What Are the Five Characteristics of a Good Employee for Creative Jobs?

5 Attributes and 31 Watchwords for Future-Proofed Hiring of Creatives

The contribution that creative jobs make to the United States economy is huge. In 2020, arts and culture added almost $900 billion dollars to the nation’s GDP. The creative sector encompasses more than 3% of all jobs in the United States, paying around $450 billion in wages. It’s importance to the future of our economy has been recognized in the highest offices. In 2019, the National Governors Association said that:

“The creative sector complements other industries and can boost the efficacy of state economic policies, partnerships, and plans.”

However, the creative industry is an extremely broad and competitive field. Consequently, organizations that hire creative professionals are having a harder time finding the right talent. Not only must you hire for skills relevant today, but you must also hire for the attributes that will make your new employee a key member of your team going forward.

In this article, we discuss what these attributes are, and why they are so important for a candidate to possess.

What Makes a Great Creative?

Creatives are the most important asset to any company. They are the ones that bring in innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. They can think outside of the box, while also having a good understanding of the market. They should be idea-oriented brainstormers, who can work well in a team as well as on their own. And they should be resilient, able to take feedback and implement changes without feeling offended.

The Top 5 Attributes to Look For When Hiring a Creative Professional

Creative professionals have a wide range of skills and can work in many different industries. They can be hired for a variety of jobs, including advertising, graphic design, art direction, copywriting, and more.

When looking for the right creative professional to hire, it’s important to find someone who has the right skillset for the job. But hiring only for the skills you need will neither ensure you hire the best person for the role, nor the right person for your business.

Here are the five top attributes that companies should hire for when filling creative jobs.

1.    Personality

The best creative professionals are the ones who can take a project and make it their own. They must be able to use their creativity to produce the best solutions for any given problem. You can’t do this without the passion that drives the creation of solutions and new products.

The best creatives must also be able to build relationships with others (including clients) and communicate well. They must fit with your team to be able to collaborate effectively. And they should be open-minded, to accept feedback, alter their way of thinking, and evolve as the market moves on.


open-mindedness, creativity, intelligence, collaborative, critical thinking, passionate

2.    Cultural Fit

Creatives must be engaged with your products and services. They should present and work with enthusiasm, and be engaged with your mission and values.

This is all about cultural fit – which can be an abstract quality to describe. You’ll need to consider how likely the candidate is to conform to your behavioral expectations and core values. It’s not about what they do, but about how they do it.

Remember this, too: hard skills can be learned quickly. Culture evolves over time. Without cultural fit, a hire can become dissatisfied, leading to poor productivity, disengagement, and a greater likelihood to leave.


personal values, teamwork, beliefs, attitudes

3.    Motivation

Motivation is key to a creative professional’s success. To find a creative professional that is motivated, you must first find out why they are motivated ─ what gets their creative juices flowing, and what it is that compels them to go the extra mile. The three types of motivation are:

  • Intrinsic motivation ─ comes from within the individual and is usually related to personal interests or desires
  • Extrinsic motivation ─ comes from outside factors such as rewards, punishments, or feedback from others
  • Amotivation refers to those who have no interest in performing an activity at all

Avoid candidates who lack motivation. Focus on those who are intrinsically motivated. These are the creatives who will push hard, maximize their productivity, and deliver solutions because they not only enjoy what they do, but their results are the reward they desire most.


personal goals, self-development, positivity, resilience, engagement, challenge, autonomy, collaboration

4.    Cognitive Ability

Creativity is not just about being artistic or having an innovative idea. It also requires the ability to process and generate ideas, which are essential to any creative professional.

Cognitive ability is defined as ‘the mental processes involved in grasping facts, applying knowledge, forming concepts, generalizing, and solving problems’.

A creative with high cognitive ability will be able to learn and adapt quickly, and solve problems by looking at them from different perspectives.


problem-solving, self-learner, adaptable, flexible, innovative, attention to detail, focus, anticipation, memory

5.    Job Knowledge Over Experience Over Qualifications

Creative professionals need to have a deep understanding of the industry in which they work. They should be knowledgeable about the latest trends and techniques in design, marketing, sales, and customer service. They’ll know what customers want and need, and they use their knowledge to create tailored solutions. In short:

  • Qualifications only tell you that a candidate may be able to do the job
  • Experience tells you that the candidate has done the job before
  • Job knowledge tells you that the candidate is doing the job now


industry understanding, follows trends, up to date with techniques, customer-focused

Hiring the Best People into Creative Jobs

Creative jobs are becoming increasingly competitive because the talent shortage is growing. To hire effectively, it’s crucial to change our mindset and hire future-proofed talent in which we can invest for long-term benefits.

We need to change our mindset about how we view these jobs, so that we will be more willing to invest in them. When filling a role, it’s crucial to focus on the key attributes that future-proofed creatives need.

Therefore, you should design your hiring process ─ from advertisement to offer ─ to target, identify, and confirm that your new hire has the qualities that will make them a valued hire today, and a valuable member of a high-performing team for many years to come.

Where do you start? Incorporate the five attributes and 31 watchwords we’ve included in this article into your strategic hiring strategy.

To learn more about how we help our clients obtain the best talent and future-proof their high-performing teams with our creative staffing solutions, contact TECHEAD today.

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