The Great Resignation in Creative Industries

There's been much talk about the Great Resignation, with workers across sectors resigning en masse from their jobs in early 2021. The tech and finance industries were reported to have been hit hardest, but despite similar employment trends being seemingly apparent across marketing, advertising, visual arts, and more, the creative industries were conspicuous by their absence from reports. Driven by the pressing need to fill this absence, we ran surveys with the aim of better understanding the cause and effect of The Great Resignation in the creative industries and cultural sector.

In the process, we identified a broader problem. There appeared to be a large discrepancy between job seekers and recruiters. Job seekers were complaining of difficulty finding work, whereas recruiters were complaining of difficulty finding suitable candidates. 

This discrepancy had, in most cases, formed in the first interaction – the job description and application process. The majority of the problems identified could be traced back to the job descriptions and applications, including the biggest problem of all – the emerging gap between  expectation and reality. 

This prompted us to explore how companies could better define their needs and improve their job advertisements so as to recruit high quality entry level and junior talent.


It is key to communicate clearly and prioritise transparency from the get go. Problems further down the line can be avoided if recruiters assume that applicants have zero knowledge of their company, and rethink the efficacy of the content and register of their job application process. Employer branding is crucial for attracting a high quantity of quality applicants. 

“Job descriptions are the most powerful but underrated part of the job application,” because “they are the first thing that any candidate sees and uses to decide whether that job is right for them,” states Mae Yip, Co-Founder of ERIC.  

Yip puts theory into practice at her company, exemplifying how a fresh approach can pay off – “At ERIC we promote hundreds of entry-level jobs but remove the job titles. Instead we mention the type of candidate the role is suited for and we've seen a substantial increase in applications since doing so.”

Our data uncovered one of the greatest problems is not a lack of skilled workers, but rather the fact that recruiters are not picking up on the skills that job seekers have. 

It’s important for recruiters to think about how job applicants can add value to a company in different ways, especially with entry level jobs.  How might job seekers focus on transferable skills and commit to upskilling? How might recruiters make it straightforward for job seekers to showcase the skills that make them quality applicants?


Nadia Vistisen at Art Fund notes that: “The number one key element is to be transparent about the salary for the role, and at the minimum offer a salary range on the job ad.”

Salary transparency should be the norm. Without it, many applicants bypass the role because they can’t assess whether the job is financially viable for them. This is especially significant for individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A lack of salary transparency could also project the use of unfair practices, such as wage gaps and unpaid internships. In addition, it can be a waste of both the recruiter and applicant’s time should they have different salary expectations come the interview stage.  

If You Could Jobs found in a recent survey that ⅓ of professionals considered salary the most important element of a job advert, with another ⅓ claiming it to be the second most important. 95% of people in the survey “much more likely” to apply for a job with a disclosed salary. 


The impersonal shotgun approach (of applying to many jobs at once) is on the decline. So, if job seekers are prioritising personal resonance in the job application process it’s important that recruiters match applicants with the same level of commitment.

This might mean being open to unconventional (non-CV-based) approaches, such as asking applicants to complete a set of tasks or questions. By tailoring the process, it’s far more likely that a good fit for the role will be found.

The renegotiation of applications also encompasses the spaces in which jobs are advertised. Recruiters should diversify where they post their job listings if they want to diversify their applicants. It’s surprising how many recruiters choose to advertise roles solely in one space. 

There are several job boards and advertising sites which cater to target audiences – from Eric, to I Like Networking, to Creative Access (each with their own target audience) – which can help recruiters to find “their people”. 

In short; a generalist approach no longer washes. Personalisation, communication, and transparency are the new priorities. 

The jobs landscape – from the application process to retaining fulfilled employees –  should reflect this.


  1. Compensation matters. Even if the job sounds like a great fit, undisclosed salaries deter many applicants. No one wants their time wasted by dollar store chocolates wrapped in Godiva packaging. 
  2. You don’t want a two page resume? Then stop with the 50 bullet point list of “job requirements”. No one is reading past the first 3 or 4. Straightforward and honest descriptions are what is really needed.
    Many apply on the fly, on their phones. Keep it short and sweet. Check mobile compatibility and auto-save-ability. If you need to see key skills in demonstration, get inventive – CVs aren’t always where it’s at. 
  3. Ask yourself, how many times have I taken a job and the work involved never matches the posted requirements? You might be surprised by the bait and switch. Be truthful about the company’s requirements. The role may not be the most exciting, but honesty is the best policy. Be open about the work culture and the opportunities for progression.

Written in collaboration with Ronnie Pope.