For Senior-Level Creatives, What is the Recruitment Process Like at a Recruiting Agency?

A creative manager runs through the clouds to get to the highest ladder

Senior-level creative professionals are in demand. If you're a creative director or art director with a decade of experience or more, you've got a lot of options. But why should you slog through endless online job listings? Consider working with a recruiting agency to find the job of your dreams. Read on to learn what the recruitment process looks like.

1. Have a conversation
Whether you're actively looking for a new position or just curious about your career options, the recruitment process starts with a no-pressure chat. "The first step is just a conversation," says Angela Vitzthum, assistant vice president of The Creative Group in Chicago. The recruiter will get to know you, and you'll learn about what the agency does and get the inside track on the local job market.

2. Show off your skills – and your personality
Recruiters certainly want to see your portfolio, but they also want to see your personality. "When candidates come in, we talk about their background and strengths," Vitzthum says. "And then we talk about soft skills and what kind of environments they want to work in." That way, the agency can match you with a workplace where you'll be happy and successful. Some organizations will be looking for a creative director who leads conceptually; others prefer one who's more hands-on. Either way, the agency will present you with appropriate placements.

3. Be up front about your needs
The recruiter will negotiate for you in the recruitment process, so he or she needs to know your work preferences and salary requirements. Are you open to part-time or contract work, or are you looking for a full-time position? And what amount of pay will make you say yes to a gig? The recruiter will only send you positions that match your range. "We don't want to give a candidate an offer that we know they're going to turn down," Vitzthum says. It's also helpful for the recruiters to know what perks and benefits you consider deal-makers or deal-breakers.

4. Consider the opportunities
With their fingers on the pulse of the local creative job market, recruiters are aware of unlisted jobs – and even know when firms are only starting to consider adding personnel. "If we find someone who's a good fit, we can sometimes build the case to get them hired," Vitzthum says. When the recruiting agency finds a position that might be a good match for you, they'll present your profile to the organization. If the hiring manager agrees it could be a good match, you'll get a call about the position and, if you're interested, you'll chat on the phone or meet for an interview. Afterward, the agency will speak to both you and the hiring manager about how to proceed. If it's a match, you'll negotiate pay and benefits through the recruiter and set a start date.

5. Keep the lines of communication open
Whether the position you land through the recruitment process is temporary or full time, you should stay in touch with your recruiter. Send him or her an email every three to six months to share how the new gig is going. The recruiter is just as invested in your success as you are. And the next time you're looking for a new position, he or she will be up-to-speed and ready to help.