If you have the idea that creating a top-notch resume is difficult today, that’s probably because you’re not aware of some outstanding free tools. The days of traditional paper resumes are over, and now, nearly everyone has the opportunity to craft a creative, artistic document that is striking and distinct. It’s time to make your resume stand out. Take a look at the five ways listed below you can punch up your resume and give yourself that extra edge to land the job you want.

1. Use suitable templates for the company and role.

Especially in the creative field, your resume should reflect your skills. Great resumes provide a preview of how you work and think. If you are skilled in Photoshop or any of the other Adobe Creative Cloud programs, take full advantage of your experience to create a custom resume.

You can choose from many websites and resources online, but you can start with services like Google Docs and Canva (both free). Take some time to browse the internet for a site that fits your style.

2. Create a tailor-made resume for the job you want.

Every job you apply to should receive a personalized resume. Sending out the same resume or cover letter repeatedly isn’t likely to yield good results. Companies and their recruiters can tell the difference between an individualized and cookie-cutter submission.

Many companies use some type of Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which does an initial search for specific information and keywords to see if your skills match the position. You’ll want to make sure your resume matches any keywords and/or phrases the company might be using.

3. Be yourself on paper to make your resume stand out.

It is perfectly acceptable to infuse your personality into your resume. Those who take the opportunity to simply be themselves will stand out from the masses. Yes, you’ll still have to use some traditional aspects of a resume; however, you’re a unique person in a unique field. Use every opportunity in the job application process to show who you really are.

4. Don’t be bashful; explain your accomplishments with metrics.

Your achievements play a huge role in getting the job, but avoid long bullet points describing your prior job duties. The best way to impress any company is by explaining (with numbers) what you’ve done and convincing the recruiter that you’re capable of repeating this for a new employer.

Take a narrative approach with your accomplishments instead of using simple lists. Don’t be afraid to mention awards and any outside recognition you received for your work. If you have a knockout project you are particularly proud of, highlight the role you played.

5. The shorter the better.

That first glance at your resume, on average, takes about six seconds. Most recruiters or hiring managers can see right away if your resume is too long or too wordy, and if it is, they will probably lose interest quickly. Use short, compact sentences and phrases with the most impactful words possible.

Be clear, concise, and write as much as possible in the active voice. The best resumes get to the point in as few words as possible. For more on the active voice and how it works, look here.

The competition for creative work is fierce. You can’t afford to just blend into the crowd or you’ll risk being passed over. Taking the time to make your resume stand out pays off.

Krista is a Creative Circle candidate, creative writer and content creator in Los Angeles. Her background includes news, marketing, copywriting and editing. If you are interested in working with Krista, please contact Creative Circle Los Angeles.

Little can jolt you when you’ve worked as a recruiter for a while, but candidates who fail to show up for an interview will always haunt me. I had my first introduction to the quintessential interview no-show nearly three years ago on a gloomy day in October, the kind where rain — and everything in its course — falls frightfully askew.

She never showed up,” said the voice on the phone.

“What?” I said, nervously shelling my hand over my neck. My palms were getting clammier by the second. “That’s impossible. I just confirmed with her this morning.”

This couldn’t be happening. My first week on the job with our biggest — not to mention most profitable — client and I was already batting 0 for 1.

“I, uh … er … let me call her quickly. This is so strange. You know, I’ll bet she’s just stuck in traffic!”

I nervously dialed Jess, the graphic designer-turned-animator with a side of web development skill (or what we in the biz like to refer to as a Purple Unicorn), praying she would throw me a bone. I hopelessly clung to the idea that she had been hijacked by pirates on the highway or was running late because she was saving a drowning fawn from a sewage drain, or … “Oh!” I realized, perhaps she had made it to the building but got stuck in the elevator on the 22nd floor sans cell service! Surely the hiring manager, who had already passed on 37 other interactive design candidates, would understand.


“Hi, Jess? This is Amanda from Creative Circle. Is everything all right?”

Yeah, sure. Why?

