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4 skills creatives absolutely need to go far in their career

These abilities are guaranteed to move you to the top of the resume pile.

4 skills creatives absolutely need to go far in their career

In today’s digital world, where everyone and their mom is “an artist,” millennials in creative fields need more than expertise in their craft to find career success. It’s going to take hard skills in marketing, communications and technology to secure work—and believe it or not, some of these skills are right under your nose.

The key is reframing your creative skill set in a professional perspective, says Laura Zabel executive director of Springboard for the Arts, a Minnesota-based economic development organization for artists and by artists.

“An actor making a new work of theater has to have excellent collaboration and feedback skills on a team,” says Zabel. “A musician working on recording and releasing a new song has to have good project management skills. A visual artist putting together a gallery exhibition has to develop marketing and promotion skills.” Catch the drift?

To make it in the real world as a creative, you need to not only market yourself, but also pick up the right hard skills that’ll actually make a difference in your career. Wondering what those are? Let’s get started.

Understand SEO and use it to your advantage

Think about the last time you Googled something. Maybe that’s even how you found this article. Organic search is responsible for 64% of search traffic (that’s a lot of clicks) meaning search engine optimization, or SEO, has become an essential skill for creatives. Millennials, who have grown up with the Internet, have a great opportunity to add this hard skill to their portfolios to make themselves more marketable.

“There's no excuse for not having a website or a blog where people who are looking to hire an artist can find you,” says Julie Austin, owner of three websites for creatives: Indie Sponsor, Speaker Sponsor and Create for Cash.

Start by bookmarking and dedicating time every week to read some of best online SEO resources, such as Moz Blog, Google’s official blog and Search Engine Land. A little reading can go a long way.

Improve your writing skills—even if it’s not your career

You might be thinking, “If I’m an actor or designer, why do I need to develop writing skills?” No matter your profession, writing takes a lead role.

“With every step of the professional way, there's a need for clear, understandable copy—job briefs, grant applications, a portfolio bio or Twitter updates,” says Lydia Pawlowsky, lead editor of Format, an online portfolio platform for creatives based in Toronto, Canada.

Review every online instance of your writing—all of your social accounts, your portfolio, blog, resume—everything. Where are the bland spots? Think from an employer’s perspective and ask yourself, will this copy get me hired? If it doesn’t sing from the screen, it might be time for a revision.

Improving writing skills takes time, but thankfully there are a number of ways to get started. Take an online course, or better yet, a writing class from the local university where you can meet in person with other inspired individuals.

Develop a visual eye and learn the software

It has long been proven that people remember visuals better than text. In fact, 95% of marketers say visual content for online marketing is very important, according to a recent study by Matter Communications, a public relations agency headquartered in Massachusetts.

Does that mean you have to be a designer? No. But creative millennials should develop software skills—a basic, working understanding of Adobe InDesign and Photoshop is a good place to start—that enable them to promote their work in a compelling visual way.

“A lot of creative professions are visual-based, and being able to sketch out an idea for a photoshoot or a web design you've envisioned can be tremendously helpful,” says Pawlowsky.

Compliment your creativity with marketable digital skills

You’ve got your SEO, writing and design principle skills down. It’s time to market yourself with a personal website or blog. Start by picking up an online tutorial on content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, a California-based creative staffing agency, says adding these digital hard skills to your portfolio can give you an edge in today’s job market. “Employers also seek individuals with diverse skills that complement each other, like web designers with search engine optimization expertise,” she says.

Want to move your career forward? The time to add these hard skills to your resume is now.

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