Understanding the 2022 job market, a shift is coming
The job market continues to evolve from a war for talent where people were getting multiple offers to rampant layoffs and tons of frustration. I think all of this is going to add up to a big change and it is something I haven’t seen in a while, which will create both opportunities and challenges for all of us. In this episode, we will talk about what is going on in the creative industry in 2022 that is driving so much change in companies and the job market, the big shift that I think is coming in the next few years, and how all of this has set me in a new direction with my career.
You may have seen on social media that back in May, I was laid off from my last leadership position. I’ve talked a bit about this in a past episode, but it has been a strange and interesting journey that has taught me a lot. It taught me so much and changed my point of view so much that it has changed the course of my career. I think a big change is coming in the creative industry, and it is something I haven’t seen in a while, which will create both opportunities and challenges for all of us.
In this episode, we will talk about what is going on in the creative industry in 2022 that is driving so much change in companies and the job market, the big shift that I think is coming in the next few years, and how all of this has set me in a new direction with my career.
My journey so far
It’s been over 5 months since the initial announcement that I was laid off. Over that time, I’ve applied to 150+ positions, had initial interviews with 70+ companies, in-depth interviews with 30+ companies, was ghosted by 20+ companies, and gotten 3 offers (all of which I declined for various reasons).
After making such a huge splash with my initial announcement, I have to be honest that I never thought I would be here 5 months later and not be a part of a new in-house team.
These past few months have been humbling, but they taught me a few things. First, is it clear that the industry is in a place where my experience, leadership style, personal values, or the monetary value I place on those skills are not aligned with what in-house teams are looking for. But when I take a step back and look at the last few months, I can see that out of all those conversations, I found almost nothing that got me excited about the company’s culture, leadership, how they value design, and/or the product direction.
I would go through these conversations and think to myself that I’ve seen this movie before. I know how this ended and it just wasn’t something that I found myself getting excited about, except for maybe 3 or 4 roles. I spent a long time trying to figure out if something was broken in me or if it was broken in the industry. Like many of us, I just want to make great stuff with great people. I want to work with people and a company that respects me. And it would be nice if we could have some fun along the way.
I kept asking myself why was this so hard to find and what was going on to make me feel this way?
Why am I sharing my journey?
Before we get into why I think this is happening, I’ve been asked more than a few times why I am sharing all of this.
There are also three big reasons why I think this is an important conversation.
Destroy the idea that you “make it”
• The biggest reason I am doing this is that I want to destroy this concept that you get to a point in your career when you “make it.”
• People seem to think that there is a time when you are no longer inflicted with imposter syndrome, get rejected, feel depressed, or feel like a failure.
• I can’t work anywhere I want • I have gone through phases where I felt like a complete fraud having these problems, but I host this show which I’ve talked about before
• Episode 100 still holds true that all of us, yours truly included, are all still chasing these invisible scripts and standards that tear us down.
Let you know you are not alone
• The other things that I have seen since I started to share this journey is that I have heard from thousands of people who have had the same experience
• But almost all of them said that they felt alone in their journey
• They felt alone in the shame they felt after being laid off
• They felt alone in how frustrated they are with the current state of finding a job.
Companies need a wake-up call
• From what I’ve experienced over the past five months, companies learned pretty much nothing from the great resignation.
• Employees are beyond frustrated and burned out
• Apps like Blind are a canary in a coal mine and are popular for a reason. Employees want to know what is going on behind the closed doors of a company
• Just look at two of my LinkedIn posts where I announced I had been laid off, and then the most recent one announcing the next step in my career and why I made that decision. Just those two posts got over 1.2 million impressions and 1k+ comments plus hundreds more private messages.
• I am not that smart or that popular. It got those reactions because there is a lot going on just under the surface with people right now.
State of the union
Enough with the setup. Let’s get to what I think is really going on right now.
I think the headline for this job market is we are in the era of Defensive employment – Tinglin
Let’s look at what has laid the foundation for what is going on.
Why has this happened?
• Some are driven by over and bad hiring that happened during the pandemic. Companies have been struggling with these problems, and the threat of a recession gave them the excuse they needed to get rid of these people.
• Some of it is being driven by the fact that in the recent rush for talent, companies overpaid for talent. Just like with the car and housing markets, all that overspending screwed up the markets, and there had to be a normalization that comes in the form of layoffs.
• Some have been driven by the contracting credit markets where companies were betting on cheap money and easy credit to keep growing
• The effect has been that talent is now flooding into the market and marking the few roles that are available flooded with applications, and it lets employers drive the price down on those roles because of the competition.
Remote vs. hybrid vs. in the office
• Power struggle between remote, hybrid, and in the office
• This is going to take a few years to play out
• A recent study showed that as many as 70% of people would actually take a pay cut to have work-life balance or the ability to live where they want.
• I am seeing some companies that are moving to allow directors a higher to work remotely while more junior people are being asked to return to the office as they feel that they need more structure.
