This week is Digital Cities Bristol – an exciting week if you’re living in Bristol looking to get a job in the creative industries. Organised by the BBC and supported by Bristol Media and Business West , this brilliant initiative offers a whole week of free open-door events and talks from a range of creative businesses in the city, giving people a unique insight into their working life and environment.

Creative agency saintnicks ran an event about how to break into the creative industries. And, as our friends and collaborators, we knew they would have lots of great advice, so we went along to hear what they had to say…

Starting on your career path

The creative industries are very broad and incorporate many different disciplines, including advertising and marketing, publishing, design, TV and film, photography, arts & culture and much more. And then there are the many different roles within each discipline.

It can be difficult to know which area you want to focus on when there are so many options. Broad courses, like foundation courses, can help you to start getting an understanding for different disciplines, allowing you try a bit of everything before deciding on which avenue to pursue.

“I always advise young people to jump around between jobs at first,” says Steve Davies, Executive Creative Director at saintnicks. “I didn’t work for more than 18 months at a time in a job when I was starting out! It gave me the best possible grounding to see different approaches and experience different working environments.”

How to get your foot in the door of creative industries?

saintnicks uses a variety of recruitment methods, including local advertising, promoting through their personal networks and professional networks such as Bristol Media, as well as dipping into their own pool of CVs that have been sent in ‘on spec’.

In such a competitive industry, competition can be fierce, so here’s how to improve your chances of getting an interview:

  • Do your ‘coffee research’ – “Have a chat over a coffee with as many people as you know in creative jobs,” advises Joe Johnston, Head of Digital Strategy. “You can learn more in half an hour of chatting to someone directly than from spending hours on the internet!”
  • Contact local businesses – introduce yourself and find out if they need help with anything. Always do your research into the company first to show initiative.
  • Don’t be afraid to bang on doors – it can be a thankless task but be a bit pushy (but always polite) to show you are determined.
  • Get work experience – “The best thing I did was forgo a few weeks’ holiday to do work experience at different creative agencies,” says Luchia Bennett, Senior Account Manager.

What personal attributes are you looking for?

  • People who can generate ideas – Steve explains that he doesn’t just want good designers, they must have ideas and understanding too.
  • Creativity – even though not all roles in the agency are design-based, they expect everyone to have a ‘creative vocabulary’.
  • Curiosity – can you look at something and think ‘how did they do that?’ and ‘how could I make it better?’
  • Self-motivation – you have to be able to work independently and have a willingness to learn.
  • Energy and enthusiasm – you need to be passionate about what you do and enthusiastic about the ideas you come up with.
  • Good communication – often you will need to work through your ideas together with the client, so relationships are super important in agency work.

How to get the right experience for your CV

It can be tough to get doors to open when you don’t have the right experience or qualifications on your CV, but the team had some great advice for novices to improve their credentials and demonstrate self-motivation.

Firstly, take advantage of free online courses – there are many useful resources online to give you concrete skills and lots to talk about in interviews, including:

  • Free Google courses via the Google Digital Garage – guides you through everything from social media to search engines, and you even get a certificate at the end!
  • Google’s Academy for ads – another useful tool from Google that shows you how to create successful Google ads.
  • Facebook Blueprint – earn official Facebook certifications and badges with Blueprint exams.

Second, develop your own ‘passion projects’. Luchia explains that she built up her content marketing skills off her own back when she started a personal blog. She learnt how to set up ads, went to blogging events and built her personal brand with content marketing skills she taught herself. It showed that she had initiative outside work, which was really useful in her next job interview.

What advice would you offer young people looking to get a job in the creative industries? Or if you are job-hunting at the moment, what challenges have you come up against? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet us at @Ambitiouspr.

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