The Job Search

Kondo Your Career: Tidying Up Your Work Life (it could be magic!)

By Kristen Harris

A few years ago Marie Kondo wrote a little book about the “life-changing magic” of tidying up your home, which gained popularity and spiraled into a Netflix series. Now it seems like everyone I know is “tidying up”.

The word “Kondo” has even morphed into a verb. Friends of mine have said ”...last week I Kondoed my kitchen…” or “I spent all week Kondoing…” In fact, just last night I Kondoed my tee shirt drawer (she was right, they’re easier to find when folded into little squares).

Why are people obsessed with decluttering? I believe it’s because we crave a sense of control over our lives. With news, information, entertainment, and work bombarding us from every direction 24/7, we want to feel like we can control some part of our life. Even if it’s just the tee shirt drawer.

So I started thinking, can you Kondo your career? Does this concept of tidying up apply to work as well as home? Yes, and not just by cleaning off your desk.

Marie Kondo’s method emphasizes keeping only items that speak to you or, in her terms, “spark joy”. This is the same for work and career–we only want you to hold onto things that bring happiness. Let’s be honest, it’s called work for a reason; not every moment is going to be sunshine and roses. But I truly believe that everyone can find happiness in their work and, if that’s not the case, then it’s time to find work that can make you happy.

Just as she suggests tackling your home objects by category, we encourage you to look at your work life and career in the same way. Start with self-exploration, then experiences, resume, work samples and, finally, relationships.

Self-exploration is first and critical because if you don’t know what you want and need, it will be impossible to clear through the rest. Collecting and reflecting on experiences helps you gather information to edit and update your resume. Next, gather, edit and organize work samples that support your resume and the type of opportunities you’re interested in. Finally, review, edit and maybe increase your relationships to match your wants and needs.

When helping someone declutter their home, Kondo has them gather everything from one category, literally making a huge pile of all of those items (e.g. clothing or kitchen tools). Use this same concept when tackling one of these career categories. For example, to begin tidying up your work samples, start by making a big pile of everything you have (literally or electronically).

Then consider each piece and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If yes, put it in the “keep” pile; if no, then thank it for the role it played in your life and let it go. You really only want the best of everything in your life, and that includes your best work, best experiences, best relationships, etc. I know, this process all sounds a little woo-woo but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know what brings us happiness. There is a mindful, introspective component to this clearing method that allows us to keep the best and release the rest.

Once you’ve narrowed down to what you’re keeping, then find the best method for organizing and storing. This could mean creating a dream board, re-designing your resume, building a new portfolio website, re-organizing the folders where you store work samples, or connecting with all of your contacts through LinkedIn. Whatever the method, you need an attractive and easily accessible way to store these items or information.

Taking time to clear through materials, experiences, goals, samples, and relationships that are no longer serving you can bring more happiness (maybe even life-changing magic) to your career!

Why a Podcast?

At Portfolio Creative we have been placing creative people into roles and helping our clients find the perfect person for well over a decade.

Even before this all started, we were creative people, hiring people, interviewing people, or being interviewed ourselves. With all of that life experience, we’ve acquired a lot of knowledge about how the job market works (and how it doesn’t work).

  • We have learned what makes a successful interview from both sides of the table.

  • We have learned how to present ourselves and how we wanted to be presented to.

  • We have learned how to find a job you love or an employee that you would soon love.

  • We have learned a lot–but what good does all that knowledge do if it’s trapped inside our heads?

So we decided to start the Illumination Bureau podcast to share all of that information. To help candidates get hired and for clients to find success in hiring the right person. Everyone is making a first impression at one time or another; this podcast will share information about putting your best foot forward. And, sometimes, it is just not a fit. We’ll also help you move on and find the job or candidate that is.

We’ll talk about finding the right job, moving up the ladder, mentoring employees for leadership, side hustles, contract employees, and so much more. There is a wealth of topics we can cover and, if we don’t know, we’ll bring in an expert.

We hope that you will learn a little something as you listen and share these podcasts with those that you think could use some help. Together, we can build a stronger creative community.

We’ll be talking to you soon,

Catherine & Kristen


We Find A+ Talent

By Kristen Harris

We are all about talent. Whether you write impactful copy, design beautiful graphics, create amazing physical or digital spaces, take stunning photos, or manage a project to the nth degree, you have creative talent. And we believe in the power of your talent to impact business and change our community, maybe even the world. Yes, I went there...your creative talent can change the world.

Catherine and I are creatives at heart, with BFAs and entire first careers as artists, designers, art directors, and creative managers. Now, through Portfolio Creative, we get to help other creatives bring their own talents to the world. When our clients are looking for just the right person and creative people are looking for their next opportunity, they come to us. Why?

We find A+ talent.

It’s our business and mission to connect great creative talent with companies who need their skills and talents. New ideas, innovation, and fresh perspectives are inherently creative and increasingly important to business success. It’s possible to sell practically any product or service anywhere in the world, but think about how much creativity it takes for that to happen. Someone has to think of and create an amazing new thing, and then it has to be shared with others who may need or want it. Every step of that journey requires A+ talent. Companies need great people–to find the right person at the right time–and we do that.

Our team works hard every day to find and connect with top creative talent with a wide variety of skills. We want to work with the best of the best, and that goes way beyond just finding a great person. Because we truly care about the people we work with, celebrating their successes and cheering them on throughout their career, we build genuine long-term relationships.

“We find A+ talent” is one of the things that makes us unique. And having that reputation means we are constantly reaching, setting the bar higher, and expecting more of ourselves. Because like attracts like: A+ Players want to work with other A+ Players. To earn the right to work with the best, we have to be the best.


We Value Creativity

By Catherine Lang-Cline

One of the main reasons we started this business is because we value creativity. It was not necessarily to start a staffing business, but that was the closest model. And, I had gained a bit of knowledge of the basics of a staffing company as a freelancer because I had used companies in the past to help me find work while I also found my own projects. I was registered with a few companies at the time but my best jobs came from the company that specialized in creative. Knowing staffing is important, being connected, but by valuing the creativity, you can offer more.

Tell me if you see yourself here. Growing up I remember valuing my Spirograph®, sketch pads, new crayons with the pencil sharpener in the back. I would spend hours on someone else’s Etch-A-Sketch® because we couldn’t afford to buy one. Easy Bake Oven® led to decorating cakes, graph paper allowed me to draw out layouts for homes, doodles on my school paper contained little outfits I would design and the complete love affair that I had with photography.

My career started by getting a BFA and getting a job with an agency. Commercial art is creative from the problem solving to the finished deliverable. There is also no end to possibilities; headlines, copy, content, images, and format. I appreciate all of it like a symphony that comes together and makes something lovely. Don’t get me started on my love for music.

What else? I travel to see exhibits and art museums. I read great books, watch movies, listen to podcasts, and see speakers just because I love a great story. How about you?

I tell you this because creative people are a special breed. It a talent to visualize and create something out of nothing. Starting a business is also creative and this brings us full circle. Why do we do this? Why does Portfolio Creative exist? Why have we never taken on anything other than the creative space?

We value creativity.

Creative people speak a different language. (Sometimes no language, as for us, it is just sometimes easier to draw a picture.) Our favorite people to work with are the ones that understand us and our vision. The ones that want to turn us loose and see what we can do because they value the talent we possess. The ones that see what we do as having value, not something to be handed out for free. My business partner, Kristen Harris, also believes in the value of creativity and our first conversation in starting this company was, “We want this to be about making the right match, finding the right person for the job, making sure the talent gets paid what they are worth.” (Let’s face it, as artists, we are always asked to do something for free.)

“We value creativity” is one of the very unique things about us. Artists are unique. Creativity is unique. People that value creativity are unique. We exist for all of you.


