How to step up to seniority
Depending on whether you’re just starting out or have a few years under your belt, you may have a way to go before becoming intermediate or senior in your chosen career. However, it’s never too early to be thinking about how to advance your career to a position of seniority.
As part of a YouTube series for Computer Arts, middleweight designer Phoebe Argent from DesignStudio explains how your role within a design agency changes as you take on more responsibility. You can listen to her provide tips for interns and juniors hoping to accelerate their studio careers in the video above. If you’re looking for more help, then keep reading and learn how to step up to seniority.
Assess where you are now
Ask yourself what your current role involves and what skills earned you the position in the first place. Those skills are your core career strengths and any promotion needs to be based upon them. Think about how you can build on these skills, and how you can outgrow your current role. Therefore, you should remember that most promotions come when a candidate is too experienced for their current job and too invaluable to lose.
Gain seniority by being a sponge
While a mentor, like your boss, might be able to give you insight into seniority, the one thing you should do is building on your industry knowledge. At the beginning of your design career, you should be curious about what everyone else in the studio is doing. Design agencies tend to be a relatively non-hierarchical place — so don’t feel that you have to keep your opinions to yourself either.
If one day you want to be a senior-level creative, you should experience all aspects of the design process. Be a sponge and just soak it all up. Apply it to what you want to become. What do you see in your mentor that you want to strive to become? Also, what are things that you think could be improved upon? Learning what works doesn’t mean giving up ideas that make you unique.
If you want to be a senior, put in more than just 9 to 5
Sure the average workday is 8 hours, with roughly 40 hours a week. By only putting in that amount of effort you’ll probably stay stagnant and grow surly over time. If you ask any others in your field how they made it to that position of seniority on a 40-hour per week schedule, they would probably laugh.
Unfortunately, if you’re not willing to dedicate extra time, don’t hold your breath on a promotion anytime soon. Even an hour or two every day will show others the passion you have for the job, your commitment to deadlines — and especially attention to detail. Furthermore, make sure you stay productive during that time. Staying late doesn’t mean dedication if you’re just sitting there, twiddling your thumbs. Trust me, people will notice and that extra time spent will not be in vain.
Shine at what you do
People are shocked at how many creatives think the best way to a promotion is by starting to do the job they want, rather than the job they have. Your boss will most likely then accuse you of not fulfilling your current job description, meaning that there’s no reason to offer you a position of seniority.
Look at your job description and make sure you’re performing each and every element of it to the utmost of your ability. You shouldn’t be tempted to simply write them off parts of your job because they’re dull. With great power comes great responsibility. As you get more seniority, you’ll start to own projects more. and with that comes a slightly daunting feeling that you have to deliver mind-blowing ideas. Fear of failure is a real growth factor. Being passionate about a project means you have to put yourself on the line.
No, this doesn’t mean popping the champagne every time a project is signed off or telling your mom how great a job you did. It does, however, mean taking satisfaction in your achievements and ensuring that management is aware of them. For example, if you receive positive feedback from a client, send it on to your manager. Don’t be a bore, but do elicit a sense of pride in your work — it won’t go unnoticed. This is the one place I’m lacking in because I’m an introvert.
You can’t reach seniority without networking
The old adage is true, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know.’ Being good at what you do is great but, like it or not, in the real world people tend to hire and promote people they know and trust. Therefore, you need to start networking with people around your organization. Unfortunately, some people are terrified by the idea of networking and selling their brand, especially outside of the relative comfort of social media. But there’s really no need to be scared. Check out 21 pro networking tips from Creative Bloq for some tips.
Present yourself professionally
Chances are that if you apply for a position of seniority within your company, people you know well — maybe some you consider friends — will probably be the ones interviewing you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the interview as if it were an entirely different agency. Your interviewers will be treating it seriously, so make sure you do too.
The same applies to your portfolio also. Update it, tighten it up and bring it along in case your interviewer wants to refer to it; here are some tips for creating a great portfolio.
After all, it’s just a title
While I’ve detailed some of the various aspects for a designer to help bump them up to seniority, think of yourself as not just being your current title. Instead, act the part of the position you want to be — just remember to do the job you’re being paid to do. Soon others will start to see you that way too. Only you can decide to be the person that you want to be, whereas anyone can just make a title up.