5 Things I Learned from My Struggle with Hiring Creatives

Here’s the thing: we needed a Content Strategist.
We needed someone who had a deep understanding of how content works for different brands. So we posted the job ad in the hopes that we’d find someone out there who could bring some fresh ideas to the table, someone young and in-the-know.

You see, almost everyone in our team is a millennial. We grew up with Facebook and Instagram, but newer platforms like Snapchat (ish) and TikTok were alien to us. We needed someone from Gen Z, who could show us how to reach younger audiences through our content, someone we could learn from and vice-versa. We were confident this person was out there, we just hadn’t found them yet.

But then the applications started coming in.

While we were certainly impressed by what we saw, there was something about all these applicants that concerned us. They were a little “too creative”, a bit too overzealous, a bit too involved. In fact, they’d be so involved that they’d even take over other aspects of the projects that were supposed to be carried out by other members of the creative team.

While being involved isn’t a bad thing, we needed someone who understood that the campaigns they created need to be carried out by the photographers, copywriters, editors, and everyone else. We needed them to trust other members of the team to bring their campaigns to fruition.

Long story short: we didn’t find our content strategist. Not yet, at least.

But I did learn a few valuable lessons from this ordeal:

It’s all in the job ad.

The job ad is what separates the good apples from the bad. Often, people don’t put as much thought into the job ad as they should. You have them send a cover letter and their portfolio, and that’s it. If people aren’t interested enough to read through the entire job ad, then they’re just setting themselves up to fail. Craft an engaging job ad that not only piques interest but also allows your company culture to shine through. Aside from offering a competitive salary, show them what else they’re in for (career growth, a formidable team, endless learning opportunities, free bagels for breakfast, what have you). Let these applicants decide for themselves if yours is a company they’d want to be a part of.

The hiring process for creatives is different. 

When it comes to hiring creatives, the process is a little more complicated. You’ll need to look outside the box and find other ways to gauge their competence aside from asking the typical interview questions. During the interview process, consider throwing hypothetical scenarios at them to see how they’d respond so you can better gauge their thought process and see what their creative mind can come up with on the spot.

Find someone as creative as they are rooted in strategy.

It’s easy to find someone creative and bursting with ideas, but it’s a lot more challenging to find someone who can organise all their ideas and turn them into profitable marketing strategies. Instead of being impressed by thoughts alone, find someone whose ideas have a life of their own.


Look for that “collaborative fit”.

Aside from merely looking for someone talented and creative, it’s just as essential to ensure they’re a “collaborative fit.” You might want to consider inviting applicants to a short collaborative activity and see how they’re able to communicate and work through conflict with other members of the team. Just because they’re talented as hell doesn’t automatically mean they’re right for your team.

Watch out for egos.

Creatives can be snooty and a little proud (it takes one to know one lol). A good creative hire should be flexible, open to criticism, humble, strategic, and have an inquisitive mind. Egos have no place in the creative workspace! Rather, creatives should be able to lead by example.

We’re nowhere near finding our ideal content strategist, but it helps that we’re more aware of whom we’re looking for. Creatives are an integral part of our business and, as such, we need to put in a lot more effort into picking out the right ones to work with. Do you have anyone to recommend? 🙂


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