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So far smartdept has created 17 blog entries.

All Sides – What is the most stressful part of the hiring process?

Welcome to our newest blog! We like to call this an ALL SIDES. That means we asked the same question to three different people to see how their responses compare and contrast. The question — what is the most stressful part of the job search. Our participants represent a hiring manager, a candidate and a smartdept. inc. staff member. Enjoy!

Hiring Manager
“From my perspective, as one of the hiring managers, the most stressful part of the job search is reviewing the resumes and seeing that the skill sets do not match the job requirements. Filling a creative position is difficult and especially challenging when the portfolio isn’t specific to our industry. Although, since we have been using smartdept. inc. as our hiring resource, the resume searching is no longer an issue. Your team is able to filter and screen the top-notch candidates and send them our way!”

smartdept. inc. Staff Member
“As a Creative Account Manager with smartdept. inc., my favorite part of this job is collaborating with clients to identify top talent for their team. In a candidate driven market, it’s critical to have a detailed job description to help successfully fill a position. In order for me to successfully identify top talent it would be ideal to know the skill sets needed, what the top responsibilities of the position will be, the ideal years of experience, budget for the role, a good understanding of the culture/environment and (last but not least) the preferred interview process and start date. When presenting candidates, time is of the essence and feedback is necessary. An open line of communication with my client is essential to customizing a strategic sourcing plan, especially if my candidates are not hitting the mark.”

smartdept. inc. Candidate
“As someone who has been in the working world for many years, I have seen a real difference in the process of looking for a job. When I started my professional journey, it was all about who you knew and how to get your resume in the hands of decision makers. Today, the opportunities come straight to you via online recruitment tools, virtual networking and the internet. But with these new tools come new challenges: the sheer volume of information and opportunities available via digital mediums is overwhelming and misleading. Every day I receive dozens of emails from online recruitment companies listing thousands of ‘real’ job opportunities seemingly curated just for me. While I appreciate access to these leads and the implied ‘foot in the door,’ the reality is that I am one of millions who receive these emails for these same positions. My resume gets placed on top of a big pile along with the other numerous, qualified applicants. In the end, it still comes down to who you know and how to get your resume in the hands of decision makers.”

Conclusion
Building relationships is key in making a successful placement. One of the most effective ways to work through the challenges of the hiring process is through communication. In order to make the best match, it is crucial that the person you are partnering with during this process has all the information. While technology is offering many innovative solutions to finding top talent and new opportunities, the most effective solution might still be to reach out to an expert in your field, take the time to give them the details and trust that they have done the same with people they are considering for your open position.

5 Trends We’ve Seen at smartdept. inc. in Q1

Marketing related roles are on the rise! During the first 13 weeks of 2019 we have seen a wide variety of marketing roles open up for both freelance and direct hire. A few of the titles we have done searches for include Marketing Associate, Marketing Analyst, Marketing Specialist and Marketing Project Manager. It’s a good time to be in marketing!

Healthcare is hot! We have seen a wide variety of creative, interactive, marketing and technology opportunities related to the healthcare field. Our healthcare related clients come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s in retail, advertising or associations, employment opportunities are up in Q1.

First half is prime for senior level opportunities! According to an article published by Monster, senior level opportunities are on the rise during Q1 (and Q2). We concur.

It’s a candidate’s market! Unemployment is at an all-time low and that means we have to work feverishly in order to have success. For us, proactive recruiting will continue to be a key factor for staying ahead under the current market conditions. Our direct hire candidates are available for an average of 10 business days before they find their next opportunity. This means if you identify a candidate that is a good fit, it would be best to act fast!

Company culture is key! Our candidates are expressing that work life balance is high on the list of  things they are seeking in a new opportunity. Additionally, our candidates are seeking some flexibility in schedules, opportunities to work off-site and unlimited PTO

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly if you’d like to discuss these or other trends that smartdept. inc. has observed during the first part of 2019.

Adventures in Bookland

Here at smartdept. inc. our internal Smarties love to learn and grow both personally and professionally through reading. In the spirit of the always popular, “book club” we put together a quick list of our current (or favorite) reads.

So, have a look and share your book! Or, just let us know if you prefer to come to the book club prepared or are you just in it for the snacks!

MINDY MARVIN – National Director of Sales and Strategy
The Way of the HR Warrior by Monica Frede & Keri Ohlrich, PhD. 

