How to... Keep your creative skills up to date


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Written by Nathan Mayatt, Workstation - Specialist creative and digital recruiters since 1989.

Keeping ahead of the game by making sure your skills are up-to-date is essential to protect yourself over the next couple of years.

The market has become a full on client led market, which means clients are expecting more for less and are very specific with their requirements. If you don’t have the latest skills or have a sufficiently broad base of skills you will most certainly get left behind.

It’s a difficult choice between the investment in yourself and saving the money. The ideal situation is that you, whenever the opportunity arises, try new things out and invest at least your time. It is all too easy in this market to focus on the what you can do now rather than think about where you need to be. If you do consider investing in software training, we’ve organised a discount with the Academy Class where we have passed the whole discount onto you. Every little bit helps. To get the discount click here.

So here are a few points on some of the things that we see as important for the coming year.

Graphic Design

If you’re a graphic designer don’t fall into the trap of just having Quark or InDesign skills. This is particularly important for freelancers. Clients are asking for both skills and if you are limited to only one of these software packages you will be reducing the number of opportunities available to you.

Also find time to get used to the latest versions of packages. At least have a very good understanding of what new versions can do if you haven’t had the chance to use them. Of course it is also a given that you have Photoshop and Illustrator to a high standard.

Overall, we’re seeing clients wanting or preferring people with a wider base of skills, so additional knowledge of the web really is going to help. In particular familiarise yourself with Flash and Dreamweaver if you haven’t already. Also, while not essential, exposure to or experience of account management and studio management experience, can do no harm and can often benefit.

Digital Design and Development

Broadening your skills base as a digital designer or developer is as important as it is for the graphic design world. It’s obviously much harder due to the volume of skills and experiences out there but the more you can get your head around the better.

For web developers we are seeing more and more clients asking for ActionScript with AS3, so if you only know AS2 get working on those skills. We’ve also seen an increase in the demand for PHP as it is open source and it has now become more popular than ASP. Other things on the increase are Ruby on Rails and Flex.

For web designers, it’s important to have exposure to HTML and CSS to complement your design skills. 8 years ago this was important so that designers could compliment their Dreamweaver skills with hand coding. This went out of fashion for a few years and has now come back. Now it’s not just about the look and feel but also about having the ability to build sites. It’s gone full circle and you have got to be more of an all-rounder.

Finally with the increase in the number and use of Content Management Systems it’s important you have a good understanding of how they work. This is particularly true on the clientside. Knowledge of how to implement the design or linking with the backend is important and will continue to be so. There is no way you will be able to get to know all the systems, as there are so many of them, but make the point of understanding how they are structured and generally work.

One of the things we are seeing a rise in is the demand for SharePoint.


The level of traditional editorial work has declined so it is just as important for content people to have both traditional and digital experience. We see the online content side increasing over the coming years as the market moves on from a focus on SEO to great content and user retention. If you’re an online content person make sure you keep up-to-date with SEO changes in the market so that not only is the content right but that it helps get the site found. You need to be aware of the do’s and don’ts.

Project Managers

We are seeing an increase in the demand for Agile though it is not as great as that of Prince 2. If you get the chance to learn Agile then I would.

Finally, all of us at Workstation are happy to give pointers on how to improve your chances in the current market.

Thanks and all the best. Nathan Mayatt.


Our exceptional blend of the professional and the personal makes us a market leader in recruiting, with the UK’s best resource of people working in creative, media and corporate communications. We identify the precise needs of every company with jobs to fill, and interview every person that comes to us for freelance/temporary, contract and permanent work. Our consultants combine skills savvy with industry insight, to ensure the optimum fit between person and position.


Visit our website to find out more or give us a call @020 7371 7161


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