These 5 C’s are essential ingredients for making your company attractive designers, based on my own experience of recruiting hundreds of UX people to join companies that were not originally obvious places for designers to join, and based on the experience and advice of two of the best and well-known UX recruiters in our industry.
Charisma of the CEO
A company’s ability to land great design talent has everything to do with how the CEO approaches talent search and recruiting. The best CEOs make themselves available to talk to a large number of candidates, even with “unattainable” candidates, so that they can educate themselves on design. They quickly learn that design is a completely different animal than hiring most other functions. They excel at telling the story of what the company is trying to do, and get people excited about solving the problems they want to solve. They bring excellent soft skills to the conversation.
It’s not enough to find a “great designer” to join the company; you have to find the right “profile”. The content of the company (i.e. the problems they are trying to solve, the domain it’s in) has to be the right “fit”. Find a designer whose passions and interests align with what your company is trying to do.
Designers want to feel like they’re surrounded by other like-minded people, or at least be around people who appreciate what they do. If you have an early stage startup, sell the designer on the opportunity to help shape the culture and the mindset of the company, and make them feel they have your support. Make sure they know they will be heard and will have a voice.
Don’t label and pigeonhole candidates as a certain “type” (e.g. a “visual guy” or “an interaction guy” or a “unicorn”). Talk about the challenges you and your company face and what is interesting about what you’re trying to do. Have a conversation with the designer: make the journey together to discover what the opportunities are, and build trust and rapport to bring the designer to come in and solve the problems with you. Don’t just let it be an “I need you” conversation; let it be a partnership that develops. Both parties need to know they are working with someone they can communicate with.
Salaries for designers are skyrocketing because there is a tremendous supply/demand issue. See the next section on Compensation for more details.