Human Resources has immense power to affect an organization’s bottom line as well as its culture, but it gets a bad rap. The Way of the HR Warrior is a guide for HR professionals who really care to demonstrate the true power of the HR department to influence business strategy and the bottom line, especially in the changing landscape of business with a multi-generational and global workforce, the gig economy, the knowledge economy, the rise of conscious consumerism, and increasing regulations.

Why I chose this book – Being in the staffing industry, I was automatically drawn to the subject matter. And I hate the eye roll that often accompanies a conversation about HR. I like the straight forward, honest and conversational tone of the book, and am excited to put the authors’ advice in to practice.


ANDI PAFFORD – Senior Creative Account Manager
Mismatch – How Inclusion Shapes Design By Kat Holmes

Sometimes designed objects reject their users: a computer mouse that doesn’t work for left-handed people, for example, or a touchscreen payment system that only works for people who read English phrases, have 20/20 vision, and use a credit card. Something as simple as color choices can render a product unusable for millions. These mismatches are the building blocks of exclusion. In Mismatch, Kat Holmes describes how design can lead to exclusion, and how design can also remedy exclusion. Inclusive design methods―designing objects with rather than for excluded users―can create elegant solutions that work well and benefit all.

Why I chose this book – Having experience as both a personal who is both a creative professional and a creative recruiter, I was inspired by the subject matter and look forward to sharing it with the creative professionals I connect with every day.


MELISSA IMBROGNO – Creative Account Manager
The Art Of Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

“This is a book about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people; essentially—statistically speaking—there aren’t any people like that. Geniuses get made once-a-century or so, yet good art gets made all the time, so to equate the making of art with the workings of genius removes this intimately human activity to a strangely unreachable and unknowable place. For all practical purposes making art can be examined in great detail without ever getting entangled in the very remote problems of genius.”

Why I chose this book – Art is in the eye of the beholder. This book addresses coping with insecurities commonly felt by creative people and made me feel like all people should explore (and be proud of) their creativity.


ANNA LARSON – Creative Account Manager
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

America’s most sought-after executive coach shows how to climb the last few rungs of the ladder.

The corporate world is filled with executives, men and women who have worked hard for years to reach the upper levels of management. They’re intelligent, skilled, and even charismatic. But only a handful of them will ever reach the pinnacle — and as executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shows in this book, subtle nuances make all the difference. These are small “transactional flaws” performed by one person against another (as simple as not saying thank you enough), which lead to negative perceptions that can hold any executive back. Using Goldsmith’s straightforward, jargon-free advice, it’s amazingly easy behavior to change.

Why I chose this book –  This book reminded me of the importance of self-reflection and how making time for it can lead to personal growth.


ERIC PAIRITZ – Principal
Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. In a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant excursions into the unexpected, Michael Lewis follows the low-budget Oakland A’s, visionary general manager Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball theorists. They are all in search of new baseball knowledge—insights that will give the little guy who is willing to discard old wisdom the edge over big money.

Why I chose this book – Of course, I love this book because it’s about baseball. But more importantly, it proves that, if you take the correct approach, an underdog operating on a small budget can out preform its most powerful competitors.


MICHELLE PAIRITZ – Principal
Dare to Lead by Brené Brow

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.

When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work.

Why I chose this book – I like all of her books. This particular book helped me put being a leader into a proper prospective and challenged me to re-examine my approach to being a leader in my own organization.


APRIL LEVINS – Accounting and Operations Manager
Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi

In 2015 Manoush Zomorodi, creator of WNYC’s popular podcast and radio show Note to Self, led tens of thousands of listeners through an experiment to help them unplug from their devices, get bored, jump-start their creativity, and change their lives. Bored and Brilliant builds on that experiment to show us how to rethink our gadget use to live better and smarter in this new digital ecosystem. Manoush explains the connection between boredom and original thinking, exploring how we can harness boredom’s hidden benefits to become our most productive and creative selves without totally abandoning our gadgets in the process. Grounding the book in the neuroscience and cognitive psychology of “mind wandering” what our brains do when we’re doing nothing at all―Manoush includes practical steps you can take to ease the nonstop busyness and enhance your ability to dream, wonder, and gain clarity in your work and life. The outcome is mind-blowing.

Why I chose this book – The subject spoke to the operations side of my work here at smartdept. inc. And, the author sounded smart on NPR.


