The Designer & Company Disconnect

Most companies I talk to are desperately looking to hire good designers. Most designers I talk to are desperately looking for work. Somewhere, there’s a breakdown happening.

Too-high expectations from companies

These days, companies want the “unicorn designer” with design skills, coding skills, video skills, photography skills, etc. The reality is that many designers are highly skilled in one area and “proficient” in the rest. That doesn’t mean they can’t do it all. It’s becoming easier and more natural to grow these secondary skills. But it’s likely they don’t do everything as well as their main skill.

“Great talent is scarce”

I may be guilty of having unrealistic expectations myself. Or maybe our expectations as a company are fair, but as a McKinsey&Company study suggests, we’re at a shortage of highly talented people.

“Do what you love” mentality

These days, we are led to believe the perfect job exists. You know, the one where we love our work so much we “don’t work a day in our life.” The one that makes us spring out of bed each morning, throw open the windows and sing like a character in a musical.

Too much process, too little bravery

Some companies are so bogged down with process, the room for creativity is slim. Thus, designers don’t have the opportunity to flex their creative strength and companies don’t see the best possible work. The result is disappointed companies and stifled, bitter employees.

Companies don’t know what they need or want

Example: Most companies now think they need a UX designer, but some barely understand what a UX designer does. Meanwhile, most designers are calling themselves UX designers now because it’s what gets them the job. So a company hires what seems right, the designer applies for what seems right, and both are clueless about what is actually needed.

Designers have skills, but lack professional capabilities

In our How to Get a Job at X series, the most-wanted secondary skill (skill besides design) BY FAR is communication. It’s possible designers are talented, they’re just not communicating their designs and themselves well. A designer could do the best work but if they aren’t able to present it well or sell it to stakeholders (the team, clients, etc.), their work becomes useless.

Self-taught Designer & Maker. Un-Employed. Founder of Formerly Spotify — More About me:

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