Even after more than a millennium, Socrates' dictum "know thyself" is still good advice, particularly for those of us working in the creative industry. Self-awareness is key to delivering the best results and collaborating effectively with others, whether you're a marketing leader, creative director, copywriter, or designer.
One important aspect of self-awareness is understanding your preferred creativity style. Arne Dietrich offers a helpful framework synthesizing four key dynamics: reason vs. emotion and deliberate vs. spontaneous energy. He breaks it down like this:
If your creativity style is deliberate and cognitive, you're all about trial and error, learning, and trying again. You prefer to have enough time for research and learning, as exemplified by Thomas Edison.
If your creativity style is more deliberate and emotion-driven, your creative production often results in "A-ha" moments. You enjoy pondering questions and considering possibilities before making decisions.
If spontaneity and focused thinking describe your creative approach, solutions tend to come while you engage in unrelated activities like swimming, playing video games, or whatever diversions you enjoy. You prefer a framework that allows you to ideate, take a break, and return to the task. Sir Isaac Newton and his falling apple come to mind.
Lastly, if your creativity is shaped more by spontaneity and emotion, you thrive on diverse ideas and skill sets. You like to explore and apply different possibilities in new and unexpected ways. Artists and musicians often embody this type of creativity.
While no paradigm or typology is perfect, understanding your personal creative style preference can help you better understand yourself and collaborate more effectively with others. It'll be a little bit easier to relate to other teammates and for them to relate to you.
By knowing your strengths and preferences, you can optimize your creative output and contribute to your team's success. "Know thyself."
Alignment is a key aspect when considering a job opportunity with a creative agency. Use these 3 baselines to check a potential position’s alignment with your expectations and goals.
Check alignment between the written job description and your expectations.
Does this really need to be said? I think so. Life is busy and often seems to move at the speed of a microprocessor chip.
So, make sure you've read the written job description carefully. There are different kinds of reading strategies for different types of tactics or situations. Don't just scan the job description. Read it slowly and thoughtfully. Make sure you understand everything on it. Be sure to mark what you don't understand or is unclear so you can remind yourself to ask about it in the HR interview.
Next, check the alignment between HR's written job description and the expectations of your prospective manager.
I was once offered a position by a global creative agency as copy supervisor. It wasn't until I was in the post that I realized the degree of difference between HR's job description used throughout the interview process and the manager's actual view of the position. There was a clear disconnect between HR and creative leadership in this instance. Not fun.
Be sure to check HR's job description against your prospective manager's view of the job description. Confirm they are aligned. Don't assume. Be proactive. Ask question and follow-up clarification questions to be sure what the HR recruiter is saying agrees with the actual manager or supervisor’s expectations.
Finally, check the alignment between the written job description and your manager's view of the genuine job breakdown.
This is often overlooked but is so important. If the job description states that you will be responsible for research, creative concepting, pulling through other's words, writing, editing, fact-checking, annotating, and submission prep. Ask for a rough percent breakdown of the time you will be expected to spend on each of these areas or tasks.
Although the job description may say copywriter or senior copywriter, there is a vast difference between a copywriting position that is 80% concepting and writing versus one that is 80% pulling through messaging and making editing tweaks on a route. Same job title but vastly different jobs on a day-to-day basis. Check the alignment and be sure this is the job you want.
Whether in business, your relationships, or even your body, alignment is key. It contributes to healthy and sustainable work relationships and promotes easier flow, fluidity, productivity, and joy in the process.
It seems like it may be a good fit. You've passed the LinkedIn page, resume review and initial HR interview. You made it to the next round. The next step is to interview your prospective manager and other team members.
When you meet with your prospective manager, instead of asking theoretical questions, ask behavioral ones. For instance,
Don't ask, "Is there room and opportunity to move ahead?" Instead, ask, "When was the last time you were promoted?"
Don't ask, "How much PTO is there?" Instead, ask, "How much PTO time have you taken this year?"
Don't ask, "How are conflicts among team members handled?" Instead, ask, "Tell me about a time you had to resolve a conflict with a team member and how you successfully managed and resolved it?"
Don't ask, "How are mistakes handled?" Instead, ask, "What was your response the last time something seriously went wrong?"
Don't ask, "How important does the agency take mentoring?" Instead, ask, "Tell me about a recent time you received mentoring you valued?" Then, follow up with, "Tell me about your most satisfying experience mentoring others. What made it so?"
As a copywriter, you will no doubt have questions about the creative process and types of writing projects you will be doing.
But no matter how exciting and marvelous the answers to these questions may be, all your creative and writing activities take place in the context of your relationship with your manager.
In the search process, it's a two-way street.
The prospective manager will interview you for team fit. So be sure you do the same.
Ask behavioral questions to assess how well they fit your expectations and align with your values before you accept an offer.