COLLEEN FUELLING – Creative Account Manager
The 7 Critical Principles Of Digital Marketing by Kasim Aslam

The 7 Critical Principles of Effective Digital Marketing is an attempt at establishing a baseline for one of the most tumultuous and change-ridden industries in existence. It takes a step back from the strategies and tactics that most digital marketing approaches start with and, instead, establishes a core and foundational structure from which all digital marketing initiatives can and should operate. The 7 Principles are simple without being simplistic and help to align digital marketers with a set of axiomatic, unchanging and foundational beliefs. In fact, these 7 principles may be the only thing about digital marketing that won’t change.

Why I chose this book – I’m interested in the marketing aspect of my job and love researching new ways to improve our marketing.

Book images via Amazon.

EXTRA, EXTRA… Read All About It!

On January 14th the smartdept. inc. will celebrate its 17th anniversary. While it’s not a milestone celebration and nobody will be receiving a gold watch, it is still a proud accomplishment for us. Heck, anything that a person (or group of people) can remain passionate about for 17 years is worthy of mention in my opinion.

Our Mission – I believe our success over the years in routed in our core values. We strive to engage in long lasting, mutually respectful relationships with both the candidates we represent and the clients we service.

My favorite quote (related to staffing) – “I will keep searching for new opportunities, until you tell me to stop.” – Michelle Pairitz, Principal at smartdept. inc.

My favorite memory (related to staffing) – Receiving a heartfelt message, sent from the spouse of a candidate that we had recently placed, letting us know that we had just helped her husband get his dream job.

That never gets old!

Most valuable lesson learned – Always stay engaged with your work and your teammates, and don’t ever take your foot off the gas.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years (that too, never gets old)!

smartdept. inc. gets smart(er)

We’ve made some changes at smartdept. inc., and we’re so happy about them, we want to shout from the rooftops. Or at least here in this blog post.

We’re so pleased with these tweaks, we’ve taken to calling ourselves the smart(er)dept. inc. And when we’re that proud of something, we figure it’s wise to let people know what we’re up to. So, after emailing our key contacts the following news, we lifted the juiciest bits and plunked them into this blog post. (Bonus: referring people to this post may help keep our smarties from getting hoarse when talking with candidates or clients.)

Here are a handful of changes we think you should know about!

Improved Candidate Benefits – We’ve changed our Blue Cross and Blue Shield healthcare enrollment waiting period to 90 days, down from 12 months. I think it goes without saying when it comes to healthcare, offering it sooner is smart(er). We also offer 401(k) through Merill Lynch, but we’ve been doing that for a while now.

Organizational Changes – We’ve added both speed and power to the lineup! April Levins has joined our team as Accounting and Operations Manager. She is diligently working to improve many of our internal processes. Mindy Marvin has also joined our team as National Director of Sales and Strategy. Mindy is working alongside us to help grow our national presence and create strategies to support our growth.

Electronic Timecard and Approval System – Okay, so it’s not that revolutionary. But, technically, it does make us smart(er).

Recruiting Philosophy – We’ve changed our recruiting philosophy, too. I KNOW! Under this updated model we offer the same boutique approach to service locally, while adding the ability to source and recruit nationwide. (Yup, we’re fancy.)

smartdept. inc. Strategy – If explained in detail, this would most likely draw a close comparison to the effects of tryptophan on Thanksgiving Day. Just trust me, it’s smart(er).

If you’d like to find out more about how we’ve gotten smart(er), feel free to drop us a line at getsmart@thesmartdept.com. I’m confident that the minutes we spend together will be a wise investment of your time (see how I didn’t use the term smart(er) there).

smartdept. inc. Seattle moves to the historic Pioneer Building

In case you hadn’t heard, the Seattle smarties just got a shiny new office! We’ve achieved the dream of every couple on House Hunters gotten a new space in our current neighborhood. We even got the elusive open plan kitchen!

We’re now in the historic Pioneer Building on the corner of 1st and James. Don’t let the vintage exterior fool you though, inside we’ve got all the latest amenities including elevators and air conditioning! Our new building can be a little confusing if it’s your first time visiting us so here’s a crash course on how to get to the coolest staffing office in Seattle.

Once you’ve found the building (600 1st Ave), your going to have to find your way inside. At first, you might think the big, fancy doors with “Pioneer Building” written over them are the entrance, but those are just for decoration. The real entrance is the much smaller door off to the side with “Level” written on it.

