How to keep up to date with your sector and avoid information overload….

1768714-discovery-engines-policing-the-riot-of-information-overload-rotatorA key piece of advice careers advisers will tell you is, always keep up to date with what is happening in your chosen sector. This is because keeping up with your sector is very important to ensure that you are aware of; coming trends and skills needs,  how your skills and experience match the industry wants,  recruitment processes as well as the types of opportunities on offer to new graduates. In today’s challenging graduate market this advice is more important than ever.

Thankfully, more and more students are undertaking research on their sector while they are studying.  In fact, a  recent report by High Flyers* indicated that  over a third of new students are now starting their career research in their first year of study in order to be well prepared for their graduation and transition into the graduate market.

If you haven’t started your sector research yet,  you are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage for the future, especially as keeping up to date with your sector can be a simple,  painless  process.

Here are my top tips for successfully building your sector knowledge that helps you avoid information overload and builds a realistic understanding of your sector and its employment needs;

  • Create a plan for your sector research: building a strategy or plan for your sector research will stop you becoming overwhelmed with the range of  labour market data that is available.  Identify what career interests you have  and stay focused. The best way to do this is to break down your research into three broad areas; sector ( overview of your industry such as trends/recruitment /growth etc.) , careers ( types of opportunities available and future needs) and finally employers ( who are they, when do they recruit etc.)
  • Get information sent to you: In today’s social media  driven world there is no excuse for not being informed when you can have e-newsletters, industry e- journals and magazines sent to your email inbox or phone.
  • Join professional networks and organisations: Take advantage of your student years by joining professional organisations and networks on reduced student rates. This is great way to keep up to date with developments in your sector and become visible to others and build contacts before you graduate.
  • Start your job hunt early: build in time to your week that is specially for job hunting-even if you are not at the stage to apply. Job hunting in this way will give you loads of information on current trends in the  market and keep you up to date on future skill needs. Look at how employers are describing their opportunity, what job titles are they using? what skills and experience are they looking for and what types of jobs are more in demand?  This will help you understand how  your skills and experience fit into market needs, where your gaps might be and help you prepare for  making applications in the future.  Be curious and look at everything.  And don’t be put off by job titles you don’t recognise as new roles are being developed all the time.
  • Keep a good record of your industry research: keep a ‘little address book’ of employers that you are interested in; when do they recruit, how do they recruit and what do they recruit for.  This book will be invaluable in helping you the future! And why not keep a file on sector developments, future trends and  innovation.
  • Reflect on your findings: It is no use building your industry knowledge if you don’t apply it in practice. So take time to reflect on your industry research findings. What is your research telling you about the health of your sector? Are the vacancies available matching your career ambitions? Are you developing relevant skills and experience for the sector, what can you further develop?  etc,
  • Get out there…One of the best ways to build your sector knowledge is to get out there and gain experience first hand.  Why not meet with  a creative professional who is already in the career area that you are interested in?

If you are not sure about how to develop great sector research or want further information, why not make an appointment with the GSA Career service to discuss your options.

For further resources on Creative sector information can be found on the ‘Useful links’ page on this blog  or why not check out:

Top Tips for marketing your work …

top-tips

Marketing to an audience is part and parcel of being a successful creative professional.  If you ignore this element of your practice,  it will be more difficult to  tell or engage others with your work and  consequently, your audience just wont be able to find you.

As a creative graduate, marketing your practice should be high on your  to do list before your graduate in order to showcase you, your practice, and your professionalism to others- Don’t forget, in today’s competitive graduate market,  many graduate employers will expect  you to have excellent marketing practice and  be visible to them.

Marketing your work may not have been a key element of your practice to date, so if you are approaching your degree show and have not previously thought about your marketing strategy, here are my 5 top tips to help you get started:

Develop your brand by keeping your messages consistent… Know why you are marketing your practice and  help your audience build a great expectation about you and your products by keeping your messages similar, concise and clear.

  • Be found online by making sure that your twitter biography is the same  as your facebook, Linkedin  and so on and so on…this will help you be visible and build trust in your online presence.
  • Keep your visual design reflective of your practice.
  • Make sure you ask GSA career service for their ‘marketing’ handout to find out more.