How To Love Your Job (or at least make the most of it)

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Believe it or not, many, many people do love their job. The stars aligned and they found their calling in the field that they love with the team that works wonderfully together. It is actually possible that you can achieve this, too. It may require a few adjustments or it may require you getting what you need right now and then strategizing for your next move.

If you already love your job with no issues, congratulations! You are one of the lucky few and you may be able to guide others in making it a great job for them, too. Bear in mind, you can’t fix everyone and some people are just in the wrong place but you may be able to help. If you see coworkers struggling maybe offer them some thoughts on why you love your job. Maybe it is the flexibility or the opportunity. Sometimes it is a conversation about how what you do is helping people.

If you love your job except for maybe just one person that is also employed there, you might have to dig deep and be direct. Sometimes having a conversation with a person can fix a lot of things. If someone talks over you, constantly is late, is never accountable, etc., you will get better results if you approach that person and tell them how their action makes you feel or how it affects the team. The idea of this is not to lecture them, but rather see the results of their action. Going to HR could be a choice if you feel that it is beyond what you can handle but sometimes people are not self-aware and if a few small things can be rectified, you might have a little more love for your workplace.

Finally, you might just not be in the right place. The culture of the company may not match yours or the work style or the people. You can make the most of your situation by transferring to a new area or figuring out what you can add to your skill sets at this job to prepare you for the next. Can you take on new responsibilities? Can you work on leadership skills? Can you learn some new software or skill that might expand your career? It will definitely help the company you're currently working for and you all may like this change. You could possibly love your job! If all of that does not work, you have set the stage for the next step in your career. Don’t forget while you have a job you can work on passion projects or activities outside of work that can lead you in a new direction.

The point is if you are not in love with your job:

  1. Talk to someone at the company that is and find out why

  2. See if you can change things in your environment, you may need to speak up,

  3. Start looking at opportunities within the company to make a change or gather more experience for the next step in your career.


You spend more time at work than at home or with your family. You might as well spend that time at a place you like going to and being with people you like.


How To Love A Job Search

By Catherine Lang-Cline

I know what you are thinking, is it even possible to love a job search? I’m here to say that it can be. That is because with every change there comes opportunity, so if you look at it with those glasses on you will see the possibilities.

Let’s get really real for a moment. If you are laid off or if you are fired you can feel a bit scared or hopeless. You might also feel very relieved. Regardless of what brought you here, you need to get past the mourning process as quickly as you can and get busy with your new job of finding a job. Gather up all that you know about you;

  • What are you good at?

  • What do you want to do next?

  • What specific skills do you have?

  • What did you learn in your last job?

Look at it. Look at it again. You are a pretty awesome candidate for someone.

Now what?

  • All of that goes into a resume update.

    • Really focus on your strengths,

    • Customize your resume for the job that you want putting those skills first

  • Send your resume in for job postings.

    • Job boards are not my favorite thing as they can be a bit of a black hole, but if you get no response you at least know what kind of roles they have

  • Make a friend with a recruiter.

    • Find and work with a recruiter that you can trust and really wants to help you

    • Be open to a temporary job that leads to full time

    • Temp jobs are a great way for YOU to try a company out.

  • Send your resume to any company that you would like to work at

  • Now is your chance to get into that company of your dreams

    • Find out who the hiring manager is and send your resume directly

  • Tell everyone you know that you are looking for your next opportunity

    • The more people that know that your skills are available, the more connections you will have for that dream job

    • If someone can recommend you, that is gold

  • Get ready to talk about YOU

    • This can be hard sometimes

    • Own what you have accomplished and tell them how YOU can help them.

This is where the love comes in. You have a great history of work. You have probably worked for some great companies and learned a lot of things that will benefit your next employer. Be proud of that, really proud. You are in a position to choose where YOU want to work now, maybe get that salary you deserve. The possibilities are endless but your job search doesn’t have to be if you have a resume that says what you can do and when you interview you can really sell you. Embrace the change and love you and what you can do.

