How to make it as a creative graduate

As a creative graduate you might aspire to carve out a career as a social media content producer, writer, video or animation producer, illustrator, graphic designer, interior and fashion designer or architect. While traditional employment in these fields usually starts with an entry position at a speciality firm, it is becoming more common to apply your education more broadly across different industries as an employee or freelancer.

Whatever your creative career might shape up to look like, we have some advice about what you should do to get seen and get work.

Build a creative network

Regardless the direction you take as a graduate, don’t take for granted the connections you have built whilst studying. Marinating a professional network is a life long asset. A creative network can provide you with:

  • mentorship and support
  • practical nitty gritty info – like who’s the best at doing tax for freelancers and how to set up your super
  • skill, tool and equipment sharing
  • where to find grants and awards
  • potential clients and employers

Feel like you need to grow your network? Read our networking blog.

Your website

A website is a must. Your website doesn’t need to be over complicated but its does need:

  • an up to date resume
  • a list of current and past clients
  • at least 4 projects
  • your contact information
  • a memorable, simple and informative URL
  • to work!

Make sure you check your website weekly to confirm your links are active and the display settings are still good. It would be embarrassing if someone is eager to contact you but can’t because the contact link is broken.

There’s no shame in making your life easier and using a template from a site like Wix, Squarespace or WordPress to get your site established.

Computer scrolling the web with different creative websites and social media profiles

Creative industry online profiles

There are a huge number of social media platforms for creatives. These platforms connect creatives to each other, but most importantly, they connect creative graduates to freelance work. Here are some picks we think are worth looking into:

But what about regular ol’ social media?

It’s 2020. If you are going for any job in any industry, be prepared to be on employer’s social media search. So it’s great to follow some general advice about social media accounts during your job search.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for creative content producers. While you might not be prepared to re-imagine yourself as a ‘Instagram influencer’, it’s worth considering and researching tactics and tools you can incorporate into your social media use. These might include:

  • switching to a business account on your Instagram to pay for promotion and view insights
  • using your feed as your portfolio
  • actively making connections by commenting on and following accounts
  • using hashtags
  • limiting posts to once a day but optimising timing
  • planning and organising your content for optimal quality, consistency and coverage.

The truth is, you have a better chance of getting work the more visible and easy to find you are. You need the trifecta of socials, creative profiles and website to achieve this.

three cats in a cat stack

Go old school

Sometimes it’s about going to clients or taking a different approach. An example of this might be to get (physically and socially responsibly nowadays) in front of employers and clients.

Here is an example:

You’re a graphic designer in your second year at TAFE and you have some friends in fashion, design and photography. All of you are looking for freelance and part time work while you’re still studying. Why not develop a simple, low-cost, one-off publication that can showcase all of your skills.

Create a list of design, fashion, marketing, advertising and creative agencies and send it off. Make sure your intentions and contact information are stated clearly inside or in addition to your publication.

A project like this does more than showcase your talent. It shows team work, project planing and initiative.

Keep it simple, do not get too ambitious or over complicate your gestures.

Man looking at a magazine and having a sensible chuckle.

Content and self promotion

While searching for a job or clients, its essential you keep making content and self promote . As a creative, content is the way you create opportunities. Creating regular content while looking for clients or employment will help you hone your skills and keep you relevant.

Self promotion in creative industries is essential as it demonstrates you understand what promotion is and how you could do this for a client.

Translatable soft skills

As a hang over from educational training, aspiring creative graduates tend to lean into their technical proficiency. When approaching employment don’t forget to talk up your relevant soft skills, learnt through personal projects or other employment. These might include your:

  • motivation and drive
  • problem solving skills
  • critical thinking skills
  • adaptability to situations and environments
  • communication skills

Should I go it alone?

“If you cannot find an opportunity that you like/want, then you owe yourself to make your own!”

‘Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job: How to Make it as a Creative Graduate’ by Gem Barton.

This little nugget of wisdom is from a text that encourages graduates to get out and build their own career as sole traders and become founders of their own studios.

Freelancing or starting your small business is a great way to get working and get paid to build your portfolio. You get to pick and choose your clients… and your hours… and your work space… and the dress code.

But, you also have to manage your own finances, negotiate everything and cover all your own overheads.

So, lots of pros and cons to think about.

Trends show hiring freelancers is becoming ever more popular with employers. The future of work in Australia report from 2018 suggests second to software development, creative and multimedia work makes up 27% freelance services delivered in Australia.

If you think you have what it takes to become a sole trader and freelance your way to susses, have a look at our advice on starting a business and consider a program like NEIS. Any one considering freelancing should understand some of the expectations surrounding working for yourself or running a small business in Australia.

Creative at work in their studio

Take everything as a learning experience

Oh it does all seem like a lot doesn’t it! Making it as a creative graduate is tough stuff and it’s important to learn from and leverage every opportunity you get.

“The idea that school prepares you for the world is both right and wrong . Does it make you employable? Turn you into someone who can slot into a team and effortlessly begin delivering projects? Certainly not…That’s a whole other issue, one that only time and painful experience will give you.”

Sam Jacob, Architect and place designer

Ouch…well we hope this advice makes for a less painful experience.

Images: giphy

2 comments

  1. Hi
    My name is Reza
    I apply the to many jobs but no one the call me for interview for catch the job
    Can you please help me how can I do?
    I’m still free and also no working right now

    1. Hi Reza

      Getting a job is a stepped process.

      For example: if you’re not getting interviews, you probably need to look at the strength of your application. If you’re getting through to interviews, but not getting a job – you probably need to work on your interview techniques.

      From what you’ve said, you’re stumbling at the application process. I would recommend you take a good look at your resume and cover letter. Is it grammatically correct? Can you ask someone else to check it for you?

      If you’re in Australia and you’re connected with an employment services provider, they can help you with your resume. They can also refer you to programs that will help your job search in general.

      Good luck!

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