6 essential skills for working in the creative industries – words Alan Woods
So you’ve recently graduated with a degree that makes most people assume that you’ll become a barista, or, in the best case scenario, a teacher.
But you have different ideas. The days of gap years are gone and its time for you to enter the world of work – albeit in one of the creative industries. Here are six key skills to help you on your way.
You don’t have to be bouncing off the walls. But a smile, willingness, and genuine curiosity about what you’ve been given to do will help you from day one. Hiding behind your fringe and mumbling isn’t going to carry an interview, even though it’s a situation that often calls for it. If you’re shy, think about the abilities that help you stand out. Take pride in them. Stand up straight – and don’t resent making many cups of tea.
For many of us, looking for our first job comes after last using Microsoft Excel in high school. The creative industries are not a case of ‘here be beauty, there be pie charts’. Oh, there’ll be pie charts. And unfortunately, Excel is a wonderful way of organising and sharing information. You’ll come to love a good spreadsheet. There are plenty of Microsoft Office courses available and you can even get on some of them for free. Knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign will also make you friends. Courses for these will involve some cost, but often they’ll be well worth the investment. It’s your career, after all.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Working in the creative industries is notorious for schmoozing and the occasional act of brazen nepotism, but networking is more about spotting opportunities than it is about subterfuge. Follow up on that email and look out for information useful to you and your company. Networking has a lot to do with positivity. A proactive approach to building contacts will be duly noticed and rewarded. Another great way to network your business would be to invest into an influencer marketing agency as it really improves brand awareness.
In many ways the obvious one, as almost all creative industries have communication at their heart. Still, it’s a complex subject. There’s mastering the external email, a long and sometimes painful process. In this case it’s all about being precise and always positive. The internal email is a bit more fun. Don’t be afraid to joke, as long as it’s funny, and a little bit of self-deprecation goes a long way. Communication in the creative industries is all about being adaptable. Every situation requires a new kind of language, and the quicker you become fluent the quicker you will flourish. Communication skills are something else you can work on before you start, and a course in it might just be what you gives you the edge when applying for a new role.
Used to spending all night alone in the library? Didn’t say anything in class because there was always that one guy who wouldn’t shut up? Well, it’s time to put that behind you. It’s a ghastly cliché, sure, but in any creative industry you will be working in a team. You will have to play nice. You will have to do what’s asked of you, with a smile on your face. Teamwork is essentially all transferable skills rolled into one. And, you know, working in a team is actually quite fun.
Novels, painting and poems are not creative industries. They are creative activities, and we encourage you to love and pursue them. However, the company you work for has an objective – to make money. Getting a sense of how what you do achieves this is important, and it’s a sense you soon come to enjoy. Once you see how it all fits together, you can start thinking about starting your own company – becoming your own boss. You don’t have to become a vampire or Donald Trump. But success isn’t something to resent, and understanding good business practice will ultimately make you better at and happier in your job.