It’s that time of year again – when we are overwhelmed by students and recent grads looking for gainful employment.
As a business owner, it never ceases to amaze me how clueless some millennials are when it comes to applying for jobs and their expectations of the work world.
If you are an arts student or recent grad and you want some honest tips to set yourself apart from your peers – please continue reading.
If you are an arts student, or a recent graduate of photography, video, graphic design, animation etc…the only reason you have read this far is probably because your mother forwarded you this article because she wants you to get out of her basement.
And, you will probably stop reading now, because you’re too good for this, I’m just a crusty old guy who doesn’t understand your art and you would never want to work for someone like me anyway.
Well, you’re mostly right – I am a crusty old(ish) guy – but guess what – I don’t care how long you live in your parents basement, so please stop reading now. Here is a link to some videos of cats doing stuff.
Art Is Nice – Business Pays For Food
OK – if you’re going to read on, let’s get one thing straight. I don’t care about art.
Well, not art for arts sake anyway. I am a business owner. I care about making money, and when I’m not making money, I am thinking about ways of making more money.
It just so happens that I am an artist, and the product that I sell is my creative talent and the creative talent of my employees (more on that later).
In a perfect world where money doesn’t matter and we all work to better ourselves – like in the 24th century in Star Trek: The Next Generation (sorry if you are too young to get the reference) – I would like nothing more than to travel the world and explore my creativity.
However, in the real world, the kind of lifestyle that you think you deserve costs money (otherwise you wouldn’t be applying for a job) – so we have to accept a balance between pursuing our artistic ambitions and paying rent – which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Job Hunting Do’s and Don’ts
This should all be common sense – but sometimes it seems that common sense is in short supply these days.
Never, ever, ever send an email or even a text to a potential employer that is not formatted correctly, with real English words, and proper spelling – it doesn’t have to be perfect (because god knows my English isn’t) but it does have be respectable.
i dont care how much u luv ur iphone if u send me a email or txt that looks like this i will delete it without a second glance do i really need to tell u to correck ur f*cking spelling the damn phone highlights ur spelling mistakes on its own if u r two lazy to use proper grammer spelling and even sentence structure why wood i possibly trust u to work for my business
If you are a graphic designer – I expect your resume to look good. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but it cannot be a crappy Word template either.
Speaking of resumes – I don’t care if you love live action role playing or that you have three cats – if it’s not relevant to the job you are applying for – don’t waste my time telling me about it.
Along with a formal resume, you need to have an online portfolio!
You guys are supposed to be the internet generation. You’ve all been online, all the time, since you were born – so why do so many of you not have a f*ck!ng online portfolio?
Use a template site, a free blogging platform, or even just a freaking free 500px account – I need to see your work!
But don’t show me school projects.
Do you know how I know its a school project? Because its ridiculously perfectly done and it doesn’t fit with anything else in your portfolio.
Oh ya – that beautifully lit wine bottle, that studio portrait with flawless Rembrandt lighting, that awkward composite – school projects.
I want to see your work – your projects. I want to get a feeling for your artistic vision.
Millennial Employment Expectations
I could spend an entire column outlining the ridiculous expectations most millennials seem to have about how hard they have to work, what they will be paid and how long it will take for career advancement – but every generation has had its own contingent of those who think the world owes them something.
Hell, it wasn’t that long ago that I would have been part of that same group.
However, it seems like the idea of overnight success has reached epidemic proportions.
Experience is valuable and experience, by definition, takes time to acquire.
Think about it this way – if I have a Senior Designer on staff who earns $120,000 and I can hire a new grad for $40,000 (or less) – why wouldn’t I just replace the single senior employee with three new grads?
I would get three times the work done right?
Wrong – the Senior Designer’s years of experience are worth more to my business than the work of three new grads combined – which is why she is earning $120k+ and you are starting at $40k-.
Top 3 Things Employers Want
It doesn’t matter what job you are applying for or in what industry (but especially for the creative industry), there are three key traits that employers want.
1. Independent Thought & Problem Solving
I don’t want to have to program you like a computer – I want you to be able to think for yourself and solve your own problems.
I am happy to provide guidance and direction, and help solve big problems – that is what I am here for – but most of all I want to hire someone who will take the bull by the horns and get their work done independently and reliably.
In other words: don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions.
2. Personal Ambition
I want to hire employees who have the personal drive to achieve their own success.
Personal ambition isn’t schlepping for promotions – its taking initiative to improve how things are done, improving quality and efficiency and looking for ways to increase sales and profitability.
The more success you achieve, the better it is for my business – so everybody wins.
It might surprise many new grads that talent isn’t top of the list – but without independent thought, problem solving and personal ambition, talent is useless (from a business perspective anyway).
Talent is probably the easiest employable trait for applicants to showcase – especially in the creative industry – so if you want the job, show me some amazing work that is relevant to my business.
What Do You Think?
Are employers unreasonable in what they expect from new grads?
Is the world unnecessarily harsh towards millennials?
Are you a business owner who has had problems hiring millennials?
Are you a business owner who has hired an amazing new grad?
Leave a comment below and let us know!