How to hire a creative

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When recruiting Graphic Designers, Web Developers and other Creatives, not everybody understands exactly what they should be looking for and how to go about it. As one of the UK’s top creative recruitment agencies, Brand Recruitment have put together these top tips on the things you should consider when hiring a creative professional.

1. Establish the essentials

Firstly, have you decided what the essential requirements are that the candidate must have to do the job? Or, have you only decided on what skills/experience would be desirable? This is a very important thing to establish early on, as in reality the two may be miles apart.

Think about what you need to be designed/developed - for example, is it mainly print, editorially focused literature, digital and social media imagery, creative artwork, websites, or infographics? Once you have a clear idea of these essentials, then you can think about what it is that would be desirable.

It is important to think realistically about this, as finding the perfect candidate who ticks every single box will be hard to come by. Yet, if you can find an individual with the right personality and attitude, they’ll often be able to learn the skills you would find desirable that they don’t currently have.

2. Understand the technical skills required

Once you know what your essentials are, you can use this to figure out the technical skills you need. If the technical side of design is not something you’re familiar with, it could be worth asking for advice from another experienced creative professional or a recruiter that specialises in creative and design recruitment. Or you could spend a bit of time researching online.

Nine out of ten times designers will need to be well versed in Adobe Creative Cloud. Depending on the type of work you need there may be parts of Adobe that are more important than others, or other software experience that is essential.

Work out what previous technical skills will be needed from day one to tick the boxes of your essentials, as well as what skills would be desirable from day one or what could be learnt. There’s endless options out there, so try not to be too fussy about these added abilities, as most creatives that love what they do will be more than happy to pick up new talents for a job if they’re given the chance to practice!

3. Know your candidates

Dress code

If you’re not a corporate firm and don’t need employees in a suit and straight ironed tie everyday, perhaps consider giving creatives a little slack if they’re not suited and booted for an interview. The creative industry is more laid back in general, so don’t be too surprised if your creative candidate turns up to an interview dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. There are of course more corporate creatives out there, but we suggest being clear from the outset if you need candidates to be dressed in corporate attire.


Think about whether you need your candidates to be super gregarious as standard, as it is not uncommon for creatives to be slightly less extroverted. So, expect this, and certainly don’t be put off by it. The onus should be on the work they can produce for your business. Naturally though, if you’re an agency and need somebody who can represent you and needs to communicate with your clients, put the confident personality in as an essential requirement for the position.


You should also consider your office atmosphere. For example, if you’ve not had a creative in the office before and have a no-music policy or don’t let people listen to music on headphones, it may be worth re-thinking this. When you’re glued to a screen all day pulling images about, music can get you through the day. So, you may want to consider being able to flex on this for creatives who don’t need to be on the phone constantly. And if you’re not adverse to it, outline this to candidates during interviews to help sell your office culture. You’d be amazed at the number of candidates who will not take positions purely based on the atmosphere in an office!

 4. Don’t be put off by freelancing

Try not to be put off if the candidates your interviewing freelance on the side, this is common place in the creative industry. We’d say you could expect around 90% of the applicants for a design role to also do freelance services in the evenings and on weekends. There’s no need to look at this as a bad thing. Instead see it as them practising in their spare time, and a sign that they’re passionate about their chosen career. In all honesty, the design industry has never been the highest paid, and as a result this is how a lot of creatives supplement their salaries. So, if you expect candidates to commit 100% to you, you should be prepared to up the salary you’re offering to secure their services.

Freelancing can be seen as more of a difficulty if you’re a design agency. In this instance, you may want to ask your new creative hires to give you a list of their clients before they start, and sign a clause detailing that if they leave they can’t take work from your current clients. This way there’s a real transparency around their freelancing.

5. Ask to see a portfolio

Most creatives will have a portfolio of some of their work, either on a website you can visit, in a PDF or some may attach it along with their CV. Don’t be afraid to ask for this as a part of the process. Equally, if the candidate is more junior and say that a lot of their recent work was confidential, don’t discount them based on this.

If you see somebody with a great CV with excellent design examples, then get them in! And if they have the great CV, but don’t quite have the examples, you could consider setting a small design task. For example, ask them to mock up a flyer using some text and your logo, or get them to create a GIF for your website – anything that can help you assess their technical skills if necessary.

If you need any further advice or would like assistance with a creative hire, please contact Brand Recruitment, or view Brand's current Design and Creative Jobs.


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