I am not good for everyone. I know this. A colleague from the UK said I am like Marmite.
Usually, I get hired in places that want to innovate and shake up the status quo. I get hired when they want to have a strong, active, design team. On the flip side, I don’t get hired at places that just want the design department to “make it pretty” and “do research”.
Lately, I have been recruiting 70% of my day. It is tiring. I use one recruiter that has worked with me for about 18 months. Unfortunately, she just left her job, so I need to break in a new recruiting partner. This post is for her.
Since the new recruiter doesn’t know me, I am putting together this post to describe the candidates I love and why. These are not in any particular order. If you are a hiring manager, I would suggest making your own notes for your recruiter. They want to know how you think. The post is a little long, sorry.
I think designers can be leaders in their first jobs. Also, some designers will never be leaders, no matter how long they work. On my team, there are currently 5 out of 7 designers whom this is their first job. Bottom-line: I don’t care about career length.
For some reason, alot of designers care about process. They think, “A good process will yield a good result.” Unfortunately, the world is messy and different processes are required for different situations and teams. Sometimes research is stupid. Sometimes, putting sticky notes on a wall is useless. Sometimes, a combobox is just a combobox.
Designers who want to talk about process are not interesting to me. I want to talk to designers about situations, problems and solutions. It’s not a one-size-fits-all world. I don’t care about process.
Indiana University, Carnegie Melon, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UT Austin, etc etc, all have official HCI programs. Additionally, you have people with certifications from General Assembly and Tradecraft. As far as I can see, neither education teaches students how to design. It makes me nuts. They teach research, but not how to make a B2B application. So I don’t care about education.
You want to impress me? Read About Face by Alan Cooper.
Many designers are coming from overseas, especially China. This is fine, except for two things. First, I need the candidate to have excellent English skills. They need to collaborate with other people and I don’t want language getting in the way. The second is visa status. Recent graduates are actually better on this score. Transfers are a total pain the butt.
We do have some visa employees, but the hassle is not trivial. So bottom line: If they are Visa – then they better have excellent scores in everything else including english communication. I care about communication.
I have written about portfolios multiple times and no seems to want to do anything about it. If a designer’s site is AT ALL differentiated, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt. I won’t rehash all of those posts here. Suffice to say, I care about originality and good design.
Give me a counter-culture designer any day of the week. I want someone who questions authority; someone who sees the emperor is not wearing clothes.
Interviewing a candidate last year, I critiqued something in her site. She immediately pulled out a piece of paper and sketched an alternative. Give me that designer!
I want people who have a problem-solving point of view. There are many people who want problems solved for them. The people I love say, “Hmm, I wonder how this might be solved. Let’s try a few things.” I avoid people who think PMs should be responsible for solving every problem. I care about personality.
Attention to Detail
Design is decisions and details. There is no design without details. Grammar mistakes on their site and resume are pretty bad to me. Default designs are even worse. I want designers who try things even if they don’t work out. I care about the details.
For the New Recruiter
Send me emails of candidates with the following information:
- Email Address
- LinkedIn URL
- Portfolio URL
- Visa Status
- Personality – please be insightful not just “Seems good”.
- Location (Length of commute)
- Level (Graduate, Mid, Senior, Principal)
- Passwords for their site (if applicable)
- Hiring Process notes (Are they interviewing? How far along are they?)
- Resume (attached)
In the subject use New Candidate – [FirstName LastName]
I will check to make sure they haven’t already applied.
Do not tell the candidate any of the following:
- What our design exercise is
- What I like or don’t like
You can tell them the following:
- What Treasure Data does – We are a CDP (Customer Data Platform). This means we are tools to consolidate, clean, and organize company data so it can be used for marketing purposes. It’s a business-to-business (B2B) tool targeting marketers and data engineers in giant multinational companies. Our competitors are Salesforce, Adobe, and Oracle. The information on our website is not all that helpful to explain currently.
- That all the secrets to getting this job are here on my site.
- That our process is
- Zoom video conference screen
- Design exercise
- On-site interview where you show the design exercise, have lunch with us, and do some whiteboarding.
- That I often ask atypical questions and make you question everything you know about design. Don’t panic, just be yourself and be present in the moment with me. They aren’t trick questions. The answers I want come from an authentic place. Don’t say what you think I want to hear.
- That our benefits and salaries are very good.
- That the design team is currently me plus 7 designers.
- That the design team (all of us) plays a strong leadership role in the company and product vision.
- That we do not do a ton of research.
- That we do not do any mobile design
- That we do not work on the public website. (Product only)
- That we use Figma and collaborate all the time in it
I think that should cover it. If I missed anything, I will update this post.
For any designers reading
Here are some questions I will ask you.
- What are you looking for in this next position?
- Why you and not someone else?
- How are you becoming a better designer?
Most designers don’t answer these questions very well. They give me platitudes and stock answers. Tell me your truth. Be brave. Say something that comes from your heart. Take a chance. Maybe I will like what you say. Maybe I will hate it. But it won’t be based on a lie.
Some hints on the answers – I really want you to succeed.
- B2B is not B2C. Desktop is not mobile. Sketch is not Figma. A big team is not a small team. Research is not design. In-house is not consulting. On premise is not work from home. What do you WANT?
- Think about what you do well. Think about what you bring to the table. Think about why you would make a difference somewhere. Why you?
- Reading Medium articles and going to meetups is fine, but it’s not going to make you a better designer. Maybe you don’t want to be a better designer? If you do, maybe you should put more energy into it.
Imagine a house where the design team lives. We are hiring 5 more people to live there this year. We don’t want to bring people in who leave their dishes in the sink and underwear on the floor. We want people who paint a mural in the hallway and fix the roof gutters. We want people who make the house better than when they found it.
If you are interesting in joining the team, just apply at our careers page.