The effects of the corona crisis on the creative job market

Published by

Being one of the world’s largest creative communities, Creativepool is in a unique position to understand to what extent the creative industry is recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak.

We had the power to make a difference by asking about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on businesses, employees and freelancers across the creative industries in the past year. We created two surveys and launched them as a follow-up to our first reportone for full-time employees and freelancers, one for business leaders from agencies, creative services, brands and creative companies. Both included a section for unemployed professionals.

This is one of a series of articles which will look at the impact of COVID-19 on the creative industries. This article will examine the effects of the lockdown on the job market, particularly the creative industries. Here is what we found out.

The job market is in bad shape

Our survey of the Creativepool community has revealed several underlying issues in the current job market, caused and exacerbated by the prolonged COVID-19 crisis.

With over half of the unemployed respondents stating they have lost their most recent job due to the COVID crisis [Graph 1], the pandemic has already affected jobseekers considerably – but the unemployed are not the only ones in distress right now.


Graph 1 - Jobseekers Survey

In the business leaders’ portion of our survey, one third of the respondents has stated they have fired all or some of the freelancers that used to work with them. We have already looked at the freelance industry in a separate part of this report, but this is yet another confirmation of the overall lack of work across the industry [Graph 2].


Graph 2 - Business Leaders Survey

In this climate of uncertainty, a vast majority of our respondents has chosen not to change their job. A staggering (yet not too surprising) 89% has preferred to stick with their current stability and remain in their role [Graph 3], most likely due to an overall lack of opportunities in the job market.


Graph 3 - Members Survey

In fact, 61.6% of the unemployed in the Creativepool community believes there are currently way less roles available for their skillset, while nearly a quarter has stated there are absolutely no roles available for them [Graph 4]. This has led some to re-skill or expand their current skillset, either by learning new skills or via online courses – though interestingly, nearly a third has chosen to go the freelance route [Graph 5].


Graph 4 - Jobseekers Survey


Graph 5 - Jobseekers, all responses aggregated

The freelance market may as a consequence become even more crowded than it actually is – which isn’t usually bad if the demand meets the offer. Unfortunately, we already know that freelancers are struggling considerably doing lockdown and this extra influx of professionals from full-time positions will unlikely help.

Even so, though opportunities seem less and work seems scarce, 90% of the respondents are, quite unsurprisingly, still applying for jobs as we speak [Graph 6].


Graph 6 - Unemployed

Here are some comments from our respondents:

I’m newly graduated. I was looking forward to gaining some experience directing and creating/marketing shows so that one day I could pursue a career in writing/as a creative director/screenwriting. I'm having to reevaluate my career path. I even lost my roommates, so money is probably going to be tight for a while yet.
Researcher, Unemployed, United Kingdom

Connected to the trade show industry we have had little or no work since late March and expect none through the end of the year.
Design Partner, Creative Agency, United States

Current hires

In the current climate of uncertainty, those willing to enter the industry and the new redundancies weren’t the only professionals forced to tackle a shifting job market. According to 7 in 10 business leaders, new hires have also been put on hold during this time. With less work, tighter budgets and a drop in profits, companies are most likely unable to afford or justify new talent, resulting in a number of contracts being cancelled before they started [Graph 7].


Graph 7

As a consequence, only 27.9% of business leaders have reported that their company is currently hiring or looking for new talent [Graph 8]. These findings match the responses in our Members survey, which shows that exactly 61.6% of companies are currently not hiring at all [Graph 9].


Graph 8 - Business Leaders Survey


Graph 9 - Members Survey

With the fate of live events still on balance and production houses struggling to perform COVID-compliant work, it is not hard to imagine the kind of toll the outbreak has already taken from most sectors of the industry. The job market is in a delicate balance right now, though the BBC reports that more jobs are being posted now than at the beginning of lockdown restrictions. Still, the amount of jobs available at the moment is still 70% of the 2019 average.

Surely the job market is slowly recovering, as the world starts to adapt to a new normal and businesses in the industry find new ways to survive. That is one thin silver lining in such a challenging global situation.

Here are some comments from our respondents:

We've been some of the lucky ones. But it's not without hard graft on our part. As soon as we went into lockdown, we lost our biggest client. So we immediately set to work trying to recover, helping existing clients with amended projects, pooling resources and embracing new ways of working. We suffered, but we remained strong, we were there for one another and we tried to spread positivity when there seemed to be none. We even designed and built a website around this: Now we're a couple of months in and we're looking forward to being back together again and navigating this brave new world!
Co-founder, Creative Agency, United Kingdom

Since my office is near my home, I am coming here to give IT support for the team. We used all of our savings to keep the core of our team without reducing salaries.
Innovation Manager, Design Agency, Brazil

What job opportunities will there be after the pandemic?

Still, our findings suggest that we might see another technological boom post pandemic. 71.8% of the respondents have stated that their office has remained shut the whole time [Graph 10], and we know that workers have either been furloughed or instructed to work from home.


Graph 10 - Members Survey

One thing seems certain: the coronavirus outbreak has boosted a range of technological advancements that were long overdue. 75.8% of the industry will keep supporting remote working even when the pandemic is over [Graph 11], in one form or the other; meaning that this quite eventful start of the decade will usher in a new era for the future of work, and certainly for the future of the wider industry.


Graph 11 - Business Leaders

And so, most of the industry is still keeping hopeful during this time. While a quarter of the business leaders believes that the situation might get worse, nearly 55% thinks that the industry will gradually improve, with an additional 11.5% stating that it might be stronger than it was pre-pandemic [Graph 12]. We certainly like to hope for the latter.


Graph 12 - Business Leaders

Here are some comments from our respondents:

I think the pandemic united us, making calls once a week with all our partners from all over the world trying to find solutions, how to communicate, and to know the personal situation of everyone in their countries. Hope we have learned that by working together we will get much better results.
Executive Producer, Production Company, Spain

It was the moment to shine for all of us and fight a new big problem for the industry. This pandemic has brought new behaviours for consumers.
Creative Art Director, Advertising Agency, Spain

Creativepool Coronavirus Survey Report – Part 2

Header image: Anattic TV


More Industry



The adorable little homemaker of Rothco and Woodie's - #BehindTheIdea

Who remembers the Acts of Homemaking campaign from Woodie's? It was one of the highlights of the 2020 Christmas ads, and a chance for Woodie's and Rothco to tell a lovely story about the kindness of a neighbourhood at Christmas time. Arguably, 2020...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial