WE’RE A CREATIVE, INTERACTIVE & MARKETING TALENT RESOURCE

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.

 

Interview Don’ts – Stre-e-e-e-tch!

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal, Eric Pairitz

3. Stre-e-e-e-tch!

Yup! We’ve all done it. And, most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. For instance, during a traffic stop, when a police officer asks, “How fast you were going?” Or when the nurse’s assistant at your regularly scheduled check-up asks, “What’s your height and weight?” (I always say 6′ with shoes on.) Oh, and my favorite, “How many baseball cards do you have?” Okay, that one is more specific to me. But you get my point. Every single day, we’re asked a dozen questions that allow us the opportunity to “STRETCH” the truth.

But what about during an interview? Can we “STRETCH” a tiny bit there? You know — make four-and-a-half years of experience into five? Maybe bump that previous salary up a bit? Stre-e-e-e-tch!? Just a little? Well, I’m not your mother, so do what you think? However, creatives, beware! There’s one place for certain that you should never make a “STRETCH.” And that place is during a portfolio review.

That’s right! You should be up front in every case about your level of participation on a particular piece in your portfolio. If your contribution to a piece was more production and less conceptual, let your prospective employer know. Maybe it was a collaborative effort? If so, give credit to your partner (they’d like that). Lastly (and this seems obvious), never represent someone else’s work as your own. If you convey to a prospective employer that you possess a particular skill set, you can expect to be put in a position to use that skill set if you’re hired. Stretching the truth may set you up to fail in your new environment. Worse yet, it could cost your employer time and maybe even money.

So remember, if you’re a creative with an opportunity to show off your work, it’s best not to “STRETCH” the truth. Oh, and how many baseball cards do I have? I’d say, “About a million.”

Corporate Culture Helps Determine Fit

From the desk of Seattle recruiter: Beth Miller

Corporate Culture. It’s the newest catchphrase for employers and job seekers alike. As the job market evens out, candidates are more concerned with work/life balance than finding a job they actually enjoy rather than just a number on a paycheck. Similarly, employers understand that happier, more engaged employees will stay longer and produce more, creating a shift toward culture fit and soft skills in many of the creative and marketing roles we’re staffing. I’ve experienced both sides of the culture equation – a great culture fit (thank you, smartdept. inc.), and a lousy one (we’ll be vague on the specifics). I’ve found a company with values that are similar to my own personal goals of professional growth and philanthropy, and I feel supported in my role.

But what does “culture” look like when you’re a freelancer? Here are a few things I like to keep in mind to gauge whether a candidate is a good long-term fit for a client.

First, take note of the physical space of the office you might be working in. Is it loud and bright, or mellow and dark? Is it an open area, or cubed? Is there music on or does everyone have ear-buds in? As much as skill set is a factor in determining whether or not a candidate is qualified for a position, it’s equally important to ensure a candidate can work in the physical space.

Second, ask process-focused questions. Having a firm understanding of how projects and tasks are managed, what the daily workflow looks like and understanding how your peers, managers and teams will interact is important. As a recruiter I do my best to set clear expectations at the beginning of any interaction with our candidates. Communication is key, and understanding how communication works within an organization can determine whether a candidate will be a good fit.

The final thing to keep in mind when assessing culture fit is whether the core values of an organization are similar to your own values. Employees come and go, and yes, corporate culture can (and probably should) evolve as there are advances in technology, organizational growth and new hires joining a company, but if you agree with the core values of an organization that’s a huge indicator that the role could be a long term fit.

Spending time thinking about culture fit, whether you’re a candidate or employer, is an important piece to the hiring puzzle.

– Beth

5 Answers to Key Interview Questions You Should Practice Now

There are lots of resources online that can help you prepare for an interview in general, but this post is more specifically targeted to preparing for the questions you are most likely to hear during the interview – along with some general tips towards the end as well. The best way to prepare for questions is to practice, either with mock or real interviews.

Read the full article here | via HackCollege

How Brands Can Make the Most of Facebook’s New Pages

The new Facebook Pages are finally here, but what does it mean for brands that have struggled to make Pages a business tool on a personal network?

The first thing you’ll notice is that Facebook Pages are once again made to look like Facebook Profiles. You have little differentiation anymore between the publicly viewable, often more commercial page, and an individual’s private profile. This lack of distinction from an interface standpoint can be confusing to consumers.

Below is a breakdown of the changes in the order that Facebook presents them in their new Page tour.

Check out the full article here! (via mashable.com)

Enhancing Productivity By Communicating Effectively

Untold hours of productivity are lost every month due to simple misunderstandings and communication breakdowns. For some reason, many people seem to have a tough time organizing their thoughts and communicating their desires to their co-workers and employees.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who seem to have forgotten the basics of composing a written thought. Even some college grads have no grasp on how to speak/write in a way that moves a project forward.

If you are looking for a way to increase productivity and decrease stress, learning to communicate effectively can be the first step towards smoother workflows, faster turnaround times, and fatter bottom lines. Here are a handful of tips that will get you started.

Read the full article here! (via lifehack.org)

How to Do More in Less Time

Often, I can be on the computer all day long. Sure, it’s my job — writing, planning, interviews, video, project coordination. However, I find that I have no time for thinking, reading and other things I can and should be doing in the course of the day.

Am I alone? Do you feel this way? Maybe in your case, you are only reading, and not updating your blog. Maybe you’re on the phone all day long selling to new clients and never visiting a customer.

