Land your dream job, contract or client
The creative team at UNiDAYS has been subject to a global restructure, as the business moves to a more
I’ve been fortunate and have managed to line up a new role, as a creative at Linney. I’m really excited to start the next chapter in my career. However, there are a lot of very talented people who are still on the lookout for new opportunities, with uncertain times ahead.
This got me thinking a lot about what I do in my life and career to give myself the best possible chance for growth and success, in uncertain times. What have I learned over the last 10 years or so, that allows me to thrive in this uncertainty and always believe that more opportunity is around the corner? What are the rules I live by that allow me to create and take new opportunities?
Create routine and focus
Procrastination is your enemy, create a routine that sets you up for success:
- Plan your weekly, daily and even hourly schedule so that you’re applying yourself proactively—don’t just move from one random task to the next. Work with purpose. Use journals, planners and calendars to allocate chunks of time that will make an impact
- Integrate habits into your routine that reinforce productivity, growth and positive energy. Such as a morning workout, meditation, a daily allocated reading slot or time to write a reflective journal maybe. Find the things that help you be your best self and do them daily
- As a bare minimum work at least a nine-to-five day, Monday to Friday on your daily grind. You’ve just left the structure of a job (or education), so stick to using this time to hustle. You can lie in and smash some Netflix on the weekend. You’ll have plenty to keep yourself occupied; CVs, portfolios, your personal website, job applications, self-driven projects, learning new skills and much, much more. Use this time to boost your skills and ultimately your chance of finding your next opportunity
- Allocate set time slots for catching up on emails, messages and social media. There’s nothing worse than spending a day at your desk, only to realise that you’ve just wasted hours responding to messages, liking random memes and planning your weekend. Turn off your notifications and FOCUS. Mute your alerts and stick rigidly to allocated time slots for checking those little red numbers. You’ll be able to think clearly, focus and do your best work
- Create your work zone—I highly recommend creating a differentiated work zone, the main aim here is to take yourself away from all the other distractions in life. Create a space that has all the equipment and inspiration you need to do your best work. Don’t just work on the dining room table or in bed (although that does sound tempting). Get in the mindframe that when you’re in your work zone you’re in a bubble of productivity—don’t let anything else creep in
Goal setting is a fundamental practice for success. Goals are really powerful way to think about, plan and achieve everything you aspire for in your life and career.
- Create short, medium andlong-term goals. Record them in a format you can access easily. You can jotthem down in a journal, write them on a whiteboard or use a digital platformsuch as Trello or Basecamp
- Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. A quick google willprovide a whole heap of tips for writing SMART goals
- Be ambitious. This is a slightcontradiction on the ‘Achievable’ point, but you need to use your goals as away to push yourself. You need to create motivation and drive to propel yourcareer and life, don’t be afraid to write down some lofty long-term goals. Bywriting them down, you ultimately start believing in them and be on yourjourney to achieving them. Do you want a pay-rise or a promotion? Well write itdown as a goal and go make it happen
- Live your goals—check-in andassess them daily. By creating this habit you’ll begin to affirm your goals, especially your lofty stretch goals. As you continue this process the harder toachieve goals eventually become more achievable
Create a presence
We live in an age of information overload, constant noise and distractions. To create new opportunities, you need to create a presence that stands out from this and lets the world know how awesome you are.
- Create your brand
This sort of goes without saying, you’re a creative, create your brand. But this is more than just the obvious stuff like a personal identity, a website, a CV etc. It’s about what you do and say, that creates a perception of who you are. A brand (your brand in this case) isn’t what you say it is, it’s what other people say and believe it is. What perception are you creating? Think about every detail and touch point of your digital and physical presence. If you’ve got a dodgy selfie as your profile pic on LinkedIn, what does that say about you? Define your values, skills, passions and creative personality, and create a brand that projects this. You’ll begin to attract opportunities that align with your skills and passions
- Show your personality
Think about the language and tone you use when writing bios and CVs, you’re a cool AF creative with bags of energy and passion, show the world. Be authentic and get across who you are, people that align with your values and character will want to work with you
- Demonstrate your process
This is really undervalued when it comes to creating portfolios and promoting work. It’s really important to demonstrate the creative process that underpins your
work,because almost anyone can rustle up some highly polished mockups and visuals. Demonstrate you’re a creative problem solver with an abundance of great ideas, by including scamps, sketches, mind-maps—anything that demonstrates your creative process
- Live your brand
Once you’ve defined what your brand is, you need to live it. Promote the specific pieces of work and thinking that align with this. If you claim to be a branding expert then you need to engage with communities that support this, join groups related to branding, work on self-driven branding projects, read brand strategy books, attend relevant talks, write relevant thought pieces, engage in relevant discussion… you get the picture
Create a network
Your network and the people you’ve come across in your career are invaluable. They can open up new avenues and create new connections that lead to something incredible.
