I Run My Own Creative Agency, So Why Do I Still Apply For Jobs?

Eight reasons to push through the application gauntlet.

Confession: My Creative Agency, justinpheap.co, is soaring to the moon, but I still apply for jobs on the regular. Why? Is it because it’s fun and efficient? If you’re applying for jobs, then you know this is hysterical and dead wrong because it’s the freaking worst.

No. I apply for jobs because:

Wendell Berry writes, “Teachers are everywhere. What is wanted is a learner.” My agency is successful, in part, because I’ve learned through many years of choices, consequences, and humbling experiences that I don’t know everything: I live in a posture of humility and what I call studenthood.

I am a big believer in the power of collaboration, and there’s a difference between Creative Agency + Client collaboration and Creative Director + Teammates collaboration. For better or worse, I long to find a dream team. It’s been twenty years and a manifesto in the making and when it happens, you can be sure it will be coconuts.

I have developed some culture crushes on teams like Doist, Baron Fig, and more just by reading through their job descriptions or applying! A website or an app is everyone’s best-dressed impression, of course, but the “careers” page reveals a little bit of everything: the highs, lows, internal language, and more.

Seriously, people. Can we just find a better way? And while we’re at it, stop limiting my pdf resume to 2MB. It’s ridiculous. Please and thank you.

When we put language to our story over time, we begin defining who we are and, inevitably, we will define who we are not. This can be a shocking realization for some of us, but it is true. It doesn’t have to mean our story is weak, limited, or small: but distillation brings clarity.

Often times, I have backed out of an interview process precisely because I found that my Agency offered more in that season than what I thought I would gain when I first found the job listing. Likewise, every interview has helped me more clearly articulate what I can bring to the table, and where I am weak. This information is priceless!

Turns out that extroverts are not great networkers by default. I don’t know exactly how this is the case, but trust me, it is. I need the framework of interviews and applications to help me network and meet other professionals in the field. Besides, how else does one painstakingly make one’s way through LinkedIn except with friends?

We know there are many invisible barriers that need a good smashing: talking about depression, impostor syndrome, and more. When a successful freelance designer or small business owner is considering full-time work, it feels like that. We don’t dare say it aloud, right?

But, anything that keeps us crouching low in fear ought not to be sustained: sharing about our doubts, questions, and hopes is a small but needed act of bravery with massive implications.

Your organization has thought about branding, your product, your story, your hopes. Moreover, they have all worked very hard to identify roles they need to fill, provide language that is accurate, and carve out time for vetting resumes: I get that and I respect that. My application is a small way of acknowledging all of this and more.

That anyone wants to work with another organization is a huge compliment, privilege, and responsibility. The world will never not need more kindness and thoughtfulness: applying for jobs can be one small way of practicing the art of being kind and essentially risking a chance at saying, “Hey, I’m interested, what do you think?”

And make no mistake, it is a risk. We on the other side of this equation receive far more “No’s” than “Yes’s.” But we learn from closed doors and we press on.

Creative Agency Founder writing on ideation, art, and design. Photographer at unsplash.com/justinpheapco.

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