Four Rules for Hiring Creatives

By John Huber, EO Nashville member and COO of Moo Creative Media

When it comes to business, the first quarter means hitting the reset button: New budgets, new ideas and, oftentimes, new talent. As the COO of a creative video content company, I’m always scouring for creative talent to fill the ranks. Specifically, employees who find innovative solutions to problems, readily see connections, execute as well as they ideate and foster an environment of imagination and possibility.

With such traits, it’s no wonder everyone wants the “creative” on his or her team. And it’s no wonder why creativity has reached buzzword status, littering applicants’ resumes and nearing the top of every hiring manager’s checklist. Once reserved for the art department or writers’ room, creatives are now working in nearly every corner of every industry. But how do you recognize the right candidates? How do you assess someone’s creativity? Here are four rules I adhere to when hiring creatives:

Tailor the hiring process: An account executive and an art director’s jobs are very different. How you hire them should be, as well. Start with an engaging job description, one that clearly articulates the role and reinforces the company’s personality and culture. When it comes to hiring the right creatives, there’s no substitute for seeing the work they’ve done, how they manage projects and how they make decisions. In addition to asking for a reel or portfolio, create a problem for interviewees to solve that reveals their critical thinking and technical skills. You’ll want to make sure they can successfully devise and implement a solution, and that they will continue to do so for your company’s specific needs.

Search for strategic thinkers: It’s important to hire creatives who produce with intention, which is why you should test for it. In my experience, you’ll want to hire people who understand the “big picture,” can execute regardless of channel or medium, and realize the impact of their decisions. At Moo Creative Media, we hire people who don’t just create a video or commercial, but also create and support the idea behind the video or commercial. These people can brainstorm with the best of them, and can discern which ideas will or won’t support the client’s goals.

Hire for character: Of course you want your employees to be bold and passionate, but be wary of arrogance. Whether the work environment is explicitly collaborative or not, playing well with others is critical. Peter Schutz, former CEO of Porsche, said, “Hire character. Train skill.” I’ve found that the best creative workers are curious, flexible and humble. Humility allows them to recognize and support the best idea, even if it isn’t their own.

Be open to the unconventional: You can hire the best people in the world, but if the work environment and culture aren’t up to snuff, they won’t stay. The market’s too competitive for top-tier talent to remain in an unhealthy environment. Understand that creatives, per their nature, don’t always operate best in conventional settings. This may mean that they get more done at odd hours or in varying locations. As much as is possible for your business, allow for this. Encourage growth—both personal and professional—and be cheerleaders for external projects and passions. You want your company composed of makers and doers who have so much creative energy they can’t possibly contain it in a handful of work projects. Ultimately, if you invest in your employees, in their work environment and in appreciating the work they do, you won’t be disappointed with the return on investment.

Categories: Best Practices LEADERSHIP Lessons Learned PEOPLE/STAFF


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