How To Recruit, Attract And Close The Best Product Designers

The demand for quality product designers is insane.

In 2016, product designers were the most in-demand talent in the tech industry according to recruitment company Onward Search.

And in John Maeda’s 2017 Design In Tech Report, this sentiment was shared loud and clear:

This means one thing for startups, brands and agencies: competition.

It’s a competitive time for attracting and retaining product designers. If you want to hire a great product designer, you’re going to have to pull out all the stops. Not only do you need to understand the salary and other costs that come with a great product designer, you also need to know what goes into creating an organization where product designers want to work.

Over the last few years, we’ve been able to recruit and attract some of the best product designers in our region. This has been an intentional effort, and we’ve tried to constantly improve our approach based on the lessons we’ve learned. In this post, I’ll share with you some of those lessons to help you bring in top talent.

Here are four ways you can put your brand in a good position to recruit, attract and close great product designers:

Have A Quality Presence Online

The best product designers are going to be quite tech-savvy. As a result, you can safely bet they’ll be using Google (at the very least) to learn a bit about you and your organization before applying. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your online presence communicates a story and message that resonates with potential hires.

A quality online presence starts with a website that’s easy to use and easy to understand. We pride ourselves on having a website that shares our story in a very straightforward way while still communicating the high-quality work that we do with our clients on a regular basis. The best product designers appreciate simplicity and usability and want to be inspired by your organization’s work. Use your website as a platform not only to showcase the product or service you offer but also to paint your business as great place to work.

Similarly, you’ll want to invest time in your various social media channels. You don’t need to invest hundreds of hours each week to have an effective social presence, but you should take the time to create and share content on your accounts that gives people a glimpse of what your company is all about. For example, we share photos on Instagram that highlight our work:

Special gifts from our clients:

And a peek at what our office looks like:

These simple posts can go a long way in helping potential hires understand what it’s like to work at our company.

Think about the different activities happening within your organization and what you could share on social media. People want to be able to picture themselves working with your team, at your office and on your projects. So share those things!

Spend Time Where Designers Hang Out

If you wanted to catch fish, you probably wouldn’t load up your tackle and head off into the desert. Similarly, if you’re trying to attract great product designers, you need to go where the designers are. This means getting out of your industry bubble once in a while and going to designer events and meetups and signing up for online communities with a designer focus.

As you attend these events and spend time in these communities, you will quickly learn how to navigate them. At networking events, it’s simple: Treat them like you would any other event. The only difference is that you’re there with the intent of finding great talent instead of trying to close a deal.

On the online front, you need to investigate how you and your team can add value to the design-focused communities you’re visiting. If you’re spending time on an idea-driven website like DesignerNews.co, you’ll want to engage in conversations and debates related to design. If you’re spending time on an image-driven website like Dribbble.com, you’ll need to invest time in creating shots that the community would appreciate and share.

As a result of being active in the design community, you may have great product designers reach out to you directly. In addition, the fact that you have a presence on these channels will help differentiate you from the competition and increase your chances of getting a positive response when you publish a job posting.

Take A Look At Designers’ Past Work

Once you’ve begun to establish a presence in the design community, designers will take notice. You might start seeing resumes and portfolios in your inbox even when you don’t have a job listing posted. When this happens, you’ll know that you’ve officially become an organization where people want to work. Congrats!

Now it’s time to figure out how to pick the right people.

For starters, you always want to look at their past work. You need to gauge not only their skills but also the quality of the organizations they’ve worked for. We personally know the importance of a great team as it’s the sole reason we’ve been named the Top Mobile App Development Agency in Canada. So, it’s important that you invest time and energy into investigating the companies these product designers are coming from to ensure that they’re actually as good as their resumes suggest.

Understand What Great Designers Want

Many people make the mistake of thinking that great designers just want creative freedom. In reality, the best product designers and design thinkers I’ve ever met are interested in doing meaningful work with great people.

The best designers are problem solvers.

In fact, they get more excited about constraints and problems than they do total freedom. Thus, it’s on you to communicate to potential hires that your organization prioritizes problem-solving instead of just setting designers loose to do what they want.

But you need to understand that the work itself isn’t enough to attract and recruit the best designers.

According to Maeda’s Design In Tech report, the best product designers are also looking for education, capital and an inclusive environment. The best product designers are always striving to improve, they want to be compensated well and they are stimulated by diverse perspectives. Create an organization that achieves those things and you will create an organization that is more likely to recruit, attract and close the very best.

Read On: Seven Must Read Books From Some of The Best Product Designers

Wrapping Things Up

So there you have it: If you’re willing to spend the time and resources to seek out and attract great product designers, not only will you see better talent come through your pipeline, but your company will end up doing better work.

If you’re currently on the hunt for a great designer but aren’t sure whether you should hire in-house or outsource to an agency, we’ve got a guide I think you’ll find very helpful. It will give you a transparent look at the pros and cons of outsourcing design vs. hiring for it. Check it out:


Originally published at www.mindsea.com on April 5, 2017.

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