Grab the cocktail sauce, the world is your oyster.


Time Management: Getting It All Done in the New Year

By Kristen Harris

If you’re anything like me, you’re headed into the new year with big plans and goals, maybe a long list of things you want to accomplish both personally and professionally. Goals are good, but how on earth are we going to get it all done?

Time management is one area where I’m continuously trying to improve. We’re all given the same number of hours in a day so I want to use my allotment wisely.

First, I have to decide what I’m going to spend my time on, and the answer can’t be “everything”.

  • Be Clear on Priorities. I have lots of different interests and new ideas every day (#curseofcreativepeople). I am also fortunate enough to be offered many opportunities, from trips and events to board positions, business connections, and creative projects. While I want to do everything all the time, I know that I just can’t. I’m one person, and being worn out isn’t fun either. Over the holidays I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what is most important to me right now and where I want to spend my time and energy this year. Being clear on priorities helps me decide whether a new idea, opportunity or plan is the right thing for right now. Which leads to...

  • Saying No, or Not Right Now. I’m really working on this one because by nature I’m a “yes” person. I like helping people, I like new opportunities, and I have a lot of different interests. But I’ve realized that I can’t do everything well all at the same time, so right now I’m working on saying “not right now”. Join a new committee? Not right now, but maybe when this current one is done in June. Start a new project? Not right now, ask me again in a few months. Meet up for a coffee chat? Not right now, but let’s schedule a time next week. Stopping to consider whether a new opportunity is something I really want to do and if it fits into my schedule has helped me say yes to lots of things, but not all at the same time.

By knowing my priorities and saying “not right now”, I’ve reduced the number of things I’m trying to fit into my day. From there, I apply a few tools and techniques to manage my time to get the things I’ve said “yes” to.

  • Schedule Meetings. I live by my calendar! While it might seem counterintuitive, scheduling meetings can be a great way to manage your time. I have weekly meetings with people on my team and try to schedule short meetings to discuss issues or solve problems. This saves us both from continuous interruptions or pop-ins and reserves time where we have each other’s undivided attention. If the issue can wait, we save it for our weekly meeting. Of course, anything critical or time-sensitive gets taken care of right away, but you might be surprised how many things can wait a few days. Plus, reducing interruptions increases productivity, so by having meetings I’m actually saving time!

  • Decide What’s Important. I’m a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix. (I’ve used this for years but only recently found out the origin. Apparently, it was a favorite tool of President Dwight Eisenhower...who knew?!) Basically, every task is urgent or not urgent, and important or not important. Something that is urgent and important needs to be done now, and usually always happens. But items that are important but not urgent often don’t get time dedicated to them even though they could be very impactful. Things that are urgent but not important should be delegated to someone else, and just let go of anything that is both not urgent and not important–delete it from your to-do list. Using this system can help identify items that need time scheduled to make sure they happen. Great segue...

  • Schedule Work Time. I am notorious for trying to jam too much into a day. To overcome this, when I have projects that need dedicated time to concentrate (like writing this article), I schedule blocks of time on my calendar. This accomplishes three things: it reserves time to get the work done, other people see it on my calendar and give me space, and it’s a reality check on what I can really get done. Often I start to block time for projects in addition to the meetings I already have scheduled, and suddenly my calendar is full. Or overfull. If there are simply not enough hours in the day or week to accomplish everything I’ve planned, then it’s time to make some decisions. Depending on the situation I might need to shift deadlines, reschedule meetings or change priorities. But at least I’m making these decisions upfront rather than getting to the end of the day having run out of time for an important task or deadline.

    Managing time helps me accomplish what is most important, and that doesn’t necessarily mean more work. Time management means you can work on art projects, go to the gym, spend time with family, take an afternoon nap, go to the park, or start a side hustle. This year, put it on your calendar and get it done!