“We had an interview scheduled for you today at 1 p.m. with Christopher. The one you and I confirmed this morning. Remember … this morning?” my passive-aggressive, and somewhat confused, articulation now bearing a soft nod to Kristen Wiig.

Oh right, yeah, I thought I emailed you. Sorry. I thought about it, and I just have too many other opportunities right now, so I think I’m gonna pass.

My arms started to feel like overstuffed sausages while beads of failure-infused sweat trickled down my back. No. No. No.

“So, um, but … the client …,” I panicked.

“Sorry, just not something I’m interested in right now. I’ll let you know when I’m looking again!” Jess chirped as she hung up the phone.

Cue the cacophony of strings. I was in the hot seat now. Not only did this very particular client deliberately change his flight to Boston to meet with the candidate on this doomed and gloomed day, but he had followed up with me not once, not twice, but three times in the past week to confirm that a formal, in-person interview was indeed a sure thing. No matter how you spin it, it was my neck on the line.

It’s that dreaded phone call — or worse, email — that every recruiter encounters during their career, and gut-wrenching conversation to follow with an important client to let them know you have disrupted their calendars for nothing.

But looking back on that panic-ridden scare, there were Scorsese-red flags all over my previous conversations with Jess about this opportunity: her unwillingness to get on the phone during our communication cycle and her lack of questions or curiosity about the role, to name a couple. When it came down to it, we were both to blame, weren’t we? She, for her lack of transparency, and I, for not paying attention to what she was really saying over our many email conversations about the role, otherwise known as an important part of my job. But that doesn’t mean it would be the last of ’em. Much like the zombies in the apocalypse, the interview no-shows never really die.

Here are a few excuses I’ve personally encountered since then that have sent me into a tailspin, howling at the moon:

  • “I have food poisoning, but don’t reschedule because I don’t know when I won’t have food poisoning.”
  • “I thought I emailed you that I wasn’t going to be able to make it. I guess I forgot to press send.”
  • “I was detained.”
  • “I realized on my way there that the job is three hours away. No thanks.”
  • “The drive-thru at Taco Bell made me super late.”
  • “My dog got loose, and I had to chase him. OK, actually … I slept in.”
  • “I gave up because I couldn’t find the building.”
  • “I got a flat tire. I’m in my car waiting for road service.” *Recruiter hears voice echo against bathroom walls.
  • “I read a Glassdoor review that they don’t have free gym memberships.”
  • “I know it’s five minutes before I’m supposed to be there, but I thought about it and I just don’t think this is a good fit for me.”

But did they get an A for creativity? You bet your bucket of M&M’s.

While you can’t control working with an unpredictable product — people — you can control the perspective you keep. Search for the humor in every spooky situation. Make the calls you need to make no matter how torturous, and keep going. It won’t be long before you find the second chance that gleams ahead of toil and trouble.

Happy Halloween from Creative Circle!

Amanda is a copywriter-turned-recruiter who joined Creative Circle’s Philadelphia team in 2015. Her fascinations include, but are not limited to: good use of white space, just about anything animal related, TED Talks, and helping people find jobs they really want. Outside of playing talent matchmaker, Amanda spends most of her time scouting new locales in the City of Brotherly Love with her husband and jumping bean of a pup, Tuxedo.

In today’s world, more businesses and industries are looking for creative talent than ever before. Major tech companies, media agencies, digital publishers, and ad shops alike are no longer looking for candidates who check off all the literal job requirements, because let’s be honest, the majority of these roles are so new it would be impossible to have the direct experience necessary. In fact, they are looking for culture fits: people who can express their thoughts creatively (even if the role is not necessarily creative), are fun to work with, willing to learn, and adaptable. There has never been a better time for creatively minded people to find work that leads in innovation, technology, design, and reach.

Your resume is no longer your way to show an employer “your receipts” from the working world. Now, resumes are your “HELLO MY NAME IS” sticker that just gets an employer to want to know your story in the first place.

Here are a few tips (and tricks) to, as mother always said, “Show, not tell.”

1. Rethink your cover letter.

Hiring managers have to sift through thousands of resumes with “this-is-why-I’d-be-a-great-fit” cover letters. Give them something fun to read! Ever fill out a cover letter and wonder to yourself, “Why am I just repeating my resume in essay form?!” Your cover letter is your opportunity to give an employer a peek into your personality.

