10 September 2021

Covid Creative Talk with Jade Sumner, Freelance Consultant, New Zealand



Creative Talk with our New Zealand Freelance Creative Recruitment Consultant, Jade Sumner.  Jade takes great care of all our clients and candidates in the design and creative sector. We find out how Jade is fairing during lockdown, and importantly how are our clients and candidates facing Covid.



Jade, give us a bit of background to you and how your journey took you to The Creative Store.


I have always been drawn and interested in ‘people’. I studied Psychology and have come from a history of jobs within the customer/client service space. On top of this, I have somehow managed to surround myself with creative people and, whilst not being overly creative myself, this is a space I have always had an interest in. Whilst living in London, I had a lot of experience working with Recruitment Agencies as a candidate. Upon returning from my travels in 2019, the search for my next job had me stumble across The Creative Store’s website who happened to be hiring, and the rest is history!


Covid has changed how we work and how our clients work – what are the most significant changes you have seen going into this August 2021 lockdown?


Coming into this lockdown, we are all a lot more prepared and aware of what is entailed from working from home. Remote working is so much more welcomed and is something that we have all had to get very used to since the first lockdown at the beginning of 2020. Most freelancers have a full set up they can use at home, which are being utilised and if not, our clients have laptops or equipment ready to provide. Everyone is familiar and comfortable using Video Calls through Zoom, Teams or Skype for meetings and are just getting on with it. Very refreshing to see in an otherwise chaotic situation we have found ourselves in once again.



Outside of a lockdown period, what percentage of clients prefer their freelancers to be working inhouse vs working from home?


I would say that since Covid last year, the remote based work is becoming much more accepted. Looking at percentages, I would estimate that approximately 40% are required to fully work onsite, 35% a flexible mix of working onsite and remotely, and then 25% working fully remotely.



Give us an insight into the current talent pool with border closure, and how we are all adjusting to sourcing the best talent.


There is some exceptional talent here in New Zealand. Since New Zealand closed its borders, we are seeing the market get a lot tighter within our local talent pool. Candidates are more regularly taking on longer contracts or permanent roles, and without the talent from overseas coming in, there are less candidates available on the regular. Despite this, we are constantly keeping in touch with our current candidates, making sure we are across their availability, knowing when they free up again so we can get them back out. We are also regularly posting, searching, and reaching out to new talent across social media. Interviewing new individuals everyday to find the best fit for these new roles.


It has also provided the opportunity for some perhaps slightly less experienced, but still exceptionally talented candidates to step up, upskill and work on opportunities that may have not been on the table otherwise. This has been great to see.


Are candidates – freelance, contract and permanent - being more selective in choosing their next job?


Candidates in all areas are certainly being more selective, particularly within the contract/permanent space. With less available talent in NZ, there are still plentiful job opportunities, so they have the chance to look at a couple of options and find what is best suitable for them.


Salaries and rates – what trends are you seeing in New Zealand?


Salaries and rates are certainly going up in New Zealand. This could be because they came down slightly last year throughout the first Covid outbreak, it could be balancing out. However, as previously mentioned, there is less talent available and looking for new roles. So, for a company looking for someone who is the perfect fit, we are more often seeing some flexibility with the rates to make it work.


Let’s talk about UX UI.  There is a serious lack of top end talent.  What would you recommend to clients as a workaround?


UX and UI Designers – WHERE ARE YOU? Haha, yes, there is major shortage of top end talent in this space. Most have locked themselves into long term contracts or permanent roles early 2021.  This has made it harder to manage clients’ expectations, who need these candidates all year round.  However, this has been a fantastic opportunity to see some of those less experienced UX/UI Designers step up and show they are also capable of this level of design. Majority have been upskilling and are ready to show what they can do.


The Unicorn candidate / job brief – we get some briefs that are challenging – requiring several skillsets that wouldn’t naturally align within one role – how do you navigate these? 


It’s always tricky when we get briefs, looking for someone with such a range of skills. It starts by narrowing down what the most important skill is and going from there. We are lucky here at The Creative Store that we cater to such a range of job disciplines and have such a range of talented candidates that, between us all working as a team, we do our best to find someone as close to the skillset as possible. At the very least, many of our candidates are keen to upskill, so these assignments can be the opportunities to let them do so. Or, depending on the brief (typically if it is a freelance brief), we can find two separate candidates to share the workload, so the client can get the best of both worlds.


We have offices in NZ and AU – which allows candidates to spread their wings and have further career options – however we don’t see too many AU flocking to NZ – why is this?


If we are ignoring the obvious Covid elephant in the room, I think this is because AU candidates perhaps think that NZ doesn’t have the same, big, and exciting opportunities that Australia has. Which isn’t all true! NZ is flourishing right now in many areas. We have incredible agencies and clients, with such incredible and exciting projects going on. They should be making the most of them. It would be fantastic to see some more AU talent here in NZ 😊.




If you are a candidate or client and would like to discuss your career / employment – contact us at The Creative Store.



New Zealand

Louise Lawton –

M +64 21 245 0089 /
T   +64 9 365 1077



Lauren Juska –

M +61 420 339 144

+61 2 8278 7514