Asking for a Raise? Timing Matters

By Kristen Harris

You’ve been working hard, doing great work, contributing to your company, and you want to ask for a raise. But is now the right time? When and how do you bring it up? Is it too soon (or not soon enough)?

Asking for a raise is one thing; getting it is another. With a little forethought and preparation, you’ll improve your chance for success. Go barreling into the conversation without a plan or respect for business etiquette, and it can quickly become awkward.

The Etiquette of Asking for a Raise (or How to Not Make it Weird that You Want More Money)

#1: Talk to the right person.

Any conversation about your pay should be with your direct supervisor or manager, but realize that they may not be the final decision-maker. If their response is that they need to discuss it with someone else, respect that answer and ask when would be an appropriate time to follow up on your request. Even if you know who the final decision-maker is, do not go directly to them; this is one place where you need to follow the chain of command.

#2: Be sure the timing is right to justify an increase.

Have you been in the position long enough to prove your worth? Are you taking on increased tasks or responsibilities? Have you developed additional skills or experience? You may think “it never hurts to ask” but actually it can. Asking for a pay increase too soon or at an inappropriate time can leave a bad impression.

I believe pay increases should be tied to increased work contributions, not tenure. But, if you really need a time frame, don’t bring it up any sooner than 6-12 months into a new role. When hired, you agreed on a certain level of pay; asking for more after a few weeks or months is unprofessional and unfair to the company. They may hesitate in the future when perhaps you really have earned an increase; it’s hard to regain that trust.

#3: Schedule a time to talk.

Most people don’t like to talk about money anyway, so don’t spring this on your manager or just “pop in”. If you have a regularly scheduled one-on-one meeting with your supervisor, that’s the ideal place to start the conversation. If not, then schedule a time or check their calendar for some free time. When the meeting comes around, make sure it’s still a good time to talk because you want their undivided attention with no distractions.

#4: Choose the right setting.

Any conversation about pay needs to be one-on-one with your supervisor. If they have a private office that works; otherwise, ask to meet in another private location. You don’t want others overhearing your conversation, and definitely, do not bring up pay in a meeting or group setting.

#5: Know what you’re asking for.

Do your research, evaluate your role, and put together your case for why you’re worth the number you’ve come up with. Also, know the range you’d be fine with, and understand that there could be pre-determined pay ranges for each role in your company. Generally, the larger the company, the more structured the pay levels are. Your role might have an upper limit, and you may even already be at the top of that range. If that’s the case, ask what you can do to continue to grow and move into the next level. Check out Asking for a Raise? Four Steps to Getting What You Want and Pay Matters: Getting What You’re Worth to prep yourself.

Being thoughtful about the timing and setting of any conversation, including one about pay, greatly improves the likelihood that you’ll have a positive outcome. Be prepared and good luck!


Pay Matters: Getting What You’re Worth

By Kristen Harris

Everyone wants to be paid what they’re worth. But what exactly is that? What factors determine your worth? How do companies determine the pay for a role and how can you find that out? People generally don’t like to talk about money so anything related to pay tends to be murky and mysterious.

First, it’s important to keep in mind what type of work you’re considering. There is a big difference between pay rates for freelance or project work as opposed to hourly contract roles or full-time salaries. Let’s break it down.

> People who work on a freelance basis are running their own business, even if it’s a business of one. Generally, you’ll be a 1099 contractor with all of the responsibility of finding your own work, running the business, paying the employer’s portion of payroll taxes, and providing your own healthcare and retirement. You have flexibility, but when you don’t work you’re not paid; there’s no holiday pay or paid time off. Whether you’re paid hourly or by the project, generally freelance rates are higher than contract or full-time because you’re taking on all of the financial risk and responsibility.