Using elements of what makes up your day-to-day life, consider writing a succinct story, a visual equation of what makes you who you are, etc., and maybe include a quote that inspires you. Think of different ways to illustrate that you’re fit for the job by aligning your personality with the role at hand rather than directly explaining your work history. Your cover letter is the handshake that makes an employer want to know more about your experience.

2. Ditch that Word doc template.

Unless you’re applying for a job at a financial investment firm, there is no need for that resume template from 1997 (we all know which one), where you list your address and college GPA. You may as well include your Social Security number! Your resume doesn’t even need to be vertical! Is your mind blown yet? Using Keynote, Photoshop, InDesign, and other design-based software, you can visualize your experience sans bullet points, illustrating your ability to synthesize your work history in an interesting, nuanced way. (For those of you who feel less verbose in the world of design, Canva is a great free resource for you!)

Using current trends, keep your resume relevant and modern with color and anything but Times New Roman. Doing a search of how others have innovated the way they compiled their resume is helpful for inspiration. Depending on your network, it might be worth asking your friends (or other people you look up to) if you can look at their resumes for the sake of variety and to see that there are no rules as far as execution goes. With all these resources at your disposal, there’s no excuse for a plain resume.

3. Know your personal brand.

Regardless of whether it’s conscious, we are all constantly curating a brand of and for ourselves in the world of social media. We use social media to align ourselves with messaging, imagery, cultural capital, and other people, so why not do the same on your resume? In the way your most-used emojis can say a lot about you, so does the content of your resume. People can, at a glance, get a sense of who you are through micro-cues from visual and written communication.

Finding the symbiosis between your experience and your brand is key. For example, if you’re looking for a role in design or art direction, your resume should be visually and aesthetically dominant, highlighting your technical skill. If you’re applying for more of a creative strategy role, your personality (humor, thought process, storytelling abilities) should shine through using imagery and text.

4. Highlight the story you’re telling.

Similar to personal branding, your resume is just another extension of your ability to clearly illustrate your work in a way that flows for the reader. Think of different ways and formats to take the reader on your employment journey in the same way you’d describe it in person. For example, some people treat their resume like a visual map with no words or descriptions at all — just key art, color, and design elements. Others prefer to provide a restaurant-like menu of their work, letting readers get a taste of their experience with little visual hints along the way. There is no set parameter to how much or how little one should include on their resume. It’s what will make you feel most confident in the work you’ve done.

Employers want to see how all your experience has tied together in some way, even if that means highlighting what you learned from each role you’ve had rather than making a laundry list of accomplishments.

5. Always be ready to iterate.

As nebulous as it sounds, iteration is important during the creative process. Don’t get attached to one format. As trends change, as your experience changes, so update your resume visualization the same way you’d update a blog post or Facebook cover photo. It shows future employers, recruiters, and contacts that you’re evolving in your abilities to stay relevant while also expanding in your storytelling capabilities. Making your resume should be a fun and engaging process that allows you to express yourself differently.

Always remember that your resume gets you in the room. Employers are primarily focused on where you’ve worked and for how long. An in-person interview gives you the room to extrapolate on your experience, so don’t pressure yourself to fit it all in on one page.

These are just some quick and easy ways to start thinking differently. What are some of your suggestions for keeping it creative? Let us know in the comments!

Annie is a Creative Circle candidate and freelance creative strategist/copywriter working and living in Los Angeles. She knows digital media as well as she knows her own horoscope (she’s a Virgo), having worked at the likes of BuzzFeed and Mashable. She has created branded content strategies for the top Fortune 500 brands, which means she knows the true meaning of “going native.” If you want to work with Annie, contact Creative Circle Los Angeles.

When I started in the world of digital media, I assumed that “creative environment,” “casual attire,” “snack room,” and “tech” meant future-forward, progressive, and all-inclusive.

Boy, was I wrong!