Read the full article here! (via openforum.com)

How to Use LinkedIn for Your Web Design Business

Maybe you’re already one of the 85 million users on LinkedIn, or perhaps you’re just getting started. Regardless of where you fall on the social networking spectrum, LinkedIn has a number of new applications and features to enrich your experience.

In this post, we’ll look at ways to beef up your profile as well as use new applications and sections to optimize your networking with clients, prospects and others in the design community. We’ll also cover how to find design-related groups on LinkedIn, exploit the new features of company pages to showcase your design work and keep up with developments on LinkedIn.

Read the full article here! (via www.webdesignerdepot.com)

How to Decide on Resume Length

“How long should my resume be?” is one of the most commonly asked questions about resumes. Not too long ago, job seekers were told that a resume should never exceed one page. Those who broke this golden rule were destined for the circular file.

Times have changed, and so has the criteria for resume length. The new guideline is: A resume should be long enough to entice hiring managers to call you for job interviews. That may sound vague, but there is no hard-and-fast length rule that works for everyone. Factors to consider include career objective, occupation, industry, years of experience, number of employers, scope of accomplishments and education/training.

Read the full article here! (www.monster.com)

Behavioral Job Interviews

Behavioral based job interviews are based on learning how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations. The logic is that past behavior will predict future performance.  Here’s information on behavioral job interviews, including behavioral job interview questions, how to prepare for a behavioral interview, and techniques and strategies for acing a behavioral job interview.

What is a  behavioral job interview?

Candidates for employement often ask what the difference is between a regular job interview and a behavioral interview. There isn’t a difference in the actual format of the job interview. You will still meet with an interviewer and respond to interview questions. The difference is in the type of interview questions that will be asked.

Read the full article by Alison Doyle on about.com!

7 Tips for Starting a Coworking Space

Jeff Park started out looking for space his company could share with a handful of other independent workers in order to reduce rent. Bill Jacobson and Dave Ulrich ended up with a lot of extra space after the main tenant that shared their sublease decided to move out. And Tony Bacigalupo decided to try working with a group of people that called their rotating work event a Jelly. All of them ended up founding coworking spaces — Ravenswood Coworking in Chicago, WorkBar in Boston, and New Work City in Manhattan, respectively.

No matter what brought you to the conclusion that you’d like to start a coworking space, a good place to start is asking veterans for their advice. We’ve taken the liberty of starting this process for you. Here are seven pointers founders gave us for how to get a coworking space started. (via www.mashable.com)

Get a Design Job!

(www.aiga.org) RitaSue Siegel’s Get a Design Job, now in its third edition, is available to the AIGA community at no charge. Originally written for Innovation, the quarterly publication of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Siegel offers advice to emerging designers looking to break into the world of design, designers eager to improve their positions, as well as recently downsized managers and executives.

From performing a self-evaluation on the core design competencies that can add value to a wide range of businesses, to navigating different types of interviews and networking situations, Get a Design Job offers practical advice for the changing roles of today’s designers.

Read the full article  here!

Top 10 Etiquette Blunders

Recently, a colleague was lamenting the lack of etiquette he deals with on a daily basis.

 “You would not believe how some of these people speak and act,” he said of salespeople at businesses he frequents. “They don’t know how to answer the phone, they text while talking to you, and when you walk in, they don’t greet you appropriately. They don’t even seem to know how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”

 Do I need to mention that he is in his 50s and he was mostly referring to younger workers? No, I don’t think I do. But it is valid nonetheless. And I must say, I share some of his concern.

 And so, after speaking with some etiquette experts, I came up with the Top 10 Business Etiquette Blunders to avoid:

Read more at openforum.com

18 Common Work E-mail Mistakes

Most of us rely on e-mail as one of our primary communication tools. And given the number of messages we send and receive, we do it with remarkable success.

But as with anything, the more e-mails we send, the more likely we are to screw one up. And simple e-mail mistakes can be disastrous. They can cost us a raise, promotion–even a job.

With a new year upon us, this is the perfect time to go through some of the worst e-mail mistakes employees make and how to avoid them.

Read the full article on yahoo.com!

How Can Designers Make the Most of Their Workdays

Workdays matter a lot in your professional life when you take and overview of all of them. It is important that a professional makes the most out of his workdays in order to succeed in his career. Same goes for the designers. Either you are a salaried designer working for a design house or a freelance design business owner working from home, spending your workdays effectively is the actual key to success. There are some key-points to be remembered by both these individuals.  This article focuses on freelance designers only however, I am going to discuss salaried individuals in my next posts.

Read the full article tutoriallounge.com!

Current web design trends – an overview

Web design trends keep on changing with every passing year or within a period of few months. There had been significant changes last year whose impact can be seen more clearly in this year.

Popularity in the mobile device space has immensely increased in the sense that Smartphones and tablets like the iPad have made the interaction between users better and have facilitated easier accessibility to contents. Moreover, now people can take more and more advantage of the latest and the optimized features.

And this is possible because of web standards like HTML5, web fonts and CSS3, but What about the small businesses? It actually becomes difficult for them to stick to the latest designing trends because of factors like cost of the redesigns and the need for reaching a wide range of users.

Read the rest on skyje.com

13 Essential Tips for Landing a Job on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best places online to find a job, period. It’s also a great place to connect with top decision makers, generate targeted leads for your business, drive traffic to your website, and more.

I hear countless stories every week from people who land amazing full time positions at great companies thanks to engagement on LinkedIn. Although there are a number of approaches you can take when hunting for the right job, start with these 13 important tips for using LinkedIn effectively.

Read the full article on mashable.com

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