How To Get Hired As A Designer: Job Search & Resume Advice

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15 June 2017
‘’I want to connect with people who want to change the world and help them do it.’’Click To Tweet

This was one of the main reasons why we connected with Mindaugas who specializes in helping companies hire designers better, and matching them with jobs they’ll love. He has been doing this for the past 3+ years and one of his top skills has always been working with people.

1. Mindaugas, how did you find out that recruiting designers is your passion?

I moved to Dublin around 4 years ago. First, I worked as a recruiter for different roles – software developers, project managers and so on. But I felt like I couldn’t really connect with them on a level I wanted to. However, by working those different roles I was able to discover design and absolutely fell in love. Eventually, there was an opportunity to solely focus on design roles in my company, I took it and I’ve loved it ever since. I guess it’s because designers can show me what they work on and as I’m quite a visual person myself, it just felt right. I find designers easy to engage with and, as a community, they are very welcoming. If you do it the right way.

2. What was the biggest challenge when transitioning to hiring designers exclusively?

I think at the beginning I had to make a lot of mistakes, say and do the wrong things. The key for me was quickly learning from those failures, taking the feedback on the chin and improving my process.

I realized that for me to be able to do this well I had to learn what designers actually do and not be afraid to ask for feedback on how I was doing, that approach also helped me connect with the design community. It was a long term approach but after 3 years working this way, I can say that now I am part of that community. It’s taken 3 years. To achieve that, I’d go to different design meetups, events, UX Sketch Clubs which would mean going after work, in my free time. But I didn’t just sit there, I got involved and I didn’t try to hire anyone at those events. I was just there to build relationships and learn.

I also organized a couple of events myself, one was to help junior designers get better jobs, the “Design Disruptors” Irish Premiere, Framer workshop. I always believed the community support would get me ahead and it’s true, I’ve had so many awesome experiences because of that.  

3. What is the first thing you look for on a resume of designers?

There are stats that recruiters spend something like 9-10 seconds on a resume, and I think it’s true. I usually look for a link to their portfolio or something they might have publicly out there. For me personally, it gives a good sense of what this person might be about. A CV doesn’t always tell the full story. By the way, I’m not starting this whole portfolio debate again 🙂

Also, when it comes to the design of a resume, I feel people sometimes go a bit over the top. But if a resume is clear and gives me an idea of what type of person I’m dealing with and what they want to do, I continue reading. You often see the usual – motivated, team-player, you know, everybody says that. And nobody cares. Tell me what you want to do and where you want to get. If someone is clear about their goals, I instantly want to help them achieve that.

4. If there are 2 designers with similar skills and experience applying for the same company, how do you choose between the two?

I would not make the differentiation based on just a resume, that would be so wrong. I’d set up a call or a coffee with both. And go from there. Because it often happens that somebody applies for a job and when I do get to chat with them, we figure out that maybe the company isn’t the right one for them. So that can often happen. That’s why I feel a good, honest job description is crucial to getting more relevant applicants which speeds up the whole process incredibly.

Also, soft skills are a big thing these days. If I know the hiring company really well, I know what type of people they’d enjoy meeting. So it becomes less about the tech skills and more about the person. Anyone can match the job description against a resume, but it becomes tricky when you need to match the people. I look for terminology, maybe similar interests, mutual contacts, even tone of voice – some sort of common ground the candidate and hiring manager might have. That way there’s a pretty good chance they’ll get on. I love spending the extra time to get to know both sides on a deeper level, you get better results that way.

5. What advice would you give to junior designers starting out?

It’s my favorite topic. 🙂 There are not that many junior designer roles advertised, so what do you do? Get in touch with the company. That doesn’t mean that you go and email 50 companies saying the same thing. No – quality over quantity. And this method works.

They should treat it like a project. Do some research, identify 20 companies you find interesting. Put them on the list. Go on Linkedin. See who might be in a hiring position there – design manager? Get their names, emails. Then look into their profile in a bit more depth. Find their portfolios or side projects that they’re working on that are public. Look at that and personalize every email, mention something you find interesting about what they’ve worked on or spoke about at a conference. Send 2-3 emails and see if you get any results, if you don’t, try to switch up a little. Try not to ask for a job, but rather for advice. Most people will find some time and meet you and give you advice, and maybe would want to hire you in the future.

It may seem like a lot of work, but I’ve seen it result in juniors getting good jobs time and time again. I think this approach works for everyone to be honest.

6. Do you think something’s changed in the recruitment when it comes to matching?

I think it has. Some companies use the term ‘’company culture’’ but they don’t really care about it that much. But more and more companies do look for a perfect personality match because there’s so much competition out there. Companies are often swamped with irrelevant applications, they need to find somebody who is aligned with their goals and vision. Even if the candidate is more junior and their skills don’t exactly match the job description, they’d prefer someone who can fit in well and they can upskill them. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t happen often enough. But this brings us back to the fact that one needs to show personality in how they apply for jobs to attract the hiring manager’s attention.

7. Why don’t some people get hired?

It’s hard to say because I’m not physically in that process with them, I’m not sitting in during the interviews. I think it often happens because the basics aren’t covered at the start of the process. There are very simple ways to figure all that stuff out before it’s too late. I always insist with any client I work with that they do a phone call first or exchange a couple of emails. That helps work out whether there’s a potential match. You’ve seen their resume, portfolio etc, it’s time to get to know the person. Through just having a quick conversation you can learn a lot.

I see a lot of times people complain about getting rejected but then you ask – did you follow up and ask why and what you could do to improve? I think it’s really important. Some companies won’t bother but some are really awesome at coming back with very specific feedback which will help improve going forward in the job search. You just gotta ask.


If you’d like to connect to Mindaugas, do it via Linkedin or follow him on Twitter. You can also check out his Jobs Board.

Tatiana Rehmova

A glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason. Loves writing, editing and researching the newest ways of doing things.

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