Like most industries, companies, and businesses, new media and creative professions operate as any 1960s, Mad Men-esque environment would; often leaving women who seek financial and professional growth up against a virtual glass ceiling shrouded in “Thirsty Thursday” Happy Hours.

As a self-designated Strong Woman in a creative role, I thought I was exempt from gender bias — assuming that other women just weren’t vocal enough or didn’t understand how to “work with men.” However, throughout my tenure at a renowned social publisher, I became #woke and had to remap my own journey toward being heard in a world where my voice was automatically less important prior to even speaking.

Below are some lessons I learned on my road to self-empowerment (and the empowerment of others) in a creative field.

Diction matters

I had been asked to take on a significant amount of responsibility in my role that was going to require double the work. In an effort to stand up for the work I had done, I created a proposal asking for a raise. To my surprise, someone in HR pulled me aside and told me my approach to this “responsibility” was both “hostile and aggressive,” and I was denied the opportunity that had been presented to me.

It’s not news that words like “emotional,” “aggressive,” “hostile,” “shrill,” and “intense,” are disproportionately used to make positive attributes negative as they relate to women in the workplace. I started realizing that I wasn’t hearing the same adjectives being applied toward my male colleagues; instead hearing words like “passionate,” “tough,” and “confident.” The list goes on.

Women are frequently pushed to doubt themselves in their approach to their everyday lives and professions, discouraged from being “too active” or “too participatory” for fear of being seen as “un-ladylike” or “too much.” When women do speak up during meetings, disagree with colleagues, or simply stand up for themselves or an idea on a professional level, they are often told they need to “tone it down,” “stop getting emotional,” or “reel it in.”

In order to stop the misperception of self, you have to first be aware of it. Oppression doesn’t necessarily happen in loud, poignant moments. It can occur in the small, passing conversations about others or even conversations about you that are playful. Look out for situations where people are unfairly using diction as a weapon for self-doubt.

Equally, consider how our own ingrained speech patterns reify the oppression of women. For example, women tend to apologize before speaking or find themselves needing to justify their reason for asking for something (i.e., “Sorry, I just wanted to …) so as to maintain a polite demeanor. As juvenile as it sounds, work on remapping your speech patterns to be direct, assertive sentences that speak clearly for what you need. More importantly, don’t be afraid to correct others’ speech patterns, as it helps re-wire the thought processes of women and men around you.

For example, most recently, I was referred to as “she” in a meeting when I was sitting right next to the person addressing me in the third person, and I stopped them afterward to say, “You can just call me Annie. You may not be aware of it, but ‘she’ is dismissive and dehumanizing.” Although it was an uncomfortable process (and I don’t know if this person understood what I was saying right away), it reminded me of my own power in the situation and that I always get to show up in the room.

Make your worth tangible

During review periods where people asked for raises, I saw many colleagues of mine confused as to why they weren’t getting an increase in their salary even though they said, “But I did all this work and I deserve it!” It was especially hard on a creative team, as the work was not directly (or obviously) tied to sales.

Even if you deserve a salary hike, with women making 78 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same work, you have to run that much harder just to get to the starting line.

Consistently manage a document that tracks your tangible projects and achievements in your job, whether it be business you’ve worked on, initiatives you’ve started, or client meetings you’ve attended. I always found value in taking screenshots of positive feedback that had been sent in any fashion, explaining why my work had been successful.

Most importantly, tie it back to the dollar amount. Even if your work is not directly related to revenue, it doesn’t mean that you are not engaged in the sales cycle. I started to inquire with our sales team about the size of the deals I worked on (pitched or won business) to highlight that my work was, in fact, tied to a certain amount of money that had benefitted the company.

And lastly, express the measurable things you seek to accomplish in either your current or desired future role to show that you are thinking long-term about the company’s goals and an action plan on how to execute these ideas.

At the end of the day, no matter how great your work may be, it must always benefit your manager, your team, and/or the company.

Talk about it

We are living in a causal time where gender, race, sexuality, politics, etc., are all on the table and constantly discussed. However, even with this new sense of openness and dialogue, talking about gender (and racial) politics in the workplace still feels like an unwelcome discussion. I learned quickly the awkwardness that ensued when I had to address inequalities at work with my male managers who took what I was saying personally or didn’t know how to respond tactically or empathetically.

