Writing a Job Description for UX People

Part Two in a series of posts on how to recruit UX talent


(Before you start, be sure to read Part One: Understanding UX Skills)


The best thing you can do for your company as founder/CEO is to hire a great team, so it’s worth investing a lot of time and energy into writing a great job description. Even if you are relying mostly on your network to source candidates, you’re likely to need at least a description of your company to circulate to elicit interest from candidates. Designers are getting contacted on a daily basis about opportunities. How is your opportunity going to stand out from others?

A founder (not in the KV portfolio) reached out to me recently asking me to help him publicize an opportunity at his startup for a designer. This was the job description:

ACME is building the next generation resource optimization software to enable recurring activities (tours, ski resorts, amusement parks, zoos, museums….60B+ US only) along with support for consumer transactions (online, mobile, POS) of such activities. This configurable enterprise software stack can be applied to many industries with very large scale consumer usage.
The platform is SaaS based, relying on modern storage architectures(Sql/NoSql), REST based APIs, complex optimization technologies and built to scale. The founding team is led by experienced entrepreneurs and a core team of engineers. Well financed, VC backed.

This is a great example of what not to do in a job description for designers. It’s written from the perspective of a technologist with a focus on what technology will be built. The opportunity is not described in terms of who the target users/customers are and what problems it is trying to solve.

As you embark on your search for UX talent, consider the skills you most need based on your understanding of UX skills. Prioritize the skills and map out what areas you need excellence, competence, and a basic understanding. For example, the profile of your ideal UX hire might look like this (adapted from Paul Adams’s “How to Hire Designers” chart):

Compare this profile to these four hypothetical candidates:

Based on these profiles, who is the best fit from a skills perspective? That said, if you find a terrific candidate who doesn’t exactly fit the profile of what you are looking for, consider hiring the candidate opportunistically. If your company is growing, chances are you will need that person in a few months anyway.

Answers to your interview questions and the candidate’s portfolio should give you a good sense for where the candidate’s strengths and interests lie. You can even ask candidates to fill out their profile on a blank grid to get their own self-assessment of their UX skills across this spectrum.

With a candidate profile in hand, you can better understand how the candidate’s skills meets your needs.

There are five key ingredients for a good job description:

  • Name the role: You may not have the exact job title figured out, but the title on the job description should reflect what you’re looking for in a designer. Use job titles that are more standard in the field to maximize your chances of finding the right person for the role.
  • Describe the company: What is your raison d’etre? Why should a designer care about your company? How will this opportunity challenge and inspire the designer and motivate him/her to work at your company?
  • Describe the job: What will a typical day look like for the designer? What do you expect the person to do? You don’t need to enumerate all the tasks but you should describe what level this role is at, who they’d work with on a day to day basis, who they’d report to, and what a typical day/week might look like.
  • List your requirements and nice-to-haves: Your requirements are the minimum qualifications for the job; the nice-to-haves are what the ideal candidate would have. Requirements may include a specific degree or educational background, where the designer should be located, and number of years of experience in the profession. Avoid listing requirements that don’t add unique value to the description.
  • Tell them how to apply: Tell interested parties what to do if they want to apply. At minimum, provide an email address to which people can send their resume, portfolio, and cover letter.

Here are two great examples of job descriptions that have been particularly effective at generating interest in the roles (both positions have been filled!):

Webflow: UI Designer

At Webflow we’re constantly building new and exciting features that make web design much faster and easier. We’re looking for someone with a lot of vision and a lot of design experience that can own big product initiatives. There are so many fun and creative ideas that are waiting to be designed and built. If you love designing great user interfaces and you want to leave your mark on the future of web design then you’d be a great fit on our team!
You’ll be involved in every step of the process for designing Webflow products — researching the best possible solutions, creating user flows, designing mockups, designing high-fidelity UIs, and creating custom icons and graphics. Knowledge of HTML/CSS is preferred.
This is a full-time and salaried position that includes health, dental, and vision benefits. We also offer significant equity in the company and awesome perks.
RESPONSIBILITIES
Own big design projects (think social platforms, new design tools, and other high-impact projects)
Work directly with our engineers, delivering them product specs and assets
Work directly with other designers to envision and iterate concept
Contribute to high-level strategic decisions with the rest of the team
Compile research and create user flows
Design mockups and high-fidelity user interfaces
REQUIREMENTS
3+ years of UI design and interactive work
A solid design background with an obsessive eye for visual and interaction details
Experience designing web apps
Ability to think at a high level about product strategy and vision
Self-motivated and able to efficiently run with a project without close supervision
Basic knowledge of HTML & CSS
Understanding of basic SEO
Excellent communication skills — you should be able to clearly articulate your design decisions.
IDEALLY
Have experience building websites (HTML, CSS, Javascript)
HOW TO APPLY: Email your portfolio and resume to jobs@webflow.com
Note: You must have valid U.S. work authorization

Homerun: Designer

Hi, we’re “Homerun” and we’re redefining what it means to sell a home.
We will give homeowners a fair cash offer on their screen in under a minute, saving them 2 to 6 months of time and removing all of the uncertainty of selling a home. This is possible because we will literally purchase the homes ourselves (then resell them on the market). It’s a little bit crazy, but it makes for a much dramatically better experience for customers. In 10 years we hope we will be the only rational way to sell your home.
Here are two articles about us:
http://venturebeat.com/2014/04/03/keith-rabois-homerun/
http://recode.net/2014/05/23/khoslas-keith-rabois-aiming-to-launch-his-magic-home-selling-site-in-june/
We want to hire a thoughtful, empathetic, and experienced designer to build and lead the design team and culture at Homerun.
You will craft the delightful products and identity that will come to represent us. We’re introducing a fair and trustworthy product to an industry known for dishonesty. Your challenge is to overcome that bias and create an experience that earns customers’ trust and love.
If you succeed, you and your work will help define a next generation high-profile startup that changes one of the world’s largest industries for the better.
Responsibilities:
Leading the design of our “version 1.0" product
Developing an iconic and beloved identity for a high-profile startup as it launches and grows. (Think Square, Uber, Tesla, Zillow)
Developing products and tools for homesellers, homebuyers (for the property we need to re-sell), home inspectors, and internal teams.
Understanding how and where to use data to improve products.
Conducting and/or managing the outsourcing of customer research
Growing and managing an elite and widely respected design organization
To apply, send your resume and portfolio to jd+designlead@opendoor.com.

Next:Part Three: Where to find great UX candidates

(originally authored July 2014 for Khosla Ventures)

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