Once you get inside take the first right you see and then take another right. Now you’re in front of our elevators! They may look old, but don’t worry, they’re very safe. Push the button for the sixth floor and then “door close.” Don’t forget to check yourself out in the mirror on your way up!

Once you get out of the elevator, the hard part is over. We’re across the atrium in Suite 618. You’ll know you’re in the right place because the door says smartdept. inc. and the entrance looks just like in the picture. See you soon!

smartie spotlight: Jennifer in Grand Rapids

I’m Jennifer Wallace, a Business Development Intern. I’m a lucky wife, a doting mommy of two, and an USAF intelligence veteran who graduates from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s in public relations this April.

What got you into staffing? (Or how did you become a smartie?) 
I was assigned smartdept. inc. in my Advertising and Public Relations Capstone course at Grand Valley State University. I researched the staffing industry and smartdept. inc., and formulated a campaign to suit smartdept. inc.’s needs to reach a narrowed target audience in the Greater Grand Rapids Area. When I heard about this job opening, I jumped on it.

Do you have any pets? 
I have a pug named Gidget and an ornery cat named Indiana “Tiny Paws” Jones. They’re both naughty.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 things would you take with you? 
A machete, a hunting rifle with ammo, and a case of whiskey. I would like to survive.

What is the best thing about being a smartie? 
All the people I get to meet and know!

What is your favorite band? 
I don’t have a favorite band, but my favorite composer is Tchaikovsky.

What is your favorite type of pizza? 
Hand-tossed with garlic crust, thick-cut pepperoni, maitake mushrooms, and banana pepper slices.

What is your favorite movie? 
Burn After Reading

What is your dream job (not in staffing)? 
Chief Communications Officer for a large corporation or investor relations practitioner at a public relations firm that operates nationally.

Top tip for any job seeker: 
Apply to jobs you’re passionate about and talk about what facets of that job interest you (and why) during the interview. Being passionate about the job and displaying your knowledge thereof will work in your favor.

smartdept. inc. is indeed Good for Grand Rapids, Business as a Force for Good

What does it feel like to be deemed “Good for Grand Rapids” you ask? It’s that moment when Grandma walks in the door with her famous blueberry pie, and she baked it just for you (it feels awesome)! When we got involved with Local First and Good for Grand Rapids, we had no idea the knowledge that the organization would be able to share with us, and the impact it would have.

The process of being recognized as a Good for Grand Rapids business was completed in two steps. We first met with Dana of Local First to learn more about the initiatives the team was working on, and how we could get involved. The second step was a bit more intricate. We completed a thorough assessment that asked for our deepest and darkest secrets i.e. environmental impact, employee satisfaction numbers, community involvement, and most importantly our dedication to our local community.

The Good for Grand Rapids initiative celebrates companies using business as a force for good. These companies have a demonstrated commitment to positive environmental and social change. They create high-quality jobs, stronger communities and a healthier Great Lakes region. To be accepted into this group of celebrated businesses after taking the assessment was certainly an honor.

Once accepted, Local First supplies you with an incredible visual tool to show you where you’re located on the scale of environmental impact, social impact, employee satisfaction, and more. The team offers multiple networking and workshop opportunities to learn and improve. Because it’s never good to stay stagnant, even when you’re GOOD – you should be working to be GREAT, right!?

On February 8th, we attended the Lakeshore Annual Meeting and Local Motion Awards, where we were recognized as one of the Top 8 Finalists in the running for the Good for Grand Rapids Awards.

We are honored to be involved with Local First and Good for Grand Rapids, and look forward to continuing our efforts of positively impacting our GR community! Good for Grand Rapids is open to all Grand Rapids local businesses and we definitely recommend getting involved, and hey, maybe we will see you at the next workshop! Information on Local First can be found at www.localfirst.com.

From the desk of Hannah Staal, smartdept. inc. Grand Rapids Branch Manager

What are the best (and worst) questions to ask during an interview?

An important part of preparing for an interview is thinking through (and writing down) questions for your interviewers. While there is such a thing as asking too many questions, coming in with a short list of smart questions will go a long way to both understand the role and impress the hiring manager. It’s always best to focus on the role, the team and company – not the vacation package.