In order to make the latent manifest, it is important to push past this discomfort and continue to educate your male and female colleagues. Building empathy, learning any new language, or developing a new way of thought are arduous processes, but they can occur through consistency and a desire to reach mutual understanding.

If you hear someone say something inappropriate or simply unhelpful about you or your colleagues, don’t be afraid to thoughtfully speak up to create awareness. Remember to praise yourself and your fellow female colleagues in situations where your/their work might be getting overlooked or spoken for.

With that said, men are not the only culprits in the gender struggle in the workplace — women can bring each other down as well. Using your best judgment (and trust) and being open with female colleagues about your experiences in the workplace not only allows for unification and camaraderie, but it also sets the stage for creating a collective set of solutions and advocacy in dealing with tricky dynamics.

As Lady Gaga recently sang on the track “Hey Girl,” “We can make it easy if we lift each other.”

If you have any advice on how we, as women, can continue to grow together as we grow ourselves in our careers, please let us know in the comments below!

Annie is a Creative Circle candidate and freelance creative strategist/copywriter working and living in Los Angeles. She knows digital media as well as she knows her own horoscope (she’s a Virgo), having worked at the likes of BuzzFeed and Mashable. She has created branded content strategies for the top Fortune 500 brands, which means she knows the true meaning of “going native.” If you want to work with Annie, contact Creative Circle Los Angeles.

Recruiter Real Talk: College Resource Guides
Pencils down! It’s time to start thinking beyond the classroom with Creative Circle’s College Resource Guides.
It’s no secret that finding a job after college is hard — really hard. As a recruiter for creative and digital talent, I can tell you that the competition is tough even at entry level, which is exactly why I’m a huge fangirl of our College Resource Guides. They offer a simple, pointed timeline for every stage of your college career — freshman to senior — helping you to stay clear on what you need to do to land that dream job upon graduation. (And bonus: You might even be able to avoid moving back in with mom and dad for another year.)

Freshman year might seem awfully early to start considering your big career moves post-graduation. Guess what? It’s not. I’m willing to bet that the only strategic planning most of your dormmates, classmates, and dormmate’s classmates are doing right now is for Dollar Taco Night next Tuesday and not four years from now. And hey, we’re only hot-sauce-loving humans! But today’s reality for college grads, particularly in the creative and marketing fields, is that success starts early.

Beginning in the Freshman Resource Guide and carrying over to sophomore year with the Sophomore Resource Guide, you’ll notice that the word “resume” gets tossed around like magic dust — poof! Your own personal brand begins now. Be sure to keep updating your resume throughout your entire college experience, tracking everything you’ve done. Over time, and over internships gone good and bad, you’ll redefine your resume a hundred times, subtracting all the bits that no longer make sense and folding in the ones that do until you finally create an identity so relevant to your field that it could make even the coldest career counselor shed a tear.

Before you know it, the great divide will be upon you, and by that, I’m referring to your junior year. If you don’t have an internship lined up by then, apply, apply, apply! Just as the Junior Resource Guide emphasizes, it’s critical to start networking and interning at this phase in the game. This is where life starts to become much bigger than Dollar Taco Night. Why? Two words: safety net. You’d be surprised at how many students don’t end up in the career they thought they wanted. You might take an internship in a field like marketing and realize midway through what you really want to focus on is graphic design. This allows you time to retool your classes, and possibly even your major, while finding another internship to help you build a design portfolio. Trust me: You’ll need one.

Senior year sort of catapults you blindly into the lobby of the real world. It’s time to throw the stone as far as possible into the pond, rippling a call heard around your industry. Just as the Senior Resource Guide directs, you want to get a grasp on applying early enough for full-time positions, all the while avoiding “senioritis.” Reflect on all the working relationships you’ve cultivated during your internships and networking, and use those to your advantage by connecting on LinkedIn. If graduation has come and gone and you still find yourself jobless, take on some freelance work or even a post-collegiate internship.

