The Unicorn Designer
Whether you are searching for a job or are looking to hire, in the design world, you can always find a job description similar to this:
“Searching for a young, talented, junior-designer, with a great personality and amazing skills to join our team. Must be able to create perfect user experience, templates and wireframes, write copy, brand entire companies, and code in HTML, CSS, and jquery. Oh and on top of that be able to run all the social media, be the in-house photographer and have superpowers (flying is preferable).”
OK, so that last part not so much, but you understand where I’m going. People that have all these skills are the rarest of the rare. Thus, obtaining their mystical title of “Unicorn: designer extraordinaire.” If you happen to be the luckiest company in the world and find that one-in-a-million person, then kudos to you! But they will, undoubtedly, be completely overworked and cost you more than you are willing to pay them.
It is common to see listings such as this because hiring a designer can be a difficult task. There are many things to consider when hiring and ideally it would be wonderful to have someone who can be beneficial to the company in a few different areas. However, if you have many roles to fill, chances are you didn’t stack your team properly when hiring the rest of your employees. When going through the steps of hiring a new team member, the recruiter needs to consider if hiring one person, and possibly stretching them very thin, is worth the risk of compromising the quality of work.
On the other hand, job descriptions similar to the one above are very disconcerting for designers looking for a job, especially those fresh out of college. In school, designers are taught the basics of design with curriculums meant to give them a well-rounded education and dabble in many different areas. During this time, designers discover their passions and figure out what they want to do for the rest of their creative life. Eventually, like other careers, one must choose what track to pursue. As a designer, you are faced with either pursuing one aspect of design and mastering it, or becoming a jack-of-all-trades. But choosing between being exceptional at one thing, and being average at many things is a huge decision. Ultimately it IS the difference between getting the job over the next person.
So, how is this seemingly unsolvable problem solved?
Well, employers ultimately must decide exactly what they need. At Lucid Agency, we have a creative team that is tailored specifically to the needs of our clients and our company. As a design student nearing graduation, luckily, I have found creative mentors in my team at Lucid Agency who have helped me figure out what I am passionate about in the design world and what I want to continue through my career path. Being on the other end of the hiring process, I now know what I should be looking for in a job description and the kinds of things that will lead me to a position that I want to be in.
Have your team come up with three main things you are looking for. This is because you need to be realistic with your search. If you are in need of a visual designer, a developer, and someone to do UI development, chances are someone will only be able to do two of the three, and know that this is okay. Emphasize certain aspects that you feel are important and ask questions specific to those things in your interviews. And if you truly are in need of all three positions, then ask your team because chances are, you can probably use someone who is already working for you that has skills you might be looking for or at the very least is willing to learn and maybe even shift roles. That way, you won’t have to search for the allusive unicorn.
Now, aspirational hiring is not to be discouraged, but you don’t have to be great at everything to make great work. If you are hiring long term, look for someone with great base skills that can be molded and shaped into an excellent designer. If you want a junior designer, you might scare them away if you ask for the impossible and then expect them to already have 10 years of experience. Being clear and concise and fully understanding the needs of your company is the best way to hire someone who is not only talented, but is also the best fit for your company.