Networking Through Unusual Avenues

Things are looking up!

Publishing jobs are popping up here and there throughout Chicagoland. Every week, a few more jobs are posted on Bookjobs, Craigslist, Mediabistro, and other job boards. But it still can be tough to break through the HR wall, what with hundreds — if not thousands — of applicants knocking at the door at the same time.

Networking can help get a foot in the door — and that’s part of the reason Chicago Publishing Network is here. With nearly 400 members through LinkedIn, there are scores of opportunities to ping colleagues at a variety of publishing outlets.

But what do you do if that full-time dream job — or, heck, just any full-time job — remains elusive? Freelancing immediately springs to mind, and today with outlets like and other repositories for journalism, there are scores of opportunities for independent-minded folks to keep on writing. Another option is to align yourself with one or more creative service agencies.

Creative service agencies — and there are several in Chicago — are like temp agencies for creative types: editors, writers, designers, etc. Typically, prospects interview with a recruiter, similar to a job applicant interviewing with HR for a “normal” job. Sometimes a skills test is involved (e.g., a copy-editing test, proofreading test). Sometimes portfolios are requested. For applicants who make the grade, agencies can place you in temporary, part-time, or even full-time positions. Some of are off-site, some on-site. Some are long-term gigs, some short-term. Some come with plenty of notice, some gigs start right away (as in the next day or even later the same day). Applicants can toss their hats into the rings for gigs in which they’re interested and skip the ones that don’t appeal.

Of course, every agency works differently. Not every agency will be a fit for every job-seeker. But, they do offer opportunities that might otherwise be difficult to find. And, assignments often offer enough flexibility to keep looking for that full-time gig (dreamy or not) as well as to take on assignments you drum up yourself. One caveat, though: Oftentimes, agencies require applicants to sign non-compete contracts, which means that if you get an assignment with one of their clients, you can’t then go ahead and get side work from the same client for a specified amount of time (sometimes a couple of years).

Working with creative service agencies is another avenue job seekers can use to network. New assignments means meeting new people, which can lead to other assignments. Every assignment might not be perfect. Some assignments might be a drag. But if they pay the bills and help you stay active in your chosen profession, perhaps it’s worth a shot.

Chicagoland is home to several creative service agencies, including:

Networking often means putting yourself out there in ways you might not have expected. Searching for that new job might mean taking that other fork in the road. Creative service agencies are just one of the avenues available for publishing folks looking for the next big gig.

Good luck!


1 Comment

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One response to “Networking Through Unusual Avenues

  1. Thanks so much for the wonderful tips! It was great meeting you, too, at the freelance summit at the Gleacher Center last week!

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