In our 2023 In-House Creative and Marketing Industry Report, 39% of in-house creative leaders consider career pathing for themselves and staff to be a challenge. As senior leaders looking for your next career move could feel daunting. While the number and size of in-house groups is on the rise, our industry is relatively small and openings for creative jobs at the senior level are far and few between and marked by the fierce competition of potentially-preferred internal candidates. Getting a new creative lead job is not a reactive process – it requires significant proactivity. Based on my past job search and those I've helped others with, I've listed some key lessons below.
Networking is key and can be simple with minimum effort. Don't be afraid of reaching out to your current and past colleagues. You've made many connections throughout your career, and whether new or old, near or far, they're a group with intangible knowledge, larger connections and, perhaps even, a future opportunity looming. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how many will immediately lend a helping hand, point you in the right direction and may even want to recruit you themselves. I've also seen direct managers refer their previous manager to join their group as their direct manager! More and more professionals are landing their next position through networking; I did.
Professional networking services sites, such as LinkedIn, can be instrumental with your job search. As you update your resume, be sure to list your accomplishments, not just your responsibilities within your roles. You can quickly upload your resume to create your professional profiles on these sites. As you edit and refine your profile, be sure to turn off "profile updates" until you feel your profile is ready to be shared, otherwise your whole network will see each day that you are making changes – and if you are currently employed, that's probably not a good idea. The more sophisticated networking sites have job posting as well and provide job matches for you, typically at a cost. Often the matches are targeted and suitable most of the time. In addition to this service, you will be presented with other similar job profiles.
These sites also provide additional information, allowing you to quickly make a decision to pursue an opportunity or not, including salary information, number of applicants already applied and if you have any connections at this company you can try to network yourself in through. A word of advice regarding LinkedIn: Even if you aren't job searching, it makes sense to create a profile. If you are interested in getting involved with boards, industry groups and other professional opportunities, your LinkedIn profile is a way to make that known and allow you to be found. Note that if you are passively looking or don't want to set off any "alarms," you can engage in your search privately by updating specific settings in your profiles to “private” or even block specific individuals.
Company career sites are another great tool to take advantage of during your job search. Though at times these sites require a lot of upfront effort, they are worth it. Be selective on the companies you'd like to work for, find out if they have an in-house creative services group and whether they meet any other company requirements you'd prefer. Upload your resume to their career site tool, most of which may require reformatting into specific text boxes. Take the time to set your search criteria, update settings and preferences. You will receive more targeted job profile matches. This is a great way to let the tool do all the work for you. If an opening comes up within the in-house creative services group, you will receive a notification. It's not uncommon to receive matches in other departments like marketing, corporate communications and other shared services groups.
Job boards are not necessarily the top avenue for senior leadership roles in the creative job market, however they are still commonly used by corporations, as well as staffing agencies. Be selective and choose a handful of job boards, taking the time to upload your resume and set your job search criteria, settings and preferences will set yourself up to automatically receive notifications. Again, letting the tools do all the work for you.
Closing the Gap
Cella can also support your search for a full-time position. It's imperative to make a personal connection with an executive recruiter and convey what you are looking for. Our recruiters take time to listen to what’s important to you and what kind of role you’re looking for. Tip: Be sure to mention to your recruiter if your search is confidential.
Searching for your next role in the creative job market doesn’t have to be difficult. You can be intentional by leveraging your network, job boards and company career sites. As you connect with recruiters or other professionals, engage in meaningful conversations about your career goals. Diligence pays off, and in time, you’ll find the role that appeals to you most.