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Elizabeth Nientimp, the director of brand design for General Mills, was asked by Inc. magazine (in its May 2012 issue), “What are the most important considerations when designing food packaging?” Her answer: “Three things. First, make it simple. Resist the urge to tell consumers everything about your brand on the front of the package.” Allow me to interrupt Ms. Ninetimp. A couple of months ago I was at a career fair. There were thousands in attendance. One would-be candidate came over to me and handed me his resume and cover letter. I took one look at the cover letter, an eight by 10 single spaced sheet covered from top to bottom with his employment story and told him, “It’s too long. No one is going to read it.” “But it’s all important,” he replied. “No one is going to read it.” “But it’s important. You have to know this.” “It’s too long!” “It’s important.” “Give it to me.” I didn’t read it. When the crowd eventually cleared, the gentleman at the booth next to mine, a hiring manager from a Fortune 100 company, asked me, “Remember that guy with the long cover letter?” “Yup.” “He didn’t listen to me either!” Keep your cover letter short. No need for more than five paragraphs and no paragraph longer than a sentence or two.
  • The position you are applying for and where you heard about it.
  • Why you should be considered.
  • The answers to any questions asked (presuming you're replying to an ad).
  • Reference to your resume.
  • An appreciative close.
And that’s it. Simple. But let’s get back to Ms. Ninetimp. “Make it special. Understand what makes your brand unique, and own it.” That’s the second paragraph.
  • Why should you be considered for the position and not any of the hundred others applying for it?
  • What makes you so special?
  • What’s that one thing you did that sets you apart from the crowd?
It’s your elevator pitch. Own it. Let’s let Ms. Ninetimp finish. “Finally, make it personal. Know your key consumers and what motivates them; let them see themselves in the brand.” And that’s the key. The fellow with the long cover letter was only interested in himself. That was his focus: Look at how great I am! Your focus has to be on the employer and what she wants. Because the answer to the second paragraph question, "Why should you be considered?" is also the answer to the question, "What can I do for you?" And if that’s your attitude, what you can do for the employer, and not what the employer can do for you, your half way to a job offer. Job offer advice image from Bigstock
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Everyone needs to feel their voice is heard and their contributions are important. Something as simple as sharing a drink the last hour of the day on a Friday with the team to recap wins and give praise can build camaraderie within the team.

All of the above are fairly simple to implement but can make a huge difference in morale and motivation. Have any of these tips worked well for young the past? Do you have other tips to motivate your creative team? If so, please share them with me!

Encourage curiosity. Spark debate. Stimulate creativity and your team will be better at handling challenges with flexibility and resourcefulness. Create a safe space for ideas, all ideas, to be heard. In ideation, we need the weird and off-the-wall ideas to spur us on to push through to the great ideas.

Sure, there are a ton of studies done on this, but here is my very unscientific personal take. When team members can make decisions about how they work on projects, they are more engaged and connected to the project outcome. When they see how potentially dropping the ball would affect the entire team, they step up. When they feel like what they are doing is impactful and valued, they are naturally motivated to learn more, and be even better team members.

Rarely does a one-size-fits-all style work when it comes to team motivation. I have found that aligning employee goals with organization goals works well. Taking time to get to know everyone on your team is invaluable. What parts of their job do they love? What do they not enjoy? What skills do they want to learn? Even going so far as to where they see themselves in five years career-wise. These questions help you right-fit projects, and help your team see you are committed to creating a career path for them within the company.

Most designers I know love a good challenge. We are problem solvers by nature. Consistently give yourself and your team small challenges, both design-related and not. It will promote openness within the team to collaborate, and it will help generate ideas faster in the long run. Whether the challenge is to find a more exciting way to present an idea to stakeholders or fitting a new tool into the budget, make it a challenge just to shake things up.