> With a full-time position, you’re generally paid the same salary every week, or an hourly rate with a guaranteed number of hours per week. The employer probably also offers benefits like paid time off, holiday pay, healthcare benefits, retirement plans, and maybe even an onsite health coach or foosball table! Plus the employer’s share of your payroll taxes is paid by the company. If you divide the annual salary by 2080 hours (the number of work hours in a year), the hourly rate might actually be lowest of the three but add in an additional 30-40% of your salary for those benefits to get a true picture of your total compensation.

> The pay for an hourly staffing or contract role usually falls somewhere between a freelance rate and full-time salary. Depending on the firm you’re working with, you may have a level of benefits similar to a full-time position (that’s us) or little-to-no benefits provided by the firm. If a lot of benefits are provided, the hourly rate will be more similar to a full-time rate; when no benefits are provided some firms pay a slightly higher hourly rate (although many do not).

So, with the context of whether the position is freelance, staffing/contract or full-time, how do you know if the rate being offered is appropriate?

Pay ranges are a bit of art and science. There are some online resources where you can search by title, experience level, location, and other factors. I always like to look at 3-4 different sources, remove any outliers, then find the average. These resources usually gather their information from individuals self-reporting so this gives you a good idea of the going rate for that type of position. That’s the science. From there you have to consider other factors like your particular experience or level of expertise, your reputation, whether you already have a relationship or have worked together before, and even the company itself. Some places simply pay more than others; every business is structured differently.

Even with all of your research, at some point, it might just come down to whether the pay being offered fits within what you’re willing to accept. If there is a gap, consider other ways to bridge it. What else is important to you? Sometimes it’s easier for a company to provide additional time off, flexibility or other benefits rather than additional pay. Just keep in mind that any negotiations need to happen upfront, before taking the job. Once you agree on a rate, that should be the expectation on both sides.

We all want to feel good about ourselves and that we’re being paid “what we’re worth”. However, there really is no magic formula to come up with that number. Only you know what is most important to you, what you’re willing to compromise on, and what’s a deal-breaker.

Getting “what you’re worth” really means that you feel appropriately compensated for the work you’re doing, and that number is different for everyone. It helps to understand the different types of work arrangements, and the market for your skill set. We work with creatives in this area every day, just let us know how we can help!


Your Guide in Deciding What to Wear for an Interview

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Today is the big day, the day of the interview, and you are swaying back and forth in front of your closet wondering what you should wear. There are some definite “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to picking out what you will wear, this is a guide to help you make the best choice.

  1. Pick something out the day before the interview, the week before the interview, just not the day OF the interview. This will make sure that there are no last minute problems with your attire. Everything fits properly, no buttons are missing, no holes and everything is wrinkle-free.

  2. Wear something simple. If you choose to be dramatic or daring in your wardrobe choice, it could backfire. Keep your choices simple. Ideally, no bold patterns, tailored, neutral colors, and simple lines. You don’t want your clothes to overpower you. YOU are the one that deserves the focus. If you wear something too bold or blousy that is the only thing that the interviewer will remember. If you know that everyone in that company wears t-shirts and ripped jeans, great! Wear a nice t-shirt and jeans. Elevate the look they have to be taken seriously.

  3. Keep jewelry to a minimum. Again, a statement piece could have its place, but you don’t want to be remembered for some giant pink earrings. Really determine if it looks good or if it looks distracting.

  4. Speaking of distracting, piercings, gauges, and tattoos can also be distracting. Use your best judgment. Sorry to say, it is ideal to remove piercings and to cover tattoos. You would be surprised how quickly a person can make a judgment call about you. I understand it is you. Loud and proud. But you can be you once they love you and you get the job. The last thing you want is to be completely qualified and you were immediately taken from consideration because of something that doesn’t even matter. It’s like when your mom finds out you got a tattoo. Chances are, she was already in love with you already.

  5. Wear something that makes you feel good about you. If you don’t have the clothes, go out and get them. Simple clothes in neutral colors are easy to find and they can be found at any price point. It may be worth just investing in that one power outfit and keeping it on hand for anytime you want to make a great first impression.

You are now ready for that interview. Go get that job!