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5 Tips When Hiring Digital Designers

5 Tips for recruiting a Digital Designer (3)
Lionseye insights from AC Lion

It can’t be stressed enough that this is a tough market. The best digital designers are getting snatched up by the best companies…quickly. That being said, hiring the right designer, whether it be for UX/UI, Product, Web or Interaction (if you’re still using that title), while challenging isn’t impossible. It’s all about having a thoughtful hiring process.


1.   Know the problem you are trying to solve

Oftentimes, hiring managers are looking for a Swiss Army Knife. They want a digital designer who can create a great user experience, a stunning user interface and top-notch interactions.

When approaching making a hire…what is the main problem you are trying to solve? Start there!

Do you need users to engage in a particular behavior more easily? Then you probably want a UX Designer, maybe with strong research. Some visual skills might be a “nice to have”, but that shouldn’t necessarily be what you look for. If instead, you are looking for something stunning that drives the brand forward…a visual designer might be the right path to take. That’s not to say you can hire a full-stack digital designer, but know which skills should be the focus versus a bonus.


2.  Portfolios aren’t everything

Some of the busiest and most talented digital designers have lack-luster portfolios. Want to know why? They are too busy solving interesting problems and their reputation speaks for themselves. Curating a portfolio takes time and energy. A decent amount of talented designers don’t need to keep their work up-to-date in order to get their dream job. They network with people whom they know and who know their work. 

What do you look for then? Think of a portfolio as a collection of breadcrumbs. Are they leading in a direction I like? Don’t close off conversations because you aren’t seeing the perfect portfolio up front. 


3.  Keep design tests simple or don’t administer them at all

If you are going to use a design test, don’t make it too complicated. Designers don’t tend to like design tests. Frequently they are a lot of work (and we already established, the best designers are busy), and sometimes mimic “real work” too much. Additionally, the time it takes to administer a design test that is “fair” usually adds a week or more into the process. 


 4.  Evaluate your budgeted salary (or your requirements)

Digital design talent is at a premium these days. That means salary expectations are at an all-time high, and that doesn’t mean employers are following suit. We see hiring managers lose out on the talent they want because they have “champagne taste, with a bud light budget”. If you can’t afford the level of design you are recruiting for, it’s time to look at candidates who can stretch into the role or are missing some of the requirements. You can also get creative and make the role remote or you can hire a superstar part-time (giving them freedom to explore creative side-projects). 


5.   Move fast or don’t bother

While this can apply to almost any talented candidate, it is definitely important to note that this is a major cause for hiring managers losing digital design talent. Streamline your recruitment process and ensure that interviewing and hiring remains a priority among stakeholders. Don’t forget that your hiring priority doesn’t always translate to everyone else.

It’s also a good rule of thumb that with every step in the process, adds a week to the time of fill. After spending time up front identifying and interviewing candidates it’s a shame to lose them because of an extra step. At the end of the day, you meet an amazing UXer, visual designer, or that hybrid amazing UX/UI Unicorn with everything…pull the trigger before someone else does.


In closing

Hiring is never easy, and targeting some of the most sought after designers only increases the difficulty of your search. Listen to the market and react accordingly. You don’t have to be Google, Apple, or Amazon in order to hire talented digital designers. You have to hire fast, pay well, and be open-minded. 




Meet the Author John Lovig 

Over the past 10 years, John has recruited internally for Yale University and Quinnipiac University before finding his place on the agency side. For the past 5 years, John has been focused on Design & UX, Product & Project Management, and finally Technology. John graduated from the University of New Haven with his Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Connecticut.