How young creatives can build a career in 2021

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A young graduate looking to enter the industry in the middle of a pandemic? Well, you're not alone. According to the BBC, there are at least seven ways in which young people employment (or lack thereof) has been affected by the Covid crisis, either by having to leave the workplace first or by having to be furloughed before other senior staff.

In short, if 2020 hasn’t been a difficult year for most of us, under-25s have had it even worse.

Pro tips to build a creative career in 2021

How do you build a creative career in this climate? Surely anxiety piles up quite considerably and goes to directly affect mental health. Fortunately, there are ways to look at your future without being discouraged – and there are businesses, programmes and organisations willing to help with that.

Though perception clearly needs to change when it comes to hiring young people in most organisations, there are some who are starting to make the first steps in a healthy, helpful direction – even and especially during the pandemic. I’ve had a chat with Tristan Macherel, Executive Creative Director at Landor & Fitch Europe, who partnered with technology brand Honor to deliver a global creative programme for young people. More on that later.


Image credit: Gabriela Pruszkowska

What’s happening in the Coronavirus job market?

With employment rates dropping and a fall in open creative roles in 2020, it is normal for young people to see the Covid job market as more competitive than ever before. More talent is applying for fewer roles, and companies preferring more senior roles/professionals with more experiences certainly don’t help.

There is hope however, according to Tristan. “Employment rates have taken a hit because of the pandemic, but the positive news is that the creative industry will always be needed – so we need to keep as upbeat as possible,” he says.

“Young people are the future. They have more ability to adapt and are essential for companies looking to stay future-proofed. They also add to a business’ diversity, which increases competitiveness and creativity.”

Young people still have the opportunity to upsell themselves and their skills to companies looking for talent, showcasing their skills and demonstrating the kind of enthusiasm that is so powerful in juniors who are just starting out.


Image credit: Tag Collective Arts

How to enter the job market in 2021

Now, while it sounds extremely challenging to enter the industry right now, Tristan believes it is still quite possible and the best way is to aim to stand out. Develop new skills, find your specialisation or something that makes your work unique, be the difference that you want to bring in a company. “This can be done by developing additional know-how to differentiate yourself to your potential employer,” Tristan adds. “It’s also essential that you are curious and determined. Those two things will put you in good stead.”

Programmes like Stand Out With Honor, which involved a number of creative organisations alongside Landor & Fitch Europe as part of the initiative, are a good place to start. Back in October/November, the programme invited creative professionals to showcase their work to earn an internship with Grey, and the Industry Club has recently launched Marketing Debuts to help inject more diverse talent into the industry.

It is also recommended to broaden your horizons and start considering more varied experiences in the industry. This is not necessarily to say unpaid internships as an office runner or coffee-person, but do keep in mind that any experience can be meaningful – especially these days.

The opportunities are, indeed, out there. And there are those who can still succeed in the middle of a pandemic.


Image credit: Daniel Quirke

How can businesses help?

But it would be foolish and quite pretentious to ask only of young people to go the extra mile and impress companies. Businesses must be willing to change as well, and in more than one aspect.

Tristan says: “Attracting diverse young talent is essential for any business, no matter what industry they are in. One of our key priorities at LANDOR & FITCH is to broaden and diversify our talent pool by tapping into a group of candidates from a variety of backgrounds and socio-economic groups around the world. Workspace culture is critical to attracting and retaining talent and a business needs to create the conditions and environment that allows young talent to flourish.”

Workspace culture is critical.

It may be a while before the job market actually starts recovering, but it is quite certain that every crisis is fleeting. Businesses will reinvent if needed, new ways of working are emerging, and social-distancing is opening whole new worlds and horizons for professionals wanting to work on a global level. These factors shouldn’t be underestimated, and they could ultimately lead to a truly globalised workforce that businesses can tap into. If they are willing to ride along.


Image credit: Stuart Holmes

How young people can build a creative career in Covid times

Obviously creative programmes such as Honor’s can help, but they’re not the only ways in which creative professionals can find their own opportunities.

According to Tristan, there has never been a better time to be on social media as a creative. “I think I would use the power of social media to broaden my research globally. Indeed, it is now possible to work from anywhere on the planet, which was not the case when I started. In fact, that was not the case until this year.”

Young people have a greater ability to adapt and most of them are already familiar with new digital tools. I think they have to open up to all the possibilities. All experiences, even outside of their studies, are interesting and can lead to unexpected paths. A career is long, so you have to stay open to anything.”

A career is long, so you have to stay open to anything.

You are also advised to think ahead of times and start envisioning new opportunities. What skills are most likely to be sought after in 2021? Is it the latest remote filming software or a mind-mapping app? Is it Teams or another team and project-management application to handle remote work? In all honesty, the perfect skill for you might even be about using a freelance invoicing platform, for what we all know.

Your time is now to think about those opportunities and aim to stand out. Once you know what kind of value you can bring to a business, rest assured that your prospective employer will know that too.

Header image: Tag Collective Arts


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