Getting the career you want upon graduation can be done. But notice I didn’t say it was easy. It takes organization, effort, and above all else, diligence in staying ahead of the curve and your competition. When you get stuck or you feel like you don’t know where to start, keep these College Resource Guides handy and return to them every time you start to feel yourself wandering down the path of “this seems impossible.” They are designed to guide you through the hinterlands by targeting all the little pit stops you must take along the way. Among them, the most important are: Resumes, Portfolios, Internships, and Industry Networking. The ultimate results of treating these pit stops as actions over the course of your college career will yield results that are unfathomable in the best way.
Ok, you can have your pencils back now.

Amanda is a copywriter-turned-recruiter who joined Creative Circle’s Philadelphia team in 2015. Her fascinations include, but are not limited to: good use of white space, just about anything animal related, TED Talks, and helping people find jobs they really want. Outside of playing talent matchmaker, Amanda spends most of her time scouting new locales in the City of Brotherly Love with her husband and jumping bean of a pup, Tuxedo.

As reliable as the leaves changing color, the temperatures dropping a few degrees, and Starbucks rolling out the Pumpkin Spice Latte (and everyone’s personal feelings around pumpkin flavors), each fall, Boston’s population suddenly swells with digital marketers. 20,000+ people stream in from all over the world for Inbound, the digital marketing conference hosted by Hubspot. It’s a chance for marketers, entrepreneurs and creatives to network, mingle, learn, and get inspired. Speakers range from the mega-famous (um, hi MICHELLE OBAMA) to small agency owners or speakers sharing a few nuggets of wisdom with anyone willing to listen.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend Inbound for the last two years, and I always leave feeling like I can scale 10-foot walls in a single bound. I’m so buoyed by new ideas and inspiring concepts that I can’t wait to share every tidbit with my team. Rather than unleash all this learning on them like an open fire hydrant, however, I thought I’d channel my enthusiasm into this article for the Our Notebook audience!
I came away from the conference with four great ideas to try.

1. Have Some Empathy.

There was no official theme to the conference this year, but if there was, it would be empathy. I don’t want to bring politics into this post, but I would be remiss not to acknowledge that we live in a troubled and divided world. Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, and hundreds of others spoke to the power of empathy and the impact it can have in our world. And truly, this concept has never been more powerful than it is now.

The practical application echoed repeatedly was: “Help your customers. Don’t sell to them.” As creatives and marketers, this means taking a step back, putting ourselves in our audience’s shoes and truly understanding them. What are their pain points? What are our services doing to improve or enhance their lives? What does your audience need that you haven’t provided for them? An authentic, empathetic voice and message will be the most impactful way to connect with your audience in the years ahead.

2. Ramp Up Your Messaging.

The big tech trend at Inbound last year was messaging services. At their conference last year, Facebook announced that Facebook Messenger has over 1 billion active users (!!!), and has recently opened this tool up to businesses to keep in touch with their customers too. Thought leaders at Inbound predicted that using a messaging service or chat bot software can help eliminate some potential roadblocks in customers’ paths to purchase, while at the same time avoiding the need to pick up a phone and call someone (gross, right?).
This seems like an odd point to follow up empathy with. But the truth is, in this modern and digital age, we are much more apt to look for information on our own rather than asking someone else. How many times have you Googled how to do something rather than reaching out to someone else you know who could help you? Personally, I spent a good hour Googling which cleaning products were safe to use on my gas oven without blowing up my apartment before caving and just asking my mom.

My point is, empathize with your audience by understanding your tendencies for wanting to source and locate a solution to your problem independently. Not everyone has the resources to build or pay for a chat bot for their personal or business website, but maybe you could get a “Contact Me” section built where someone can easily and quickly get in touch with you. Do you have an FAQ section that may address common questions or concerns about your services? Do you have your direct messages set to “public” on Twitter? Try one or all these, and see if it helps bridge the communication gap between you and your audience.

