As founder and CEO of Creative Niche—a Toronto-based executive search, recruitment and staffing firm focused on the creative industry—I’ve seen a major evolution in employer must-haves. 

It used to be that agencies or the creative departments of multinational corporations were interested in creative professionals who were just that: individuals with specialized creative skills who could deliver   work on-time and on-budget. While that’s still the case, their high-level needs have changed. 

Now, employers want multi-disciplined thinkers committed to learning and keeping on top of business trends and emerging technology. You could argue that finding creative professionals with those attributes was always on their recruitment checklist, but the difference now is those characteristics have jumped to the top of the list. When we get recruitment requests from an employer, they want to know the people they’re hiring will bring the kind of fresh ideas that can drive a business forward. 

“I’m not simply referring to staying on top of updates to the Adobe Creative Suite.”

There are a couple of key reasons for that shift in priorities. First, fast-changing technology is such an integral part of the workplace for any creative professional, that the ability to stay a step ahead has become critical to an organization’s success. I’m not simply referring to staying on top of updates to the Adobe Creative Suite. I’m thinking of fundamental shifts in the creative landscape, such as the introduction of entirely new methods of analyzing and visually interpreting data—the penetration of big data is just one recent example. 

Second, the creative industry has gone global. While an ad agency in Toronto would have once tapped the expertise of creative directors only in the GTA, for example, it can now source talent anywhere in the world. That’s upped the ante for firms competing to produce the best work, forcing them to become globalized in their approach—all while increasing competition among creative leaders in their own backyards. 

Of course, there’s one other attribute employers want to see: the ability to think and act like CEOs. That means understanding the business goals of their organization and producing creative work that delivers strong bottom-line results. 

In an era when marketing budgets continue to tighten, a little understanding of the bottom-line can go a long way in turning a good creative professional into an invaluable one in the eyes of an employer.

Mandy Gilbert,
CEO, Creative Niche