• Fully remote doesn’t work. At the very least, you have to find deliberate moments to get the team together as in-person bonding and relationship-building is critical
Companies learned nothing from the great resignation
• I have been vocal about how broken the hiring process has been for a long time, but after the great resignation, it is honestly shocking that companies learned nothing from it.
• We are all sick and tired of being sick and tired
• The overwhelming lack of response to applications, ghosting people during the interview process, lack of feedback, and overblown job descriptions all have people fed up with the process
• Companies seem to forget that when you have a great interview experience, you tell one person, but when you have a bad experience, you tell 20
Contraction of design
• It is not a new cycle that every time there is a downturn in the economy that design is often one of the first teams affected.
• We also should have known this would happen because, over the past few years, we have leaned into design too heavily. They didn’t understand how to make it successful and as a result, not very many teams have been able to see the benefits of design in their bottom line
• Companies are looking for unicorns again
Existing models aren’t working well
• In-house is frustrated and rarely getting results
• Agencies still don’t get it and just want AOR work
• Consultancies showed promise but don’t seem to be delivering.
• In my entire career, I have never seen so many great talents unemployed
• I have seen the hiring process so broken and inhumane
• I have never seen so many leaders and creatives so frustrated. Sick of where they are, leaving for nothing, or knowing exactly how many days are left until they don’t have to pay that signing bonus back.
• As one friend said, we learned the business, but the business didn’t learn design
Crisis of trust
I was recently asked by a really good friend if I thought that trust can exist between a company and their workers. I thought for a minute and gave a simple one-word answer – NO. I have studied and done past episodes about why trust is so important to our work and how it is the center and foundation of creativity. Thus when it doesn’t exist a crisis ensues.
This goes back to why I think we are in the era of Defensive employment
• Gig economy now applies everywhere
• People know they are free agents
I said that because I think that you either know that stability and career safety don’t ever really exist working for a company, or you work long enough to learn that fact the hard way.
I strongly believe that trust can exist between people and the team inside a company, but a company will always do whatever it needs to protect itself.
Those actions can and will disregard any and all of the people inside of that company. Too many of us have to know seen that to be true.
This is easily the weirdest analogy I have ever used on this show, but I see companies like strip clubs or amusement parks. These are places that manufacture a sense of belonging and connection but that is only done to get your time and money.
These are challenging times for sure, but this isn’t all bad news. Moments like this are bound to create a shift. The status quo can not hold when these many forces are at play.
A few times I’ve felt these changes coming
• When I left the agency world to go in-house a few years before that trend started to become apparent.
• Years before the pandemic and great resignation that teams needed to invest in emotional and cultural innovation or they risked losing their best talent
True radical transparency
• Apps like Blind
• Sharing salaries
The rise of the design founder
• they have been in-house and now understand design more
Creativity shifting away from in-house
• In-house teams are forgotten how to be creative
• In-house teams used to be the place where creativity happens, and suddenly it feels like they don’t get it
• Are valuing compliance over creativity
• There are absolutely still great in-house teams but they are very few and far between.
The rise of new agency models
• A lot of agencies have been bought and brought in-house
• Droga 5, Adaptive Path, and so many more. I know one network alone has bought 31 agencies in just the past few years.
• This has created a lot of space in the small to mid-sized agency and consultancy space
• But these aren’t going to have the traditional ways of working – small groups and individual freelancers banding together into loose networks that let them work on their own and in groups.
This isn’t the first time I have decided to bet my career on a major shift. So let’s do it again…
Today I am happy to announce that I have decided not to go back to an in-house role and have instead launched my own independent studio called CRZY.
CRZY has been designed to be an independent strategy, design, and inspiration studio, helping companies find a new vision and purpose for their brands, digital experiences, creativity, and existence.
OUR SERVICES ARE:
• Business, product, and organization strategy
• Digital, advertising, and brand design
• Education, coaching, and inspiration
SO WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT?
I wanted a company that focuses on creativity, partnership, honesty, community, and working with the greatest creative minds I know from all over the world. That comes to life through…
• We use a holistic approach to drive your long-term vision and near-term business impact by combining strategy, design, and people development.
• We bring real experience and hands-on skills from working for the world’s biggest brands and with the most innovative companies.
• We custom-build remote teams, processes, and engagements for your needs.
• We will be your partner and honest with you even when we have to discuss hard truths.
• We give back to the design community through our podcast, female and minority founder mentoring, and free weekly mentoring
You can learn more about the studio at CRZYdesign.com
If you haven’t, go back and listen to episodes 120 and 122 on how to short-circuit the job application process, and how to decide if it is time to quit your job.
I created them to try and help with what so many of us are going through.
Remember I also do three free mentoring sessions each week on ADP List
They usually book u very quickly but new times are added every Monday.
And remember that if you want ongoing coaching I offer career and leadership coaching for people at every stage of your career.
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