There's a reason why transitioning from agency life to an in-house creative services group is so appealing: work-life balance! But what do you do when the career path that follows isn't so clear and going back to an agency is only a last resort? This is a major challenge for in-house creatives – and especially in-house creative leaders. Consider the following ideas to help you revamp your career and move in the right direction for you.
1. Make your move to an in-house group.
You can find more opportunities in an in-house group for advancement, so when you decide the time is right to leave an agency, explore your options. Your timing may be right for the next big opportunity. Sometimes, though, you’ll find that there aren't an abundance of these in-house agencies out there, and open leadership roles within these organizations are even more scarce. If that’s the case, consider pivoting and network.
2. Network. Network. Network.
The importance of networking comes into play when a good in-house option isn’t immediately available or what you’d like to pursue. (Building up your network is key whether you're looking for a change or not.) You've made many connections throughout your career, and whether they are new or old, near or far, your professional network is a group that represents an exponentially larger network with knowledge, expertise, and, perhaps, awareness of future career opportunities that could be just right for you. As you connect with your network, foster the relationships, express interest in the person you’re engaging with, and be open about what you’re looking for professionally.
3. Join the (Marketing) team.
Transitioning into your organization's own Marketing department is also a discernible step. You already have your organization's institutional knowledge and know how to maneuver through the internal channels and interdepartmental processes. This is natural migration for in-house creative leaders who have the required knowledge and skill sets and can add immeasurable value and perspective to the work of the team. Also a plus: You’ve already cultivated strong relationships with key stakeholders in your organization. Taking the next step to join in the work of the team can be a smooth transition.
4. The write role.
Strong writers should consider corporate communications as another viable professional avenue. If you can capture the voice of an enterprise and drive messaging – the bedrock of every Marketing strategy – then a corporate communications role might be exactly right for you. Many of the same reasons noted above about being a Marketing leader apply to this option as well. A fervent passion for writing and a gift for language are critical for success.
You're already a subject matter expert. You have a network of peers for thought leadership discussions. You exude an obvious passion for the industry. It may be time to become a consultant. Consulting provides tremendous exposure to groups in our specialized industry and greater insight to varying operating models and infrastructures. If you venture into consulting, there won’t be one specific formula that equals success. Your industry knowledge and niche experience can be invaluable to new start-ups, in-house groups facing the challenges of rapid growth, and well-established organizations who need validation or short-term support in specific areas. You never know where a future opportunity lies.
Reality check: Independent consulting is rewarding but has its challenges, too, including business development, inconsistent income stream, and, potentially, business travel. Level set what is important to you, identify your must-haves, and consider the various topics and tiers of service you are prepared to provide to your potential clients.
6. Chart your own course.
Our specialized industry is rather small; however, it is always growing, changing, and developing new niche services that require in-demand, specialized skills. There are organizations out there that are in the midst of developing in-house digital, creative and marketing groups. Through your knowledge of industry functions, networking, and fine-tuning your approach to providing marketing, writing, or consulting skills, you never know when the right connections will align the right people with the right opportunities.
Be open to what’s new and be ready to pivot, grow, learn and adapt. Isn’t that a key part of what being in this industry is all about? Your opportunity is out there!
Are you ready to make your next big career move? We are looking for industry professionals who bring the most in-demand skills for our clients that include notable companies and the most recognizable brands. Check out our Job Opportunities page.