Great questions:

  • What are the biggest professional challenges that the person in this role is likely to encounter?
  • What are your long term goals for this role and department?
  • How is the team structured?
  • How closely will I work with a supervisor or mentor?
  • What types of employee tend to succeed here? OR – What qualities are most important for success in this role?
  • Are there opportunities to take on new projects and challenges that may fall out of the actual job responsibilities? 
  • Is there any experience you’re looking for that I haven’t yet spoken to?
  • What are the next steps/best way to follow up after our meeting?

Avoid asking:

  • How long will it take for a promotion? (You seem like you’re only interested in climbing the ladder, not focused on being successful in the current opportunity)
  • How long until I can take vacation? (Wait until offer stage or a conversation with HR to ask about benefits, PTO, etc.)
  • How soon can I apply for another job here? (Don’t jump ship so quickly! Stay focused on the one position.)
  • How much PTO do I get? (You shouldn’t be planning your vacation before you even get the job.)
  • Flexible Schedule or special privileges (Save these for when you actually have an offer.)
  • Anything generic – So…. What do you like about working in X industry? (Really, how is this helping you evaluate the job?) 

Start Off Your 2018 Job Search in Style With These Classic Blogs from smartdept. inc.

If your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions include a new job in the Creative and Digital world, the creative consultants at smartdept. inc. are here to help! We’ve ventured into the archives to pull some of our favorite tips to get your search started out right. As always, we’d love to be a part of your journey to a new career (and even included a blog for that too!), so get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Give your resume an overhaul: Read more >

Spruce up your LinkedIn profile: Read more >

Upgrade your portfolio: Read more >

What NOT to do on an interview: Read more >

What to expect from working with smartie: Read more >

 

Find a job in Chicago >
Find a job in Grand Rapids >
Find a job in Seattle >

Get Smart

Having choices is generally a good thing. When it comes to staffing resources, we recommend that job seekers take advantage of several options (as long as smartdept. inc. is one of them). If you’re a hiring manager searching for candidates niched in creative, interactive and marketing, however, we would prefer you look no further. 

Started by a couple (literally) of former creative professionals, smartdept. inc. is a staffing resource that specializes in creative, interactive, and marketing placements. We have been operating in the Chicago & Seattle markets for 16 years, and in Grand Rapids, Michigan for just under 2 years. While we compete with the largest staffing companies in these markets, our boutique approach to service sets us apart. 

Our goal is to develop meaningful relationships with people, so that we can accurately and efficiently make a match. How do we do it? Well, we are accessible! We don’t have voicemail and we answer your call even if it’s after hours. And, by asking the right questions and putting on our listening ears, we efficiently get to know the people we represent. It’s no different for our clients! If we know you better, our results will be better. So, we’re always curious about how you’ve been successful in your organization, we love seeing your environment and digging deeper about how people work best with you.

Making good relationships takes time and effort and I’m proud to say that the people at smartdept. inc. take the time to do what it takes to move our relationships forward in a positive direction.

My name is Colin Wodarski and I am an Enterprise Business Development Manager here at smartdept. inc. I believe in our process because I have seen it work.

So, if you haven’t already, get smart and give us a try! Reach out to me any time at colin@thesmartdept.com to talk about or your next hire or your job search.

smartie spotlight: Colleen in Seattle

Colleen Walton is smartdept’s resident expert in all things glitter, and she works in our Seattle office. She has a sunny disposition and an unyielding passion for Disneyland, Harry Potter and Starbucks. 

What got you into staffing?
I basically fell into staffing. I knew that I wanted to be a recruiter, and I interviewed for a position through an agency. Even though I didn’t get that job, the agency hired me for an internal position. So it worked out. 

Do you have any pets?
No, but whenever I see a dog tied up outside I come up with a strategy for taking it home with me.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 things would you take with you?
I was going to be smart and say a boat… But I could be happy anywhere with a lifetime supply of Diet Coke, McDonald’s chicken nuggets, and my Nintendo Switch.

What is the best thing about being a smartie?
The people! (I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.) Even though I’m halfway across the country from the Chicago and Grand Rapids offices, I still feel like I’m part of the team. 

What is your favorite band?
Does Britney Spears count as a band? If not, then I’d have to go with ABBA. 

What is your favorite staffing story?
I got to interview my hero – a UX Designer who worked on the Starbucks mobile app. 

