Remaining competitive in today’s creative market

Published:  June 23, 2011
Remaining competitive in today’s creative market

I received a call the other day from someone who’d recently been made redundant from a role he’d held for 12 years. The fact that he’d been let go was bad enough, but, as we discussed options, it became clear that the more comfortable he’d become in his role, the more out of touch with his industry he’d allowed himself to become. In discussing his skill set, he mentioned being at an expert level in the program his company was using for its print work: QuarkXPress – a program that’s been rapidly fading from sight through the past four versions of Adobe InDesign. And now that he’s unexpectedly back on the market, he’s first having to play catch-up before he can even try to apply for a new job. It’s an unfortunate situation because he’s a talented designer with 12-plus years of industry experience and he is now functionally obsolete to today’s hiring manager.

This is a scary scenario and one that could happen to anyone. So how do you go about preventing it? First, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how well-aligned you are with your company, no matter how long you’ve been employed there, you owe it to the company and, most of all, to yourself to remain valuable to the industry.

Keeping up with what’s going on out there serves a few purposes. First, it shows your employer that you have an interest in keeping it current and in some cases, competitive. You keep the company up-to date and, when the time comes for it to upgrade, you’ll be ahead of the curve and able to ease the transition for the rest of the team. This, in turn, shows initiative and big picture thinking and, if nothing else, paints you in a positive light with your employer (think of the possibilities). For you as an individual, staying in tune with the most up-to-date trends, programs and industry goings-on acts not only as ‘preventative maintenance’, as was needed in the initial example, but allows you to grow as an individual in your existing position.

Whether you are a designer, developer, project manager or marketing professional, there are industry groups, classes and events available to you for professional development. The InDesign User Group, Design Victoria (Melbourne) and AGDA all offer meetings, courses and workshops for the benefit of those in the creative industry. is a great place to find small local groups who gather to discuss specific topics such as Flash programming, project management or online marketing. And don’t be afraid to tap into your local university.

It seems that changes in the creative world are happening faster and faster all the time. It’s important to be mindful of that and every so often take a step back to ask yourself where your skill set is in comparison to where the market is headed. Are you ready?

Thumbnail image available here.

From desktop magazine.

One Response

  1. Sue

    Agh, I came out of my time as a typesetter in 1990, having worked on those big enormous computers with font filmstrips you needed to change by hand on big drums. The typesetting output needed to be fed through a processor afterwards and pasted up by hand. Fun times.

    Unfortunately the end of my apprenticeship coincided with the beginning of desktop publishing and for whatever reason, I never managed to make the transition over, and after working in the typesetting field for a few years moved over to more administrative and secretarial roles and never managed to utilise my talents in a DTP field.

    I’m hoping to rectify that somewhat in my 40′s but sheesh, it really pisses me off, to be honest with you, at how beholden we are to technological processes that are totally out of our hands. It all moves so fast these days.

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