How to step up to seniority

You may have a way to go before you’re an intermediate or senior art director/designer, but it’s never too early to be thinking about advancing 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. She also provides her tips for interns and juniors hoping to accelerate their careers within a studio. Take a look at the video below, and then read up on 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.

Be a sponge


While a mentor, like your boss, might be able to give you insight into seniority, the one thing no one can stop you from doing is building on your industry knowledge. At the beginning of your design career, the best thing that you can be is 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 you one day 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 that to what you want to become. What do you see in your mentor that you want to strive to become? As well, what are things that you think could be improved on? Learning what works doesn’t mean giving up ideas that make you unique. See what the difference is between a boss and a leader here.

Put in more than just 9 to 5

Sure the average workday is 8 hours, with 40 hours in a week. With that amount of effort you’ll probably stay stagnant and grow surly. But if you ask any designer or art director how they made it to that position of seniority on a 40-hour/week schedule, they would laugh. 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 passion for the job, commitment to deadlines, and especially attention to detail. Furthermore, make sure to be productive in that time. Staying late doesn’t mean dedication if you’re just sitting there, twiddling your thumbs. Trust me, people will notice and your extra time will not be in vain.

Shine at what you do

People are shocked at how many others think that the best way to a promotion is to start doing the job they want, rather than the job they have. That means if your boss can accuse you of not fulfilling your current job description, then 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 senior, you 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 for you to pop the champagne every time a project is signed off on, or telling your mom how great a job you did. It means taking satisfaction in your achievements and ensuring your manager 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.



The old adage is true, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know.’ Being good at what you do is great. However, like it or not, in the real world people tend to hire and promote people they know and trust. So you need to start networking with people around your organization.

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.

Present yourself professionally

If you apply for a position of seniority within your company, people you know well, and even some you consider friends will probably interview you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the interview as if it were a different agency. Your interviewers will be treating it seriously, so make sure you do to. Follow these tips for job interview success here.


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 currently title, but instead acting the part of the position you want to be. 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. After all, one of my previous titles was Executive Deputy Manager for Branded Multi-Platform Business Innovation.’

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