The Job Search

Expanding Our Table

By Catherine Lang-Cline

When you want to invite more guests to your conversation, you add chairs and expand the table. When you believe you can offer more people your service, you expand your business.

Fourteen years ago, we had this idea to specialize in creative staffing. My business partner and I worked in advertising and marketing for many years and really understood the industry. As a result, we created a company that created perfect matches based on that experience. Then we asked, why stop the conversation there? Let’s add people to the table.

Let’s start with how much we love Columbus. Columbus has been so welcoming to us and many, many other entrepreneurs. Columbus also has a great arts community; great museums, theaters, and more. If you have ever been to Cleveland or Cincinnati you know that they too have an incredible arts scene. Because it is so strong, we know that the people that live there have an admiration for the arts and thereby also appreciate great talent in all things creative, including advertising and marketing. That is the only way that this formula works.

It is for these reasons we believe that we can add Cincinnati and Cleveland to our conversation. We speak creative and have ingrained in us the type of excellence we expect our clients to have. Clients that belong to creative communities and understand the value of creative talent. Yes, yes, many staffing companies place creative talent and general staffing and they exist in both places. We believe that placing creative people is not typical staffing. It is based on a person’s personal style. It is also based on strengths and whether or not a person is a fit with your values and culture. But creative teams know this. 

As we sit between both cities, we have loved visiting Cleveland and Cincinnati. We have been to its ballparks, museums, restaurants, and mostly we know a number of creative people that live in both places. So pull up a chair and let’s talk (more) creative.


How to Market Yourself at Networking Events

By Catherine Lang-Cline

It seems like there are networking events every day of the week. After you have decided which one to attend, you need to figure out how to get the most out of your time, something beyond, “what do you do?” and “can I have your card?”  Everyone is there for the same thing, to shake hands and maybe make some sales. With that in mind, you should not be afraid to start a conversation. You should also be doing more then just collecting cards too. Here are a few things you can do to not only meet people, but market to them, too.

  1. Be happy to meet someone. As you are introducing yourself, do it in a way that is friendly and warm. Seem obvious? Apparently it is not, as many people can treat you like just another handshake with no eye contact or no real interest in their voice. You never know who you are going to meet, so display an attitude of what it would be like if they are your customer. People like working with people they like and people that will take care of them. The first impression you give markets your business as a place that is friendly and can help them.

  2. Everyone is talking business and sales, so throw a curveball and talk about the food at the event, ask if this is their hometown, maybe ask what they like to do when they are not working. The idea is, you want your conversation to stand out. It will really stand out if you discover that you both have something in common. People like to do business with people that they share common interests. Dig for that and they will remember you as someone that they can relate to.

  3. Ask them about their business first, people love to talk about what they do. It is giving them the opportunity to make the first pitch. You then get to talk about you and your business. Since they went first, you can make your pitch to directly address their needs, you can customize your pitch to fit their business. Target your products or services based on what you heard and connect the dots for them! Plus, once they see how you can actually help them, you will stick in their mind the next time they have a struggle.

  4. Ask how you can specifically help. If you can’t help them, is there someone that they know that they can connect you with that does need what your business offers? Warm lead! Is there someone you can introduce them to at this event that they would like to meet or can help them in some way? Connect them! They will not forget your helpfulness and they will love to know that they helped you. You are marketing yourself as a connector and a partner in the community.

  5. Think about how your social media is set up, what information are you pushing out, what articles have you written, or what information are you sharing with the world? All of these things are great marketing talking points and conversation starters to show others how you are the expert in your area. People love hearing from an expert and you can think of this conversation as you hand-delivering your social media marketing. Sometimes people don’t need your business right away, but if you can help them right now in another way that shows off your expert thinking, they will first be grateful, and then remember you as the expert when they do have a need.


None of this can guarantee business of course, but what it does do is allow you to market yourself through conversations that will be remembered. It takes a number of events and meetings with people more to get your message out. There is an unwritten rule in marketing that people need to see a message seven times before recognizing it or acting upon it. Be patient, be present, and market yourself as you go.


What Inspires You?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

What inspires you? It is a tough question sometimes because when asked the question, we tend to state what other people think we should say. Typical answers can be my parents, my spouse, my children, etc. All of these are really good answers because you see them and you want to do better, work harder, and provide more but the word “inspire” is really much more.

Dictionary.com tells us that “inspire = fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” So yes, people can inspire us but let’s think differently as there are a lot more things that can inspire us in more creative ways.

For me, I find delight in any form of the arts. Seeing actors in plays or dancers on stage make by heart and soul swell. When music plays I can feel it in my heart and it sometimes it gives me goosebumps. It generates a genuine physical reaction that is again, delight, it “makes me feel something.”

What inspires me the most are things that I believe that I am capable of doing. For example, I go to an art gallery and see the paintings and because I paint, I am inspired to apply their techniques, work on larger canvases, try mixing mediums, and altering my style. Granted this is WAY more elevated than where I am, but it gets me excited to try something different, to push myself.

In my career, it works the same way. I see how others are achieving their goals, I study their techniques, their style, and try to up my game. People that have worked hard to achieve their dream inspires me. People that build a great marketing message, a solid brand inspire me. People that develop great cultures in their business or do things that really matter inspire me. Building a business was uncharted waters but we surround ourselves with people that could help us, would push us, and inspire us.

Being inspired is seeing something amazing and wanting to reach that high, too. So now, what inspires you?


Goal Setting Isn’t Just For The New Year

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Did you set goals when it was the New Year that you have achieved? How about goals that you have started?

The thing about goals is that they sound fantastic at the time but when attempted, you realized they might have been harder than you expected. This is perfectly okay as we sometimes get swept up in the idea of achieving something in the New Year with all of the cheering and festivities happening. But it doesn’t mean that they aren’t obtainable and it doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to set a goal.

No matter what time of year it is, set goals:

  1. Keep a journal, make a dream board, or just write it on the wall, but create something visual that contains your goals.

  2. Revisit those quarterly. Add or subtract to the list. Think about what you can do this quarter to move the needle closer to your goal. Is there something you can add or is there something that no longer makes sense?

  3. Share your goals with at least one person to help you with accountability.

What is great about this is that it is a “living list”. You can take things off that are no longer making sense for you, you can leave things on the list because you need more time, you can add new things to the list because new and cool ideas pop-up all of the time.

If your goal is something big like a vacation, getting a new job, losing weight, plan those quarterly check-ins to check your own status. Are you saving money, did you rewrite your resume, did you start an exercise or diet plan? The entire goal does not have to be achieved, just progress if you are truly committed. Add another goal, something simpler, or something harder as you move through your year.

You might have a goal in the Spring to clean out your basement. Want to get it done? Maybe just delegate it. Do not be afraid to ask for help on any goal and the people that can help you with those goals can make an appearance in your life at any time.

The “magic” just doesn’t happen once a year to set goals. Set goals and be accountable, all year long. Five...four...three...two...one...Happy Goal Setting!

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.