The call was going well until I admitted that I’m a huge fan of his work. I LOVE the Starbucks app, especially mobile orders (which he designed). This caught him a little bit off-guard. And then I causally mentioned that I tell every person I meet about the app and encourage him or her to use it. I really thought I had found someone as passionate about the app as I am… but I think I ended up scaring him a little bit because of how excited I was. 

I still hope that if he ever feels a little down, he remembers that one recruiter who totally fan-girled over his Starbucks work, and it makes him feel better.

What is your favorite type of pizza?
I’m sure everyone in Chicago is absolutely horrified, but nothing beats Domino’s pepperoni. #SorryNotSorry

What is your favorite movie?
It’s a tie between Legally Blonde and Clueless. 

What is your dream job (not in staffing)?
A back up dancer for Britney Spears. 

Top tip for any job seeker:
When you’re talking about your experience, highlight the things you’d like to do more of. If you have a portfolio, your favorite types of projects should be the first thing people see. 

Reach out to Colleen at colleen@thesmartdept.com.

So you want a fresh resume…. where to start?

In the 10 years I’ve been in staffing, I’ve looked at 3 million resumes (give or take a few 100,000). I’m excited to share some expert advice on making your resume excellent.

First at foremost, tailor your resume to align with the job you want, while keeping in mind that formatting, organization, and readability are important as well. Take a long look at the job description for the role you have in mind. What key words and ideas jump out at you? What have you accomplished in your career that makes you an awesome fit for the position? Do you have the software/technical skills reflected in your resume that are required? Your resume should reflect all of these things.

The closer your resume matches up with the job description, the more compelling it will be for a Recruiter or Hiring Manager to follow up with you. It may be easy to assume that having a certain job title means you have a specific kind of experience, but you need to spell things out for someone like a recruiter who might have many candidates in front of them with the same job title. If you are applying for a role that requires certain experiences, and you have that experience – add a specific section with examples of those.

LENGTH: Stick to a one-page resume if you have less than five years of experience, and expand into two pages if you’re more seasoned.

FORMATTING:

  • Stick with standard fonts like Arial, Garamond, Times New Roman or Calibri. They’re easy on the eyes
  • Choose size 11 or 12 font – making the font smaller to fit everything on one page is not ideal – it needs to be legible
  • Avoid script fonts. Use italics, bolding and caps sparingly
  • “Creative” formatting like using heavy graphics or running text diagonally across the page is never a good idea – sometimes your resume only gets a quick glance, make it count!

STRUCTURE:

  • Header: Your name, email address, phone number, city, state and zip code should be clearly listed at the top of the page. No need to share your street address.
  • Summary: A well-written Summary sets the stage for the rest of your resume. Five to seven sentences are ideal. Speak to your years of experience, area of specialization, and industries in which you’ve worked.  Do you have an advanced degree? Do you have staff management experience? Are you a strong project manager? Have you worked for a big name company or client? What are your technical or software skills?  Look at that job description again – and format each summary to each specific role you are applying for. What can you call attention to on a high-level to matches the things that the description calls for?
  • Tools/Skills: After your summary, make a quick list of the programs and skills in your toolkit – leading with those called for in the job description. Whether you’re a marketing analyst well-versed in Adobe Analytics and SQL or a designer skilled at using Adobe Creative Cloud, call attention to your familiarity with the required and nice-to-have tools.
  • Professional Experience:
    – List your experience chronologically, with your most recent job listed first.
    – If you have been working for an agency or freelancing, include the names/industries of your top clients. Unless your company is a house-hold name, include a one line description about your company. Are they national or global? This helps put your experience into context.
    – Lead with your company, title, start and end dates including months, not just the year.
    – When describing your role, think about the job description again. Lead with information that ties back to the job you’re applying to. More than just a list of tasks, speak to your measurable accomplishments. How have you impacted the bottom line?
    – Format these points in a bulleted list, rather than a big block of text.

EDUCATION: If you are early in your career (less than three years out of school), consider floating your Education as the first item on your resume. If not, the Education section should be toward the end. Include the name of your school, the degree earned, and your graduation date.

THINGS TO LEAVE OFF:

  • “References available upon request.” This is assumed.
  • Personal interests can be appealing to potential hiring managers, but avoid anything that is polarizing such as religious affiliations.

For feedback on your resume and a hand with your job search, get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Find a job in Chicago >
Find a job in Grand Rapids >
Find a job in Seattle >

 

from the desk of Amy Porter, Sr. Creative Consultant in Chicago

Are you making the most of LinkedIn?

