Building a Professional Toolkit for Careers in the Arts

John Sisson of Career + Coop at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Tempestt Hazel of Chicago Artists Coalition / Chicago Artists Resource
Creative Chicago Expo 2013


About this workshop:

  • Build a professional toolkit that will help you stand out from others.
  • Develop a personal brand that represents everything you have to offer.
  • Show people what you can do rather than tell them what you can do.
  • Hiring is competitive and has changed greatly the past few years.
  • Adapt your job search techniques to current trends in hiring.
  • Start thinking like a hiring manager: what are they looking for?
  • Be prepared for what employers are expecting to see from you.



1) Linkedin Profile 

2) Online Portfolios 

3) Website/Blog

4) Resumes

5) Business Cards

6) Software Skills



200 million+ members. Manage your professional identity. Build and engage with your professional network. Access knowledge, insights and opportunities.


Using LinkedIn and Social Networking

• Start here:

• Get comfortable with LinkedIn and branch out from there. LinkedIn is the best choice because it is 100% business focused.

• Be a detective: research companies you want to work for and other professionals who have jobs similar to what you’re looking for.

• Participate in professional dialogues and build networks that lead to jobs and other opportunities.

• Connect with fellow alums, employers, and industry associations.

• People in your network can help introduce you to people they know.




Your website is your online studio and archive. Having a website is like having a phone number. You are invisible without it.

Website essentials:

• Easy to navigate.

• Have current content that is updated frequently.

• Include good keywords: text and images are equally important.


Don’t build a website from scratch or pay someone to do it for you. Template-based websites are a great solution.

• Easy, cheap, and often completely free.

• Require minimal/no understanding of coding.

• Don’t need to rely on others to build and update your site.

• Spend less time on your website and more time on your work.

Service providers for template-based websites:




Build resumes that are appropriate for 2013:

• Resumes don’t get you hired, they get you interviews.

• Resumes increasingly look like LinkedIn profiles. Objectives are out, summaries are in. A concise pitch about your expertise is ideal, 1 or 2 sentences maximum.

• Recruiters/employers may look at your resume for less than 10 seconds on first pass to look for relevant qualifications.

• 1 page maximum. A resume is a marketing tool, a tv commercial about you. It’s not an autobiography or a research report.

• Before you send out a resume, update it for the specific job you're seeking. It must be relevant to the person reading it!



Business Cards

Business cards raise your professional profile and make it easy for people to remember you. Don’t leave home without them!

Service providers for business cards:



Software Skills

Basic software skills are required. Learn them.

• Microsoft Office is ubiquitous in workplaces and employers will assume you know basic business software skills.

• Many employers will assume that you know Adobe Photoshop and page layout software such as InDesign because “you're creative”.

• Online software training is available at


Consider boosting your skills to qualify for more opportunities:

• Web Development

• Adobe Creative Suite

• Foreign Languages

• Drupal/Wordpress content management

• Microsoft Excel

• Google Analytics



Use Your Toolkit to Build Networks

Connect with your local community.

• The goal is not to spend all of your time online in the virtual world – use online tools to connect you with people and organizations that lead to real world opportunities.

• Remember, more than 80% of opportunities are never advertised! The majority of jobs and opportunities in art, design, and the creative world are found via referrals from people working in those fields.

• Chicago Artists Coalition and the Chicago Artists Resource (CAR) website are great places to build your network and find opportunities.

Series Assignment: 
Series Year: 
2 013


Recordings produced by Audio Arts + Acoustics students, Columbia College Chicago, and EARS, the Engineering And Recording Society of Chicago, for the Chicago Creative Expo 2013.
Thank you AA+A students: Adam Chismark, Ryan Greenburg, Trevor Roberts, Eric Somogyi, and Ming Yu.
Thank you EARS pro-members: James Wood Autwarter, Blaise Barton, Daniel Christmas, Danny Christy, John Christy, Rob Gillis, Reid Hyams, Danny Leake, Fran Allen-Leake, Eric Roth and Stacey Simcik.
Edited & Assembled by Ryan Greenburg (AA+A / Columbia College Chicago).
Executive Producer Reid Hyams (X-Art Entertainment) for EARS, AA+A / Columbia College Chicago & the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Thirst Designs.

Published by CAR_Andi on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 9:28am
Updated on Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:42pm
Building a Professional Toolkit for Careers in the Arts | Chicago Artists Resource


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