Employment Trends and Best Practices for Hiring Creative Talent in 2018

We’re living in an increasingly automated world, where robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are slowly replacing workers involved in physical labor and data processing. But the demand for creative professionals remains as strong as ever. AI comes nowhere close to competing with human copywriters, market researchers, brand managers, and design professionals.creative

Whether your business is hospitality or health care, retail or real estate, you need visionaries to help your products or services stand out in a crowded marketplace. But it may be hard to hire new ones: According to The Creative Group (TCG), 53% of advertising and marketing executives said it’s challenging to find creative professionals.

Understanding Recent Economic and Hiring Trends

This finding isn’t surprising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 4.1%, meaning almost everyone who wants a job has one. Of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, only 2.1% of that demographic is out of work. At the same time, most of the executives polled say they are hiring.  Seventy-eight percent plan to fill vacated positions, while 5% anticipate adding new jobs in the first half of 2018.

Other findings:

  • For January through June of 2018, only 17% of respondents expect to freeze hiring. Compare that to 21%, 6 months ago and 20%, 12 months ago.
  • No respondents anticipate eliminating positions, the same result as 1 year ago but down from 4% in the second half of 2017.
  • Creative executives surveyed also shared which areas they expect to hire in 2018, with content marketing topping the list, followed by brand and product management, digital marketing, marketing research, and copywriting.
  • However, finding professionals with skills and expertise in web design and production, marketing research, brand and product management, and digital marketing can be challenging, according to the survey respondents.

Why the uptick in hiring activity at the beginning of the year? This is the time when new budgets kick in. Retailers, manufacturers, and the hospitality industry want to maintain that post-holiday business growth, while advertising/marketing teams are eager to launch campaigns to engage and keep consumers’ attention.

The Soft Skills in Demand

Each role in the creative field requires different technical abilities and knowledge, but all of them share certain key traits. Here are the leading soft skills to look for when hiring:

  • Collaboration. It’s no secret digital marketing campaigns are growing in dominance. That’s the main reason more than two-thirds of advertising and marketing executives surveyed said their teams are working more closely with IT than before. Creative employees should also be able to collaborate well with colleagues in sales, finance, research and development, and production.
  • Communication. As words and images are the bread and butter of the creative world, you need professionals who have a high level of competence not only in writing and speaking, but also in presentations, persuasion, and visual communication. During interviews, pay attention to how job candidates use speech, visuals, and body language to tell a story and influence audiences.
  • Willingness to learn. With a low unemployment rate, you may not be able to land candidates with the exact technical skills you seek. But don’t let that get in the way of hiring an otherwise talented creative pro. Be open to bringing in motivated but less-experienced job candidates and then developing them for bigger and better things.
  • Flexibility. You can either hire talent who can wear many hats, or teach existing employees to “hybridize” their skills. Either way, you’ll get professionals who are able to adapt to ever-changing trends in technology, consumer preferences, and market force. Look for talent who like to accept new challenges and aren’t reluctant to embrace change.

How to Attract and Land Top Candidates

Skilled creative professionals gravitate toward employers who offer the most competitive package of wages, perks, and benefits. The following items are a must when trying to attract them:

  • An attractive salary package. Make sure the compensation you offer is on par with or above local averages. Use reliable sources to research the latest compensation ranges for industry professionals, and customize the results for your area using salary calculators, which you can find online.
  • Opportunities for growth. Today’s professionals want to learn and stay challenged. To woo creative specialists, talk up training opportunities, career pathing, the company’s financial health, and a workplace culture where talent and loyalty are rewarded.
  • Flexibility. Creative talent loves what they do. In fact, creatives report the highest level of workplace satisfaction, according to a Robert Half study on workplace happiness, which reported on a number of professional fields. But that doesn’t mean they’re willing to put their personal life on the back burner. Perks like flextime and telecommuting can make a huge difference in morale, productivity, and employee retention. Some professionals are even willing to take a slightly lower salary in exchange for the ability to work when and where they want.

Act Quickly

It takes an average of 5 weeks to fill an open staff-level position, finds a recent TCG survey. For managerial roles, the timeline stretched out 2 weeks longer. The best candidates may not be willing to wait that long. If a candidate impresses you with their personality, work ethic, and mad creative skills, act quickly to extend a job offer, making sure you don’t skip any necessary steps. 

In today’s economic climate, hiring isn’t always easy. Stack the odds in your favor by understanding the latest employments trends and following the best practices for recruiting and hiring.

Diane Domeyer is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. For more information, visit

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