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Creative Marketing Jobs, Part 1: Big Picture Trends

Graphic designer in her workspace

You’re a creative marketing professional in today’s go-go era of rapidly evolving technology. What’s the best way to set yourself up for long-term success and security?

Sure, it’s fun to work at a young startup or boutique agency, but that company may not even exist in two years. And it’s fine to be a freelancer if you can make a living at it. But what if you could work for a Fortune 500 company instead? One that offers rock-solid financial stability.

Here we introduce Ala Jamison, an Aerotek business development manager in New York City, and Lucy Tran, a recruiting manager in San Francisco. They’re each in charge of recruiting creative marketing staffers for major employers in their markets.

We asked them to share their perspectives and advice.

What kinds of creative marketing professionals are in demand?

Skilled web designers are in high demand. Especially UI/UX — user interface and user experience designers for apps and websites. Employers are also seeking UX researchers to help with the digital design process and content strategists to plan and create content for evolving digital platforms.

“Digital creative marketing has drastically evolved to where it’s a hot commodity for a lot of companies right now,” Tran said.

Jamison sees the same trends in her market. “In New York, for every qualified candidate there are at least 10 different offers available to them,” she said. “Probably more than that, to be honest.”

Why the demand?

“A lot of companies are rebranding or revamping or remodeling themselves,” Tran said. “They’re just trying to stay competitive.”

While companies have traditionally outsourced much of this kind of work to advertising agencies, it’s now often being taken in-house, to departments that are often referred to as “internal agencies.” This shift is creating demand across a broader swath of businesses. Companies are also making the transition to more advanced mobile platforms, Tran said. All of that requires digital designers.

What are employers looking for?

Experience with mobile platforms is valuable, Tran said.

“If you don’t have it, that doesn’t disqualify you instantly,” she said. “But it’s good to have.”

They’re seeing a growing number of job candidates who have taken design courses from General Assembly, a school that teaches online and in-person classes in mobile and web development and design.

But Jamison said hiring managers often want candidates to have experience in the workforce on top of that.

“Some managers have told me, ‘You know, if they’ve taken that coursework that’s fine, but I’m also looking for someone with actual experience,’” she said.

Given the demand, why should web designers and other creative marketers work with a recruiter?p

“The opportunity that we’re presenting,” Jamison said. “If they’re with a startup, that’s exciting for the moment, but in the back of their minds they’re thinking, ‘Well, how long am I actually going to be here?’ When they hear the names of our clients, companies that have been in business for a long time — that sounds like job stability to them.”

Jamison and Tran also talked of bringing a human element to their recruiting work — making sure their contractors are taken care of and matching them with jobs that fit their skills and interests.

“It’s about relationship building. I need to understand what each designer is looking for, and what each manager is looking for, and play matchmaker that way,” Tran said. “Other recruiting companies are not equipped to do that. Our competition tends to send as many candidates as possible and hope one sticks.”

What kinds of design roles are at big companies like banks?

Financial companies and other established companies need nuts-and-bolts digital design work that functions properly.

“A lot of it is developing designs from scratch — wireframing, prototyping, creating something brand new, working with engineering and development to work out the kinks,” Tran said. “Figuring out if it’s user-friendly for the consumer at the end of the day.”

Next up: In Part 2, we explore the nitty-gritty of creative marketing careers — the realities of time management, the pros and cons of freelancing, how to stay relevant as technology evolves, and why you should update your portfolio.

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