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Finding the right designer is a problem? Let us help you.

Picture this: You need design work and have the budget to bring a senior designer for your company.

You talk to HR and craft a 'pixel-perfect' job advertisement: you use all the right keywords and make it super convincing.

You publish it on LinkedIn and (insert here your other favourite professional network).

You sit and wait.

One day goes by.

Two days.

One week.

One month.

Nobody applies. Or at least nobody who seems qualified for the job.

You spend hours reading the applications, just to realize that most have the wrong set of skills or experience. 


What went wrong?

Design recruitment is more complicated

Long long time ago, organizations hired designers with a single mission: make the logo bigger. Just kidding. It was a little bit different: make the logo beautiful.

Design was a synonym for purely aesthetic solutions. Nothing wrong about it, as people like beautiful things.

However, nowadays, design plays a strategic role and brings value for business. Not only aesthetics anymore. Here is a definition of strategic design.

Designers’ ability to influence decisions and set direction over issues that affect the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of an organization, such as development and communication of a brand’s core values, positioning, and creation of new markets. Micheli, Perks, Beverland in the article Elevating Design in the Organisation.

Designers enable companies to build new businesses: they care about the users' needs and build physical/digital solutions for them. Designers have a broader range of tools and can help organisations to focus on the user and deliver value to them.

This is one of the reasons design recruitment is more complicated today: with the expansion of role designers play, there are too many designers out there: Business/Product/Service/Visual/UX/UI/etc. designers...

Another reason is that all kinds of companies are hiring designers: startups, big corporations, design agencies, public sector, etc. The classic demand versus supply is unbalanced: there are much more open positions (demand) than qualified designers (supply) out there. ‘There are not enough qualified design candidates and senior design talent is scarce’ was noted in a survey with 600+ design professionals made by Nielsen Norman Group. This makes the competition for talent much fiercer.

Redesigning the design hiring process

 If you don’t think designing a great candidate experience is UX design, you are sadly mistaken. And, you’re losing great candidates. Jared Spool in the article Your Job Ad: The Start of a Great Hiring Experience.

With so many companies competing for the same designers, the challenge is how to attract designers for your company? The days of simply publishing a job ad and waiting for candidates are gone.

It's unlikely that designers will knock on your door, so what should you do?

Companies must be proactive in reaching out to designers that might make a good fit for them. They also need to be open about the design team structure, roles and past projects is a good way of making sure designers can visualise themselves in the team.

But be aware that this is a two-way street: while you are evaluating the designers’ skills and experience, they will be evaluating you and your company as well. More experienced designers are like detectives: they will look for clues in your talk, job advertisement, website and their professional networks about the position and the company to see if they are interested in joining.  

A classic mistake is companies who, instead of hiring a designer, are trying to trying to recruit the whole design department in one person: ’we want a designer who is good in UX/UI/Research/Business/Presentation and also can code as a pro’. This is a quick and effective way to scare out qualified designers. Your company will immediately look like they don't know exactly what they're looking for and the role cannot be defined clearly.

At Alpha Design Partners, we speak designers' language in recruitment. It is our mission to help you find the right designer for your company according to the skills and processes that are specific to your needs. We know how to set up Design Operations in large and small organizations. Because the only thing worse than a bad designer is one who does not meet the needs of your company.

For example, when your team needs UX and UI design work, you don't go hire someone who has years of experience in packaging design and never worked with digital design. Sounds absurd, but we have seen this happen before.

Here is our process for design recruitment

  1. Meeting with the client: We sit together with the company to clarify the designer’s profile needed. We also help to define why the company is attractive for designers. We will help your company to craft your message in a way that resonates with what designers want to hear. In practice, this means some edits in your job advertisement and other recruitment tools you are using for recruiting.
  2. Search for talents: Based on the designer’s profile defined earlier, we will start our searches in our own networks and databases, but also looking for talents that are qualified and are not in our networks (yet).
  3. Meeting with candidates: We meet with all potential candidates to assess their fit with the search profile, their motivations and fit with your organization. When we meet candidates, our design leads will lead the conversation and assess the candidates' skills. Our goal is always to suggest several candidates that we feel are a fit for what the company is seeking.
  4. Connecting candidates and the client: When we see a fit between the profile and motivation to start a conversation, we deliver to our clients a review of the candidate and our assessment on why s/he is a fit for your organisation. After that, the discussion continues between the candidates and the client.

What our clients say about our design recruitment process?

 We've helped a number of companies over the last years by finding design talent to meet their needs. Here's what some of them said

'All my experiences with you are highly positive and I feel that you have delivered exactly. what was promised (and maybe even a bit more). You communication has been clear and professional. I would love to work with you again if possible.

– Emmi Marjetta, Director, Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding at Hoxhunt

“Alpha Design Partners has helped us to boost our Design Operations with effective designer headhunting, from midweight product designer to design director.”

–  Rami Korhonen, CEO, Oivan

Summing up

Design nowadays plays a strategic role and brings value for business. Hiring designers is extremely hard, mainly because there are many types of designers and most qualified designers are not looking for jobs. It is your company's job to make yourself interesting for these candidates. We can help your company to find designers who are qualified and interested in working with you.

So the next time you need to hire designers, let’s talk and see how our team can help you to find a qualified designer for your team.

We're happy to help!

Author: Paulo Dziobczenski
Co-author: Harri Kiljander

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