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Ask Lawrence: Hands Up If You're Busy Right Now!

08 Jul 00:00 By Lawrence Akers

So Busy Right Now

If you ask anyone in the creative industry right now, they’ll tell you that it is incredibly busy right now.

Our MD, Vicki-Anne, has actually said that she has never seen it be so busy, and I have to agree that in my 18 years of doing this work, this is one of the busiest periods I think I have ever experienced.

It is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time.  It’s wonderful to see the creative industry thriving and just exploding with energy; however, it is also terrifying because the reality of trying to find the ‘right people’ for any of the requirements out there has become so much harder.  This is a ‘candidate market’ right now, and the candidate has far more control than what companies advertising their opportunities might realise.

This week, it felt like a good time to quickly explore why this could be as well as offering some tips and suggestions that may help you to secure the best person for your role sooner.

So, how busy is it really right now?

I would say that for every 20-30 calls I’ve made to freelancers, 90% of them are booked out until at least August and a good 50% of them are saying that they’re still getting between 2-3 calls a day from clients and recruiters asking if they’re available and offering opportunities.

Let that sink in for a moment. It means that there is no shortage of freelance opportunities out there for people with the right skills and, more so, if a job isn’t working for them, there is nothing stopping them from saying, ‘this isn’t right for me’ and moving to one that is.

If you jump on LinkedIn at the moment, you will see post after post of people asking for freelance assistance, and even posts encouraging creatives who have wanted to freelance to consider if now is the time.

Is a strategy of posting a job request on LinkedIn necessarily going to work though? Sadly not.  There are so many opportunities out there that good people are not sitting around looking at LinkedIn or Seek.  They’re already working right now.  Based on the job briefs I’m seeing lately, the ‘right person’ is unlikely to be one to respond to job ads right now and it needs a dedicated search.

You’re probably wondering why it is so busy at the moment and there could be a few reasons for this.  With the borders closed, we have less international creative talent available to studios who may have turned to them in the past.  It means that their resource pool of freelance creatives needs to be local, unless they’re prepared to engage more remote workers.  

There has also been less requirements for traditional print and an increase in digital skill sets and many creatives have, despite being warned for years that this is coming, not got their skills up to scratch.  We were so reliant on the digital space last year that Digital Designers, UX/UI and eCommerce have simply exploded in 2021.

With the uncertainty that the past 18 months has provided, it has also meant that many people are quite happy to stay in their jobs for now.  In fact, we have probably seen a decrease in bullying and workplace culture issues because working remotely has separated the problem from the workplace and so many people are feeling ok with where they’re at.

This has also meant that we’ve seen workplace flexibility shoot up in terms of importance for people in choosing where to work.  I have seen people turn down opportunities because of an onsite requirement, and while I personally believe that there has to be a happy medium, I suspect that this flexibility is something that is going to stay long after we see the back of the pandemic.

It's also worth noting that Juniors have not had the opportunity to develop over the past 18 months. There has been a decrease in entry level roles as many of them require more hands on experience in order to mentor and supervise. As a result of that, we're going to experience a
greater divide between Junior and Midweights happening given that graduates are not getting the opportunity to develop their skills on the job as much as they could've pre-pandemic.

An interesting flipside of this is that I have seen
some companies where the bulk of their staff are open to opportunities because of a lack of support, poor structure, and unreasonable requirements.  I spoke with one client who said that they go through UI people every few months because they come in, find that the systems and networks are so poorly set up, and move on to the next opportunity.  I’ve spoken to another company who won a new client recently but who are so poorly understaffed and have a complete lack of structure that everyone there just wants out.  This is a make or break period for some businesses and if they’re not prepared to make the place a great one to work, they should expect their employers to look for better opportunities.

This brings me to my point for any businesses out there looking for staff; if you can’t bullet point a handful of reasons why someone would want to come and work for you, then you’re unlikely to have that seat filled.  Additionally, if you’re not paying industry standard rates or salaries, then why should someone leave an ok job to come to yours for less pay and no incentive?  This is not a job short market so we need to stop acting like it is.  As a side note, if you are interested in our last salary survey report, you can download that here.

If you’re after freelance talent, you need to consider that perhaps you’re not going to get 100% of the brief that you’re chasing.  You’ll have to weigh up if it is going to be more of an inconvenience to have the seat empty or to have someone in it who may need a little more hand holding.  I know that while we are doing everything we can to find the absolute best person available for each requirement right now, the more restrictions you place on the brief, the harder it is to guarantee that there will be the right person for you.  Consider if people can work remotely, part time, and how their resource might be useful to your studio if it isn’t an exact match.

Now, of course I don’t share this to scare people.  There is no benefit in sugar coating what is happening out there and knowledge is power.  Knowing what you’re up against means that you can use this knowledge to get the best fit for your studio available right now as well as offer an appealing proposition if you’re after someone more permanently.  Of course, if we can be of assistance in any way, then know you can reach out and say hello.