If you do anything make it a business card…Business cards are probably the simplest way to promote yourself.  Business cards don’t have to be fancy and are fairly inexpensive.  They are worth every penny as they will help to connect  you to your audience or customer, so make sure that you have your business card with you at all times. Core features of a business are;

  • Your name, contact details , email, phone number and a short piece of  information about your creative practice.-You would be amazed about how many business cards that have some of this information missing!
  • See this Entrepreneur.com article on developing business cards to give you some ideas on how your business card can be transformed into an essential marketing tool:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/71900

Keep a stock of eye catching images to send via email /mail to hand at all times…. you never know when you might be asked to supply a image of you or your work for marketing. Recording your work should be part of your practice anyway,  so when you are archiving your work why not take a few more images specifically for marketing reasons…

  • Make sure that your images are up to date, representative of your current practice and professional- poorly presented images will only suggest poor professional practice.
  • JPeg’s are the standard format for most digital and internet applications. Keep the file sizes low and if displaying online you may want to create a watermark it to stop others using it. There are many free ‘watermark software’ options available online, that can help you to do this. 
  • This Creativeboom article on online portfolios is a useful guide on how to use your images successfully: http://creativeboom.co.uk/tips/the-common-mistakes-with-online-portfolios/

Have a few different blurbs written ready to add to press releases  or emails…this is a great time saving tip, a pre-written blurb can help you quickly respond to a request for information…

  • Writing Artist/ Design statements ( 50-100 words in length) are great practice to adopt. They are short statements about current work to support an audience’s understanding of the image (see here for more information: http://www.artbusiness.com/artstate.html)
  • Having a short pre- written blurb about your practice is also a great way to help you in networking situations and pitches as you will have already considered how to articulate your practice in a clear concise way to others.
  • Find out the fundamentals of writing a press release here: http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Press-Release

Develop your mailing list…….and keep it safe…mailing lists of audiences and customers who are already engaged and interested in you work  are an essential element for supporting your practice. Galleries, funders, employers and opportunity providers will  always interested in your mailing lists and your supporters…

  • Always invite  audiences to join your mailing lists by encouraging them to follow you on twitter, ‘liking’ your facebook page or signing up for an e- newsletter. 
  • Don’t ignore your list, send them regular up-dates about your practice, invites  to new shows, details of your professional  developments and success.Keep your contact informative, useful and high quality!! Where you can get them involved with with your work..See this Sumac link for further ideas about your mailing list  http://sumac.com/creative-ways-to-grow-your-mailing-list-with-no-money
  • CreativeBoom have a great article on how to work with your mailing list/clients to keep them engaged: http://creativeboom.co.uk/tips/how-to-successfully-keep-in-touch-with-clients/

The more you progress in your creative career the more you will develop effective marketing strategy that suits you and your practice.  Just remember to keep doing it….

Further resources

 

Fundraising in a recession……

Blue Peter fundraising appeal from 1970sFundraising in a recession is not a hopeless task as it might seem. While it is true that the recession has caused a reduction in funding levels, opportunities and increase competition for it, it is also still true that there is still funding to be won! Here are my top tips for winning funds in today’s market:

Don’t Waste Your Time Guessing….With the media full of gloom it is easy to believe that we are all doomed and that there is no funding available at all, so why bother right?…100% sure this is the case? Get focused and informed by researching the funding landscape for yourself.  Sign up for funding related newsletters, look everywhere, not just creative related funds, be active,  visible and ensure that you are in the right place and the right time when opportunities arise. To get you started, check out Funding Central’s newsletter:  http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk and Government Funding website http://www.governmentfunding.org.uk/

Get Your Story Right….Make sure the funder finds a great story about you and your practice. In challenging times, funders are more likely to invest in individuals who have a proven track record. So the more funders know and see evidence of you and your practice the more likely they are to contribute to your cause. In today’s social media driven environment make sure that your online presence is great, that you have recommendations from others, your previous funders and supporters are given credit (and thanked) and that it proves that you are responsible. Just look at how the design collective, Pidgin Perfect, website showcase their projects, collaborators and media practice: http://www.pidginperfect.com/

Be Confident and Unafraid to Ask…..Don’t become pessimistic or lose your enthusiasm and optimism about your cause. This is a sure way to lose others enthusiasm in you too.  The most successful fundraisers are confident, positive and unapologetic. Make sure that you are too, as it will be infectious and others will see the value in what you are doing and aim to do in the future. Check out this Youtube clip by Courtney Spence that clearly highlights how inspiring and influential your confidence will be in your fundraising activities:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y91nijAWzXY

How’s Your Proposal Doing???…..Make sure your applications are as good as they can be.  Great proposals are; well researched, well written and clear in their purpose.  Over *50% of proposal and funding applications are rejected straight away by funders because they simply don’t match the fund eligibility criteria. So spend the time to research and understand fully the funding that you are interested in and make sure that your proposal matches their criteria. (*http://www.governmentfunding.org.uk).

Finally, Keep Going…Be persistent and look at a variety funding sources. If you are continually unsuccessful, look honestly at your strategy; are you as focused as you can be?, are you matching the funders criteria fully, are you approaching the right funders? What can be tweaked or improved in your proposals or approach? Do you need to seek further advice on your funding approach? Don’t forget that the GSA career service is available to GSA graduates too…

Here are some more sites that are packed full of tips for fundraising in a recession: