Top 20 career tips to help you kick-start 2020!

  • Jhonny Núñez
  • Samuel Bromwich
  • Sabreen Hassan
  • Anfisa Strizh
  • The Dots Team
  • Kate Costigan
  • Erin Aniker
  • Anna Broadhurst
  • Marina Semencuka
  • Alex Bec
  • Jade Tomlin
Last year we launched our Asks Hub after being inundated from our community for career advice. We’ve had thousands of questions and and tens of thousands of answers so far – highlights include words of wisdom from industry legends such as:

Priya Matadeen (general manager, Dazed)
Alec Dudson (founder and editor-in-chief, Intern Magazine)
Jade Tomlin (creative director, AKQA)
Alex Bec (co-founder, It's Nice That)
Rankin (founder, RANKIN)
Vikki Ross (copy chief)

And many more!

Check out these top career tips below.

Want your question answered by the industries top creative heavyweights? Ask here.
Illustration by Marina Semencuka
1. How to write a cover letter for the creative industry
As someone entering the creative field, it can be quite tricky to know how you can make your cover letter stand out from the crowd. Holly Tucker (founder, Holly & Co) has seen many cover letters in her career – here are her thoughts and suggestions: “I have had video cover letters on email which both showcased their skills and applied for the job all in one go. If you are a graphic designer, why not send in your work or a boldly designed letter – it could be the perfect way to catch someone's eye”. To see the rest of Holly’s advice, check out the Ask here!
2. How to secure your first job in the creative industry
It’s the new year and you’re now ready to start your new career in the creative industry! But how do you go about securing your first job? Alec Dudson’s (founder and editor-in-chief, Intern Magazine) advice is to not downplay the value that you can give to a role when applying for your first job in the creative industry. “Often when we're looking for a first job, we talk ourselves down because we feel that ‘experience’ is the only measure by which we're valued. It's not. If you've got a personality that brings the best out of the team you're working in, that's hugely valuable, so is commitment, eagerness to learn, drive, passion and so much more”. To see the rest of Alec’s response, check out the Ask here.
3. How to approach a mentor and ask for their time
One of the best ways to fast track your career is to get help from a mentor – so how do you approach someone? The advice from our community is to first see if you have any common contacts – it’s always easier to approach a potential mentor if you know someone in common. But if you don’t have any mutual connections, don’t fret! Do your homework on them, introduce yourself, and “be very clear on what you need and in which area you need to improve” advises Abraham Asefaw (founder of The Pop Up Agency). Don’t be afraid, just ask! To see more advice, check out the Ask here.
4. How to maintain a relationship with your mentor
Congratulations, you now have a mentor because you followed the brilliant advice from the Ask above! Now, how do you go about maintaining that relationship with them? Have goals for regular catch ups with your mentor that work for both your schedules. Jade Tomlin (creative director, Tribal Worldwide) says “the strongest mentor / mentee relationships have been when it feels like a two way street”, and so have a keen interest in your mentors work, ask about their lives and stay aware of what they’re working on. More advice on this can be found here!
5. How to become a good mentor
You’ve made it far enough in the industry that someone is asking you to mentor them! What does it take to be a good mentor to someone? “Make sure you respect finding the time to really, deeply understand the person you are managing / mentoring” advises Alex Bec (co-founder, It's Nice That). Chaka Sobhani (Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett) recommends that you find out what their goals are and “help them get clarity around those goals, be they day-to-day as well as future ones, and how to get there”. Last but not least, Priya Matadeen (general manager, Dazed) encourages you to “make people empowered, they often know the answers or the way forward, they just have to be reminded of that”. For more amazing advice from top industry creatives, check out the Ask here.
Illustration by Anna Broadhurst
6. How to collaborate with your creative industry icon
Looking to collaborate with your career crush or your dream creative company? What’s the best way to reach out to them? Richard Robinson (managing director, Oystercatchers) suggests that you “research them and find out why you'll be interesting… search out the person you're looking to connect with across multiple platforms until you've built up a picture of what kind of work they're creating and why you are going to be the one person who'll take them to the next level”. Another top tip is to post or search for collaboration call outs on our Asks Hub here.
7. How to find agency representation as a photographer
This one is for all the photographers out there! Looking to get agency representation? Here’s some advice from photography legend Rankin - “Initially choose an agent to target who represent photographers that you like, but are not necessarily the same as you (work wise). Agents are very unlikely to take a photographer on if they have people whose work is similar to one of their current roster”. To see the rest of Rankin’s advice, check out the Ask here.
8. How to start your own business
Wanting to start your business but not sure how or whether it will be for you? Start up expert Fleur Emery recommends that you “look for people who have started similar kinds of businesses and ask them to share their experience and also to go to events through places like Huckletree and General Assembly to hear people who are a bit further along from you”. For more advice on this from Holly Tucker (founder, Holly & Co), David Gamble (creative director, Truant London) and more, head to the Ask here!
9. How to manage time when entering the freelance industry and starting your own business
You’ve got a full time job but you would like to go freelance and start your own business – how do you manage your time? Roberta Lucca’s (co-founder, Bossa Studios) advice is acceptance and discipline. “Acceptance to understand that you will work way longer hours for a period of time until you start making money (or raise money) for your new business. Discipline to ensure you block proper time on your evenings and weekends to work on your new venture”. To see more advice from copy chief Vikki Ross and Lu Li (founder and CEO, Blooming Founders), check out the Ask here.