- Creating your network
Another no-brainer: get yourself on LinkedIn, populate your profile with as much information about you, your skills, your passions and your career as you can. You can link to external websites and upload PDFs to create a rich virtual reflection of how great you are. Get connecting—but don’t just spam a load of people you don’t know, you want to create quality connections with people you’ve come across in education and work, don’t just add a bunch of mates and randoms. Allow your network to grow organically and continue to connect with people who align with your passions and aspirations. Your network isn’t just a digital entity, it’s also the real relationships you build with peers, stakeholders
andclients. When you do great work and are generally a beacon of positivity and energy people will want to work with you. They’ll even recommend that other people work with you, your reputation as a creative is so important, work on it, nurture it, protect it
- The power of your network
LinkedIn benefits from compound sharing, which basically means, if someone you know likes something you post, their connections are likely to see this post. This is huge, the power of this is HUGE and the analytics prove it. It means you can reach far more people than you ever could otherwise. So on this note, create posts, write articles, share your opinions, share your work and show the world what you’re up to. There’s also great value in letting your network know if/when you’re on the lookout for new opportunities, not all jobs and opportunities are advertised. It’s beneficial to make your posts more engaging by creating graphics; good visuals spread like wildfire and create more impact than words alone. Remember your brand, use it! I’ve had
lotsnew opportunities that have found me through my network, it really does work
- Network collaboration
I also recommend using your network for advice and guidance, it’s so easy to get insular and feel lost if you’ve just left a job. Find a mentor, or mentors,that can provide a sense check on what you’re doing. Even if it’s just to reaffirm that you’re killin’ it. You should also build collaborative relationships and work on projects with other people, it’s a great way to develop and share knowledge. Maybe even try some co-working spaces, again this is a great avenue to make new connections and create new opportunities
Create a growth mindset
Have the belief that you’re in control of your own continued growth and development, and that you can persevere and face any challenge. Hard work and self-belief is key to success.
- Never stop learning
The turning point in my career was when I came across the world of personal development. I’m not talking about life coaches or self-help here, I mean highly successful individuals that share their knowledge and experience. There are vast oceans of knowledge available on leadership, productivity, mindset training, confidence building, thinking creatively, problem-solving, almost anything to help you develop into the best version of yourself. There are so many ways of accessing this knowledge, many of which are free. Ted Talks,YouTube, podcasts, books, talks/workshops, audio books, articles etc. Expose yourself to successful individuals and knowledge and, guess what, success breeds success. There’s a saying ‘that you become the common denominator of the five people you spend the most time with’, well spend as much time as you can with the world’s greatest minds. Hit me up for any specific recommendations
- Read, read, and read some more
I’ve come across many designers in my career that just
don’tread, or at least they don’t read regularly, possibly a generalisation, but I can’t advocate this enough. In the age of countless distractions and the endless paradox of choice, there’s no other medium that elevates your thinking and learning like a good book. If you want to develop your conceptual thinking, brand strategy awareness, type theory or even the soft skills that can really propel your career, there’s something out there for you. Again happy to make recommendations
Your mindset and energy is so important when it comes to attracting new opportunities. If you train yourself to wholeheartedly believe that there’s great opportunities out there for you, guess what, you’ll find them and they’ll find you.
This isn’t about thinking you’re the best designer that ever existed, it’s about believing in your value and worth. Be aware of what you bring to any project, and how valuable your skills and knowledge are. This takes a lot of self-reflection, so reflect on all the awesomeness you bring. Designers are often fragile beings—the dark, looming shadow of self-doubt is never too faraway—but we all offer value, we all have unique perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. Never lose sight of your value
- Attracting opportunities
So as well as all the hard work, you need to have the unrelenting belief that everything you want to achieve will happen and all the new amazing opportunities will come to you. Simple right? If only. It takes a lot of mindset training to have this level of faith in the world. I really implore you to look into this in more detail. This theory comes in many many guises; The Laws of Attraction, Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), The Secret. Seriously look into it. The Laws of Attraction have had a huge impact on my life and career, I try to use this thinking every day, and it really does allow me to thrive in uncertainty. It fundamentally allows me to have faith that the next great opportunity will present itself
I’m merely scratching the surface of my thoughts in this article, there’s an abundance of resources available on all the topics I’ve covered which can provide more detail. I don’t claim to have all the answers here, these are just some things that really made a difference in my career. Hopefully, you find some of it useful and this kick starts your journey to creating the opportunities you want. Please reach out if you’d like to chat about anything in more detail.