Creatives don’t play by the book; neither should your hiring process.

Imagine a job applicant. Which stock photo are you thinking of? Is it the one with a super-eager guy in a suit, hands folded, nervously seated across a long desk? Or is it the woman waving her resume in the air like she’s on a parade float?

You’re likely not imagining a creative. The best creative hires cannot be anticipated. Because of that, keep these next few things in mind when hiring your next creative.

1. The right hire might not be found through your traditional recruiting methods.

It’s not that we’re not looking at job listings on LinkedIn — it’s that some creatives literally might not have an account. Some of the most talented professionals I know promote their work experience through less conventional means like a social feed or a private Vimeo channel.

2. The right hire might not have that required 4-year degree.

Many creative hires become experts in their crafts by way of less traditional education. Whether it’s a graphic designer who’s got an Associate’s Degree, or a UX designer who took night classes at General Assembly, top creative talent might not always have their Bachelor’s.

Before setting your company’s standards, clarify with managers what technical skills are needed for the role at hand. These tend to take precedence in creative work, and you don’t want to needlessly exclude the appropriate talent.

3. The right hire might have atypical work experience.

If you asked a freelancer to list out every client and every project they have ever worked on, you’re in for a laundry list. Since so many creatives freelance for short periods of time, their resumes are long. Don’t always expect to see 3+ years at every previous employer. If you’re concerned with a creative’s capacity to commit, consider asking them what type of work would sustain their interest.

4. The right hire might not be a talker.

OK, real talk: Creatives can be shy, or introverted — even those of us who spend a lot of time with words. Because our contributions are usually hard deliverables like copy or artwork, our speaking skills might be a little rusty.

This doesn’t mean you should lower your standards for the types of soft skills you need. Just remember that creatives might express themselves through other mediums.

5. The right hire might talk a little too much.

On the other hand, you’re bringing in storytellers, and you might get candidates who love language a little too much. These are the people who tell you about their subway encounters, their dental appointments, who they met in the Galapagos, and why.

During an interview, be prepared for some more meandering from a creative than you might expect from other hires.

6. The right hire is still like any other you’ve hired before.

If you’re worried about hiring for creative roles, don’t be. In most ways, hiring for a creative is like hiring for anything else. As a hiring manager, you know how to spot talent. Trust your gut when it comes to creatives — just let us say a few more weird things here and there.


Ryan is a Creative Circle candidate and freelance Content Director who enjoys reading menus. He got his start at BuzzFeed NY, and since has led content initiatives for startups, TV shows, and crowdfunding platforms. He’s now based in LA—but not in a suspicious way. If you want to work with Ryan, contact Creative Circle Los Angeles.

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