3. Use “Yes, and …”

This is the new favorite statement used by improvisers all over the world. In order for an improvised scene to be successful and funny, scene partners need to agree and build on one another’s ideas rather than shoot them down.
For example:
“Slow down! You’re driving too fast!”
“What are you talking about? We’re not driving; we’re at the grocery store,”

“Slow down! You’re driving too fast!”
“Well, I’m never going to be a good racecar driver if I don’t practice!”

Which of those exchanges leads to a stronger, funnier result?

As a lifelong theatre student, I wasn’t sure I’d have much to glean from the talk on improv for marketers, but as soon as the “Yes, and …” concept was introduced, I realized how infrequently I use that tactic at work. If an idea or pitch clashes with my sensibilities or what I think is plausible, I’m quick to shoot it down (“We’re not driving”), rather than build off it. My personal challenge walking away from Inbound is to “Yes, and …” my team more! It will lead to better, stronger work, and it will make my team feel supported and safe when they introduce new ideas. And that’s a win for me too, because that’s exactly how I want my co-workers to feel, and the kind of workspace I want for myself. So next time you’re in a meeting, make like Tina Fey: “Yes, and …!”

4. Change the Story by Changing the Storytellers.

In 2016, Teen Vogue went from just another teen magazine to one of the premier sources for forward-thinking political, cultural, and fashion journalism. How did they accomplish such a huge brand U-turn? Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth credits it to diversifying their staff.
By changing who had a seat at the table, they changed what kind of stories they told. For example, they realized that they didn’t need to stay pigeonholed into stories about makeup and prom dresses; teenage girls were expressing an interest in political and current events in addition to which highlighter would give them a better glow. They expanded their staff of writers and the kinds of topics they covered. The result was not only a broader audience that now stretches well beyond their young female demographic (Welteroth mentioned proudly that Dan Rather now counts himself as a reader), but national acclaim for their publication.

If you are looking for this kind of change, look for the voice or experience in your organization that is missing and act on adding that person to the mix. But not all of us are able to make those kind of hiring decisions, or perhaps you’re not in a place where diversity is a huge priority for your company. Reaching back to the empathy theme, it’s important to understand the need for a voice or representation that mirrors your audience’s own experience. If your work isn’t connecting with your audience in the way you anticipated, think about any other voices or experiences that may resonate with them more.
You may not be able to hire someone who has that voice, but maybe you know them personally. Can you take them out for a working lunch and ask them to share their experiences with you? Can you seek out writers and artists whose voices resonate with your audience? Fold their work into your media diet. If you can’t impact the table at work, change your creative and digital roundtable.

It was remarkable to be at a digital marketing conference that gave me so many personal insights in addition to professional ones. Inbound encouraged its attendees to do more than buy a new piece of software or track a particular trend; it challenged us to look inward and see how we can improve upon ourselves and apply those same improvements to our professional lives.

Julie is the Project Manager for Creative Circle’s marketing team, and a life-long passionate storyteller. She manages the day-to-day workflow for the Marketing team, and oversees email marketing, marketing automation, and various other digital marketing initiatives. Julie has her B.A. with honors in Theatre and Creative Writing from Butler University. She is a Kentuckian by birth, Chicagoan by choice, and a fan of Beyonce, Gilmore Girls, and writing in pen. She is always trying to get a reservation at Girl and the Goat.

In most jobs, the only way to feel like you’re growing is to get a promotion (and of course, more money). Oftentimes, employees end up taking any promotion or manager position that comes their way because it seems to embody the essence of moving forward, regardless of whether the “upgraded” role is applicable to their long-term goals.

However, if you are in a creative profession, chances are you’ve grown up saying, “I just want to make stuff,” which makes the infrastructure of most organizations incredibly stifling when it comes to creative growth.

Unlike a conventional advertising agency, where the ultimate promotion to creative director still has you engaged in creative production, many creatives in digital media are getting pushed up while also being pulled away from what they wanted to do in the first place — make cool things and tell great stories.

