Discover more from on making
Friday exhale (but on Monday) — 2/28/22
Hard to do an exhale right now so this one’s a couple days late…
Nobody really needs to hear me say the aggression from the Russia towards Ukraine is an affront to all of us…but as someone with ties to Eastern Europe both personally and at work, my thoughts are with everyone in and near Ukraine. If anyone on this email is dealing with the effects of this unconscionable action, please reply to this email and I’ll do whatever I can to help.
Some thoughts on hiring designers…
My head has been deep in hiring designers the last few months. Everyone’s struggling to find designers right now — it’s totally your market if you’re a great one, or one on their way.
I wanted to take a few minutes to denote some things I’ve noticed over the last few months of hiring in hopes to help some of you out there find that new Product Design or UX gig. If you’re hiring, maybe this will help you if you’re trying to figure out what to look for, or are having trouble sourcing folks to begin with.
If you’re a designer, learn to talk about your work
Before the “technical” interview, myself and the hiring manager do a screen with candidates where we ask them to walk us through a project they’re proud of and why. This isn’t a surprise to the candidates, as we ask them to be prepared to talk about their work for 20-25m, but I am always surprised at how many people fumble this step.
Especially when interviewing for mid-level and above candidates, the ability to distill work, and how they got to “done,” is crucial to success…both in an interview and in the actual job. The best interviews I’ve been in have prepared an actual presentation…I wish I could say off-the-cuff Figma file chats were better, but in this case preparation has always paid off.
Avoid the cookie-cutter
If you’re a designer, when preparing for this session be sure to clearly outline your goals, how you knew when you were hitting them (or how you planned to track them), and go into the collaborative process. Too many people simplify too far, ignoring the learnings along the way…I don’t know if this is for fear of looking like they didn’t know what they’re doing or what, but that nitty gritty is where you really get to know how a candidate will work in real life. A real-world design process is rarely “define → understand → ideate → prototype → test.”
If someone doesn’t talk about that collaboration, the assumption will be that you don’t do it or are prone to siloing, which just does not work in a modern product team. This is more okay when interviewing for associate / entry-level positions…but the earlier you can demonstrate a team-oriented mindset, the better! If you’re not doing this in your projects now, I guarantee this is the quickest way to becoming more valuable to your team, getting promotions, and ultimately making more money and having more influence.
One thing I didn’t expect…
There are some *seriously* great designers hiding in some *seriously* design-absent companies. I can’t count the number of designers I’ve interviewed working in industries you’d never think of as having designers that are absolutely killing it in their craft. If you’re only looking for people at companies you admire, consider opening up to companies you either don’t like the design of, or you didn’t realize even had designers.
Obviously can’t mention specific industries as to keep our hiring process confidential, but think outside of the apps you know. Every industry is becoming technology-led, which is fast leading to designers being hired in them. Oftentimes these orgs don’t know what to do with them, so they are are ready to jump to an org with a bit more organization.
On the flip-side, if you’re a designer looking to do the “real work” consider going somewhere other than a FAANG. I saw a tweet once that was like “designers love going where the design is already done” and I couldn’t agree with it more. So much opportunity in the spaces that haven’t understood the power of design yet.