Pip Jamieson on landing a job: “Don’t burn any bridges – it’s a small industry”

Pip Jamieson, founder at creative job site The Dots, tells us at Offset Sheffield how designers and their creative portfolios can make an impact.

© Adrienne Pitts

Many people use LinkedIn for networking and headhunting, while recruiters such as Reed and Indeed are go-to’s for corporate jobs. But for the creative industries, sector-specific alternatives are useful for opportunities in the industry.

Entrepreneur Pip Jamieson set up creative job site The Dots in 2014, providing an alternative to the more corporate LinkedIn, and allowing students, graduates and experienced creatives to share their portfolio work and promote themselves online to companies.

The Dots was originally based in Australia, but has since moved to London, and is growing with 100,000 members and 4,000 companies using the site in the UK – while the site is currently “London-centric”, Jamieson admits, the company is hoping to expand and cater to other regions in the future.

Sitting alongside sites like Design Week Jobs, The Dots provides a concentrated, creative hub for job-hunting, and allows users to customise and display their project work with a Behance-style portfolio.

“I wanted to create a platform that made it really easy for people in the creative industries to promote themselves online,” Jamieson says, speaking at Offset Sheffield. “There was nothing especially designed to connect talent to real world opportunities.”

Jamieson has seen both new and experienced designers use her site and present their work online with variable success – “The split of members is a third each of younger, mid-age and older designers,” she says – so is in a good position to offer advice on what attracts employers to a candidate.

Her top tips include:

Less is more

Having three great pieces of work up online is better than having nine mediocre ones, says Jamieson. “The average quality of your work will be brought down by the worst piece in there,” she says.

Show your creative process

If you’re only focusing on a few, great projects, then don’t just show the finished work, show your drafts, scribbles and how you got there. “Show your creative process, and talk about the stories behind the work,” Jamieson says.

Make it personal

Self-initiated projects which aren’t related to a particular client brief, and instead show personal enthusiasm, “will make someone stick in the memory of people employing you”, Jamieson says.

One example is a self-initiated project called Crack + Cider, founded by graduates Scarlett Montanaro and Charlotte Cramer, who were inspired to create a start-up distributing essential items to homeless people in London and San Francisco, based on their own personal experiences with homeless people on the streets of London. “The project went viral and they had job offers all across the board,” Jamieson says.

Smile and be nice to people

“There will be total dickheads you don’t want to hang out with,” says Jamieson. “But work hard and be nice to people. Don’t burn any bridges – it’s such a small industry. If you want to get a job, then smile.”

Network and get involved

Going to workshops and events and meeting people in person can boost your chances of landing a job, says Jamieson. The Dots runs creative workshops every month on different disciplines such as graphics and digital design, with clients such as Airbnb and Google, and at studios such as Wolff Olins and Pentagram. “Jonathan Barnbrook hired three people after a session, and Kate Moross hired somebody on the night,” Jamieson says. “Google hired seven designers.”

Keep up with digital

According to her experience, Jamieson says that the design industry is “desperate” for UX and digital designers, offering generous day rates of £500-£1,500 a day for freelancers. “The biggest shortage of talent in creativity is digital designers,” she says. “If you can skill up in UI and UX design, you’ll be dead set.”

Have confidence in your profession

The advancement of artificial intelligence and algorithms is causing certain industries to become entirely automated, as we start to see even basic, practical skills like driving replaced with driverless cars – but it is not easy for a machine to replicate the empathy and lateral thinking that comes alongside creativity, says Jamieson. “The hardest thing to automate is creativity,” she says. “The value of the industry is growing and growing.”

Offset Sheffield took place at the Crucible Theatre, 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield S1 1DA on 21-22 October. The conference also has branches in Dublin and London, and provides talks from designers, illustrators and entrepreneurs in the creative industries.

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