Whether you’re actively looking for the next step in your career or just open to hearing about new opportunities, LinkedIn is an excellent resource. But how do you make the most of it?

  • Check your status: The Privacy Settings in your profile includes a button labeled “Let recruiters know that you’re open to new opportunities.” Checking “Yes” helps you show up in recruiter searches matching your career interests.
  • Check your mail: Push InMails to your email. Under the Communications tab, set “Messages from Members” to “Yes” so you always know when a recruiter or hiring manager is reaching out.
  • Check your facts: Do the start and dates on your resume match up with your profile? Big discrepancies in dates and titles will be a red flag to recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Include an updated resume, your email address, and a current portfolio link (if applicable) on your profile.
  • Describe your current and past experience. Prioritize details that are relevant to the job you seek.
  • Expand your network in a thoughtful way. Send a short intro with your invite and respond with a purpose when your new connecting accepts.
  • Your Summary/Bio is the best place for your “elevator pitch.” This quick intro should leave a positive impression about who you are, what you do, and why you are doing it. Let people get to know you without having to read a novel.
  • Keywords: Fill your skills section with relevant technology, programming languages, activities, and certifications.
  • A clean headshot is all you need. Avoid unprofessional options like a car selfie (complete with SnapChat filter), a poorly edited group shot (whose arm is that?), or your cat.
  • Feel free to include a little bit about your hobbies, passion projects, and volunteer work.
  • Remove irrelevant jobs from your bio (food service, child care, etc), but do include volunteer work.
  • When a recruiter reaches out, take a moment to engage with them. Even if the job isn’t a great match, or if you’re genuinely not looking right now – things can change on a dime. You can always reach back out to them 6-months or a year from now if your situation changes.

If you’d like to get a jump-start on your search – get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Find a job in Chicago >
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from the desk of Amy Porter, Sr. Creative Consultant in Chicago

Pumpkin Paint Night

One exciting thing about being a smartie is spending time with talented creatives. The Chicago team got to show of their creative skills during pumpkin paint night.

Harry Potter – by Sana  //  Owl scene – by Jaime  //  Cartman – by Nina  // Abstract – by Amy  //  Googly Eyes – by Matt

 

What recruiters want you to know

Do you ever feel like applying for full-time jobs is a full-time job in itself? You know the drill – shotgun your resume out to 50-100 online postings. Maybe you even read some of the descriptions. If lightning strikes, you’ll snag 2-3 HR phone interviews. With any luck, you may even hear back from one of them within a month, but maybe not, and that’s what you’re used to.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had someone in your corner who really took the time to get to know you? Who brought relevant jobs to your attention and made sure that your resume was on the right hiring manager’s desk at the right time?

That’s where we come in!

The creative consultants at smartdept recruit exclusively on creative roles in Chicago, Seattle and Grand Rapids. Meeting with the right recruiter can be one of the most rewarding and beneficial relationships you make in your career.

How can you make the most of the relationship?

  • Come prepared with your resume and portfolio, and be open to suggestions. Our recruiters have seen it all. They are experts in the creative space – and they know what their clients are looking for. If they have a suggestion on how to better your digital portfolio or resume, take it! If the smartie you meet with, doesn’t have much feedback on your resume, ask for it!
  • Be transparent and honest, always. We promise to be sincere and match you with not just any role, but the right role. In return, if you have other irons in the fire, if contracts aren’t what you’re comfortable with, we need to know! We build relationships with people and it’s our expertise. It is vital that we keep both our clients and our candidates on the same page.
  • Explain when you’re feeling unsure. There are a lot of murky waters to navigate here, and we’re here to help. Are you looking at multiple offers? Great! Talking out all of the options with your recruiters is the best way to weigh the pros and cons of each opportunity.

What can you expect when you meet with a smartie?

  • We will never force a job onto a candidate.
  • Honest and valuable insight into job opportunities – if we have something that sounds great to you, but we know from our relationship that it isn’t the best fit whether that means the culture, growth trajectory, or work style isn’t aligning – we are going to be honest with you.
  • Consistent communication and a smooth timeline (most of the time) – unlike those online applications you’re applying to day after day, we are going to keep you up to speed. If you’ve been disqualified from the role, we don’t leave you hanging. And if we are waiting on our client to review your application, you will know. We do our best to keep the process as seamless and hassle-free as possible.

