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How creative pros can show their worth

12:33 PM EDT, June 25, 2013

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No matter how impressive your peers may find your most recent Dreamweaver shortcut, it’s never going to sound as good to the majority of recruiters and hiring managers as “I closed a $94,000 deal today.”

While the subjective nature of the work of creative professionals is a critical factor in getting a job, there are always going to be some interviewers in a job search who are all about the bottom line.

“Who is a company going to hire? Someone with the best portfolio, or someone with a good portfolio who also has business sense?” says career expert Wendy Angel. “In an ideal world, creativity and pure job-related skills would matter more, but the reality is that it’s a business world and a down economy. Justifying your job function is essential.”

In summation

How can you go from being a Mac geek to a math geek on your resume?

Including the number of projects completed — over your career and on a yearly basis — how many articles, pages, designs or logos you’ve had published and their size, the size of the audience reached by your work, any increase in the number of consumers of your products or clients for your work, and even the size of the teams you work with can help a fact-oriented hiring manager see your worth, says Terri Deems, management and career consultant with WorkLife Design and co-author of “Make Job Loss Work for You!” (Jist Publishing, $12.95).

“Graphic artists can list on their resumes how their designs helped the success of ad campaigns or helped increase Web site traffic and other such items,” Angel says. “Creative people can also list accomplishments related to their work such as streamlining processes or vendors to save the company money or time. It may take some leg work to find those statistics from other departments, but that kind of extra effort goes a long way when a non-creative person is doing the hiring.”

Then what?

The bottom line, be it a sales increase, an increase in traffic to a Web site or a sold-out venue, is not about the work put out — it’s about what transpired because of that work.

“It’s really not so much about using numbers as it is being able to talk about the specific results of one’s work. What was really accomplished?” Deems says.

Terri’s father, Richard Deems, is the co-author of their book. He suggests focusing on client reactions as a way to show results of your creative endeavors.

“If you designed a new promo brochure for a client, ask the client, so what?” he says. “Ask the client what happened: Did sales increase? Usage increase? Responses increase over past promo brochures? When asked, clients are usually more than glad to share with you what happened because of your creative work.”

Make sure to keep track when a client sends a thank-you for your work. Being able to show hiring managers that your work was appreciated shows positive results from your work.

Talk the talk

When interviewing with a company’s creative director, talking about your proficiency with programs or your style influences is appropriate. But always keep in mind when you’re interviewing with a project manager or vice president of marketing that they may not be as interested in your “vision.”

“Chances are good the department VP may have more of a business interest and want to know what you can contribute to reduce costs, reduce time, or increase readership, and so forth,” Terri Deems says. “The interview basic holds true for any type of interview: Learn what you can about the person or people with whom you are meeting, anticipate their questions/concerns, and practice your responses.”