10. How to pitch ideas for funding
The advice here is to be prepared: do your research, make sure your budgets and costs are all accounted for so you have an idea of how much funding you need. Keep your idea simple – find a problem and fix it with your proposal. The Dots’ Pip Jamieson recommends that you do practice pitches before the real thing – practice in front of your friends and family if you have to! Lu Li’s golden advice is to build relationships with investors early on: “Don't start pitching when you need the money”!
Illustration by Erin Aniker
11. How to jump back into your career after a hiatus
Whether it’s for travel, family, mental health or something else, getting back into the flow of your career can be quite tricky after an extended break. But lucky you! You’re on The Dots and you have an amazing community who can help you achieve your career dreams. The consensus here is to analyse your career goals – find out what it is that you want to do, what your strengths are and utilise your network: “Start talking to other people in the industry and get their opinion, but more importantly as you start talking to them you'll figure out for yourself how you feel about it all” advises Rebecca Rowntree (creative director and founder, This Way Up Podcast). Most importantly, there are brilliant initiatives out there to help people in this position, an amazing one being Creative Equals’ Creative Comeback.
12. How to network
Networking can be a pretty daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be if you know the right events to attend. Hot events mentioned include events from: Glug, General Assembly, and Creative Mornings. Fleur Emery’s top tip for networking is: “don't always be looking to network up, sometimes people who are just one step ahead of us career-wise can give us current information which can inform our next steps.” For more on this, check out the Ask here. Also check out our brilliant networking events on The Dots here!
13. How to be a great creative director
This one is from Priya Matadeen (general manager, Dazed) herself! The community responded that a great creative director is someone who has an original point of view and a strong vision. They need to be able to be a strong communicator and clearly set out the concept. But they also need to have a strong collaborative mindset, and to be able to grow and be inspired by those around them. Does this sound like you? Check out some great Creative Director opportunities here!
14. How to start your own podcast
Is podcasting your side-hustle for the new year? Sarah Ellis (co-founder, Amazing If) has some amazing advice to kick start your new hobby! Sarah is co-host to the podcast ‘Squiggly Careers’. Having over 106 episodes and 250k downloads, Sarah uses audacity to record her podcast and Pixiu to do her editing. For more advice from Sarah on starting your own podcast, check out the Ask here.
Illustration by Kate Costigan
15. Do I need a website to get a design job?
Is it finally time to invest in creating your own website to get that dream design job? Design legend Sarah Boris thinks that it isn’t essential to have a website, however make sure you have an online presence (make sure that Instagram is popping)! Sarah says if you don’t have a website, have a great PDF portfolio: “What I like about PDFs in comparisons to website is that you can control how people navigate it more than a website would”. For more advice on this from Alex Bec (co-founder, It's Nice That), Paul Kemp-Robertson (co-founder, Contagious) and more, take a look at the Ask here.
16. Creative resources for inspiration
The resounding advice on getting inspiration from our community is to step away from the screen. Suggestions for inspiration include exercising, taking a walk in nature, reading Eye Magazine and going to museums (signing up to the Museum Association Card is highly recommended)! Want to know what inspires Rankin’s iconic aesthetics? Check out the Ask here.
17. Top places to hot desk in London
Time to bring your career dreams into reality this 2020! Our community have come together with their top places to work in London – places include: Blooming Founders workspace in Shoreditch, Millers Junction, Cadoo Works, The Hoxton, V&A Library, Google Campus and many more! Check out all the suggestions here :-)
18. Inspirational podcasts
Get inspired with our community’s favourite podcasts! These include: Creative Pep Talk, Holly Tucker’s Conversations of Inspiration, Design Matters, Sarah Ellis’s Squiggly Careers, the RSA Podcast, Startup Microdose, Dissect Podcast and many more. Check out the full list of recommendations here. Special shoutout to Protein Studios’ new podcast Stories of Growth – check it out here!
19. Advice and recommendations for young creatives in London
As a creative in London, you’re exposed to a wealth of amazing things to do in the city. Our community’s top suggestions are events by SheSays (a community of creatives who hold free events twice a month), Typocircle (talks catered towards designers) and How To Academy (for interviews with iconic guests, including Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners). But it’s not all about the hustle. Be sure to get yourself a National Theatre Entry Pass for affordable tickets to shows in the West End. For the film buffs out there, the BFI and Close-Up Cinema have great film programmes. Be sure to keep up with the hottest events here on The Dots!
20. Advice for when you’ve been let go
Being let go from a job is one of the toughest things one can experience in life. The biggest piece of advice one can take away from this is to surround yourself with a community of amazing, inspiring and thoughtful creatives to keep yourself going. And there’s no better place to do that than on The Dots! Check out this Ask here to see how top creatives in the industry like Sir John Hegarty, Sarah Boris, Paul Kemp-Robertson, Vikki Ross and Richard Robinson all give heartfelt, meaningful advice to one of our members going through their first experience of being let go.


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