Marketing CreativesThe most challenging job for creatives? Marketing yourself.

The same talented people who churn out impressive digital and design projects for college teams sometimes stumble when it comes to marketing their personal brand.

One of our core services at SkullSparks is assisting college teams in hiring digital and design positions. In our experience matching talent to jobs, we’ve learned a few things from the hiring perspective.

You may not be looking for a job (if you are, let us know). But opportunity knocks at different times. This is college athletics. People move around. People move around a lot.

As we head into prime hiring season, here are three areas to better market yourself online:

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It may be your favorite social platform. It may not. Regardless, it’s one of the first places new talent is discovered. Use your Twitter profile to promote yourself 24/7.

★  Use your real first and last name
★  Clearly indicate your title or area of expertise
★  Link to your online portfolio, resume

Brandon Spahn on Twitter

If someone comes across one of your tweets or looks up your profile on the platform, they can quickly and easily continue to learn more about you.

One creative way to show more of your work is to pin a Moment to the top of your profile. Then, you can control the content featured at any time by editing the Moment.

Matt Tornquist on Twitter

It’s not necessary to be incredibly active on Twitter. It’s also not necessary to constantly plug your work. We find that creatives who share their work and explain process come across as helpful and knowledgeable rather than boastful.

At SkullSparks, we use Twitter regularly to survey the field and discover new talent.

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Hiring creative talent is not the same as hiring SIDs or marketing staff. Digital content and design work are tangible. Hiring personnel can see your work, interact with it and compare it directly to others in the industry.

For graphic designers, a Behance portfolio is standard. For video talent, Vimeo tends to be the platform of choice. A personal site with your own URL, if you’re so inclined, is also an option.

★  Create an online portfolio (Behance, Vimeo or personal site)
★  Put your best, most recent work first
★  Group examples into related categories
★  Clearly differentiate between work and personal projects
★  Link to your Twitter profile, online resume
★  Provide contact info

Spencer LaHaye on Behance

It’s one thing to show examples of your work. It’s another level to share the thought process behind your work. Explain how you creatively solved challenges.

Daniel Saline on Behance

The point is to help hiring personnel understand you see the big picture. In the end, the purpose of visual design is to compel stakeholders to act (recruits to sign, fans to join, donors to support).

Philip Allman on Behance

Providing context helps viewers understand the internal and external factors involved in the design process. In the real world, you rarely design exactly what you want. More often, parameters must be followed and higher-ups must be satisfied. There’s a big picture.

Providing context more clearly conveys the intent of your design work. Hiring personnel working in college athletics will understand if you were limited or steered by internal department priorities. They’ll appreciate if you were able to deliver creativity on demand.

Joe Cooper on Behance

Also, be sure to clearly indicate if a work example is 100% your creation or a shared project. If it is shared, illuminate what part of the design was your contribution.

Andrew Kulihin on Behance

If you include personal work in your portfolio, clearly indicate it as such. This is absolutely critical for designers with freelance experience. Creativity on demand is much different than creativity when you feel like it on your own time.

For viewers, there’s no indication if a project took a month to tweak or if it was turned around in a short amount of time more similar to a college athletics department environment.

If you create a personal site, put your work front and center. That’s the primary reason people visit after all. Don’t get too caught up in sharing your life story. Your work is what they came for. Show hiring personnel how you can creatively solve challenges for their team.

Cody James Personal Site

Update your portfolio when appropriate. Keep your most recent projects at the top. Please remember to link to your portfolio from your Twitter profile and online resume.

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Take your career and your work seriously. Professionals are found on Linkedin. It’s fine to have a personal resume (and provide a PDF link) but think about this from a team’s perspective. Hiring personnel must wade through stacks and screen after screen of resumes and portfolios.

Let’s be honest, creatives at times can get a little too creative in an effort to stand out. Linkedin helps standardize the basics like current position, experience and education.

★  Create a Linkedin profile
★  Keep it updated
★  Add responsibilities to your positions, not just job titles
★  Link to your Twitter profile, online portfolio
★  Provide personal contact info (email, phone)

Adding detailed responsibilities to your positions helps hiring personnel better understand your experience and skills. Current digital and design job titles can be confusing. If you’ve done it, let them know. Don’t leave them to guess.

Blake Beamer on Linkedin

Don’t forget to add contact info on Linkedin. The site’s recent redesign makes this information easier to find. Hiring personnel will more likely keep interaction under the radar and contact you via a private email or phone number.

JT Cattelan

We mentioned previously that people move around in college athletics. It makes college athletics a very small world. Everyone it seems has worked with everyone else. Word gets around. Treat people the right way and do things the right way. Hiring personnel will certainly do their homework.

To summarize, do these three things and link them to each other. Do these well and put yourself in the best position to take the next step in your career. Who knows? It could be just around the corner.

★  Twitter profile
★  Online portfolio
★  Online resume

Finally, thank you to these college athletics digital and design creatives provided as examples:

Brandon Spahn – Indiana
Matt Tornquist – Purdue
Spencer LaHaye – K-State Football
Daniel Saline – Boise State Football
Philip Allman – Washington
Joe Cooper – Colorado State
Andrew Kulihin – Rutgers
Cody James – Pitt
Blake Beamer – Texas
JT Cattelan – Utah Football

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Thanks to the athletics staff working hard behind the scenes to connect fans with the teams they love.

Jason R. Matheson