In my last organization, I watched endless numbers of creatives accept promotions as managers because that was the only viable next step that would allot them more money and a higher title. Unfortunately, many soon realized that they:

  1. Never aspired to manage others
  2. Did not embody leadership skills or experience to be accountable for someone else’s career growth
  3. Were not socially comfortable engaging with others on a consistent basis
  4. Preferred to be individual contributors who were left alone to create and produce work
  5. Had no other options for growth

To my dismay, I watched a trickle-down effect where newly minted creative managers were frustrated by their lack of creative production and confused at what they were meant to provide to their direct reports. This resulted in their direct reports feeling paralyzed in their own growth, unclear as to whether they were meant to seek power or production.

Worse, when these creative managers eventually wanted to move on to other companies, they ended up taking managerial roles or higher titles because of the promise of more money (even though they still lacked managerial skills), setting them up for a path that they never chose and a focus on power over passion.

More than ever, there is a need for companies with creative teams/talent to provide alternative options for growth in the creative realm where creatives can feel like they are financially growing as individual contributors without the stress of title-seeking in order to get to the next rung on the ladder. And those who genuinely seek a managerial skill set should have the opportunity to do so, and to learn how to properly manage others.

As a creative, should manager be your next step? See what’s possible where you work in terms of being able to amass more responsibility within your role (and therefore increasing your pay) without taking yourself away from the work itself. When it comes to being a creative thinker, I think we can all agree that our minds live not in black and white but in shades of gray.

Annie is a Creative Circle candidate and freelance creative strategist/copywriter working and living in Los Angeles. She knows digital media as well as she knows her own horoscope (she’s a Virgo), having worked at the likes of BuzzFeed and Mashable. She has created branded content strategies for the top Fortune 500 brands, which means she knows the true meaning of “going native.” If you want to work with Annie, contact Creative Circle Los Angeles.

After 12+ years of heading back to school each fall, it can be hard to muster up the energy for another year of classes. College is even harder because you have to manage a bigger load of academic work while also juggling meals, housing, and having the best time of your life. To expect a career at the end of it? Insane.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Creative Circle and Orangenius want to help college students succeed at school AND plan for their creative careers. That’s why we made these College Resource Guides, which break down your freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years into easy-to-follow tips for success.
We also reached out to our Twitter audiences for their college survival pointers. Check out the best tweets from our most recent #LiveCreativeChat with Orangenius, and be sure to tune in the third Wednesday of every month for a new topic!


Question 1: School, sleep, social life… Pick 2. Just kidding — how are you managing all three?

Coffee! But seriously, time management is the key to staying on top of everything college has to offer.

Our No. 1 tip? Don’t stress! The less time you spend stressing, the more time you’ll spend on school, sleep and a social life. We know it’s not easy, but our new College Resource Guides have tips and tricks that will help.


Question 2: What job search platforms are helping you kick-start your career?

LinkedIn should be at the top of the list. Perfect your profile, scope out management for mutual connections, and easily apply. Looking beyond the platform? We’ve got tips in the Senior Year section of our new College Resource Guides.


Question 3: How are you making the most out of career services at your school?

Take advantage of the career development help while you still can! Try biweekly visits and a resume overhaul to start. If you’ve recently graduated and don’t have access to those resources, you can check out our College Resource Guides for free, right now!


Question 4: No more college means no more dining hall. What meals have you mastered for post-grad life?

Pasta is our go-to, but sorry, that doesn’t include instant ramen. Make it a meal with protein and sautéed veggies! Still not ready to take the leap (into the kitchen)? No shame in frozen meals. Just find the right option for you.


Question 5: How do you plan on keeping up with your favorite professors and mentors after college?

Treat your network like it’s a plant: Water it every once in a while. In this case, take it out for coffee. And talking to it won’t hurt, either — networks love that carbon dioxide.


Question 6: What are you doing to extend your extracurricular work beyond your college years?

Always hold onto your “personality projects.” Food blogging? Dog walking? Own it. The more you keep up with extracurriculars, the more exciting they will get — and the more unique they make you.

Still looking for ways to prepare for your creative career?

Check out our College Resource Guides for an in-depth review of what you can do each year of college to make the most of your education.

Ready to start applying to jobs?

Head over to Orangenius to start your creative portfolio, and be sure to check out our other Resource Guides for tips on improving your resume, portfolio and interview skills.