So what do our services cost you, the job seeker? Nothing.

It will require your time, your engagement and a little bit of trust. smartdept. inc. is a free resource to our job seeking candidates. Now what are you waiting for – get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Find a job in Chicago >
Find a job in Grand Rapids >
Find a job in Seattle >

 

from the desk of Hannah Staal, Creative Consultant in Grand Rapids

Portfolio Review: Expert Tips

When applying to a design role, one of the first things a hiring manager will look at is your portfolio. The creative consultants at smartdept. inc. review 100’s of portfolios each month and want to share their top tips on how to make sure yours stands out from the crowd.

Unsurprisingly, the one thing that everyone on staff wanted to talk about was organization. Whether you’re organizing by campaign, client, or type of medium, it should be very easy to navigate through and get to the right place.

See the rest of our expert tips below:

Hannah Staal, Creative Consultant in Grand Rapids

  • The most effective portfolio will tell your story, celebrate your brand. It will showcase your growth and development.
  • Flushed out campaigns: Does your messaging hold true for several different pieces? i.e. signage, logo, branding, sales sheets
  • Are you specialized? i.e. packaging, agency driven…or more generalized? Embrace it!
  • Concept to Execution: did you show process? That’s always a cool perk.

Jaime Sklar, Creative Consultant in Chicago

  • Functionality: Content and samples should flow naturally and easily. User experience is huge when looking at design portfolios especially. Nobody likes to waste time trying to click through different samples and images that are choppy and inconsistent
  • Layout and Design Aesthetic: If the color and design aesthetic is too bulky, showy, or flashy, it takes away from the work. Black backgrounds look outdated. The text should be easy to read on each page/sample.
  • Portfolio Site Used: Use a modern portfolio site and check it regularly. Coding changes and updates can pop up without warning.
  • Variety: I prefer portfolios that include several samples from each project, along with descriptions of that project and the work you contributed.

Colleen Walton, Creative Consultant in Seattle

  • Keep it simple! The background should be neutral and the navigation should be intuitive. Your site shouldn’t distract from your work.
  • Descriptions are key. They don’t have to be long, but one or two sentences about what the project is and how you were involved is very helpful.
  • Make it easy for people to contact you. Include your email or add a contact page. People can’t hire you if they don’t know how to reach you.

Nina Strolia, Creative Consultant in Chicago

  • Share some information about each sample to give the viewer context. What did you contribute to this piece? Was this an existing file that you updated or did you concept it?
  • Delete that distracting background. The highlight of the site is your work, not some crazy animated background. A simple, white background is always a winner.

Colin Wodarski, Business Development Manager

  • You should express your personality without it distracting from the main focus – your work!
  • Samples should include a pertinent description in an easy to find, quick, digestible format: where did you do the project; who was the client; if it was done as a team, what was your role; tools/software used; challenge & outcome (i.e. these direct mailers helped increase web traffic by 50%)

Amy Porter, Sr. Creative Consultant in Chicago

  • Hiring managers like to see a copy of or link to your resume on your portfolio. Put everything in one place. That goes a lot farther than the cutesy “about me” page.
  • Tread carefully with sensitive materials. Did you sign an NDA when you designed that nifty piece of internal software? Even if your portfolio is behind a password wall, your future employer may worry if you’re showing samples from legally protected work. Be sure you have permission before putting your work out there.
  • Building a responsive site portfolio site Square Space, Wix or WordPress using snappy template. Or if you’re targeting Web Design and UX roles, build the site yourself to push it the extra mile. Be sure to test it on multiple browsers, your tablet and mobile phone.

Eric Pairitz, smartdept. inc. Principal

  • When I am reviewing a portfolio I look for a clean and organized presentation.
  • Often the way a candidate presents their work in an interview setting can be a hint as to how they organize their work day.
  • Show up to an in person interview at the scheduled time. Late is never good, but too early can also be a deterrent for many hiring managers.

Michelle Pairitz, smartdept. inc. Principal

  • Present your work in chronological order. Most recent work should be first and student work you are proud of should be last.
  • If your portfolio lacks depth, it is perfectly acceptable to include well-executed spec work.
  • Be honest with yourself and your recruiter about what your role was on each portfolio piece. Elaborate on working with a team, the software used, and if any special circumstances were involved.