Finding the right talent is key to building a strong UX department. A recent roundup featuring industry luminaries like Kris Davis and Josh Goodwin – Amazon’s former Sr. UX designer – makes it clear that reliable results are driven by good hiring decisions. This article from UX Matters also draws a clear link between positive results, and the presence of UX professionals that “are a good fit for their organization”.
It’s important to remember that this is equally true for embedded teams and centralised UX departments as well. Ultimately, you will only be able to deliver strong growth if you can fill your team with individuals that:
• Suit your company’s organisational structure and environment
• Possess the skills needed to drive positive results
• Collaborate with other, key individuals in the business (including engineers, developers and product designers)
• Commit to constantly developing their core skills, in-line with the industry’s growth.
Attracting the right talent can be challenging though. An article published by Medium found that demand for experienced UX professionals outstrips the supply by a significant margin, and highlighted a significant shortfall in experienced talent.
A 2017 report published by Adobe also found that 87% of the 500+ managers that they interviewed were actively looking to expand their UX teams, suggesting that the talent pool is likely to shrink further. This is particularly evident in Ireland where a lot of tech companies are rapidly scaling up their operations.
The discrepancy between supply and demand means that UX designers, interface builders, researchers and engineers can all be selective about the opportunities they choose to pursue. This means that you’ll have to work harder to fill positions, and compete with established brands if you want to attract the UX industry’s finest minds.
To maximise your chances of securing the right talent, this article provides:
• A detailed overview of the things that seasoned UX professionals look for in a potential employer.
• The strategies that large companies use to secure top UX talent.
• The ways your organisation can leverage these strategies to build a robust team.
Reading interviews and industry op-eds, it quickly becomes clear that the best UX professionals all look for 6 key things in a potential employer:
We can’t all offer people the chance to work on the next Twitter, Spotify or Netflix, but it’s important to understand that good UX designers like to be challenged.
If you want to attract motivated and professional talent, you’ll need to spend some time making sure that they’ll be able to sink their teeth into interesting projects, and work on some fairly big features.
This means getting sign off on some big changes before you start the hiring process, so that you can tell prospective employees that they will be able to make an impact.
Red tape is the bane of most creative types, and an article published by inc.com makes it clear that UX professionals are no exception. To make sure that you don’t scare off the talent, try to make it clear that you won’t sabotage their workflow by making them jump through hoops, or introducing unnecessary bureaucracy.
If you can’t promise this, it might be worth reviewing your internal processes. A certain level of bureaucracy is required – particularly when you have to justify decisions to other C-suite executives – but difficulty getting sign-off on UX improvements, or resistance from other areas of the organisation are likely to hamper your results.
Seasoned UX designers will be able to tell that your organisation isn’t set up to leverage their talents too. Most good designers, developers or engineers are a stickler for UX processes, you may struggle to attract strong talent if you don’t have a good structure in place.
A strong narrative
A strong narrative
According to Inc, UX professionals are also big on narrative. They want to drive real change, and they need to feel like they’re making a difference.
This means it’s not enough to offer fun projects and a good salary. Instead, you’ll need to think about offering them a strong narrative; A reason for your organisation’s output, and a good reason for getting on-board with your project.
This doesn’t have to be paradigm-altering aspirations though. Sometimes it’s enough just to explain how your product (or service) changes people’s lives, and show potential hires that they’ll have the opportunity to shape that interaction.
Camaraderie and culture
Camaraderie and culture
Google, Apple and other, top-tier tech firms have set the bar pretty high in terms of company culture, and it’s important to note that most UX professionals do expect more than just the normal, office environment.
That doesn’t have to mean ball-pools and table tennis though: A lot of the time, the promise of camaraderie, collaboration and creative freedom is enough to satisfy talented individuals. Seasoned industry professionals rarely have unrealistic expectations, but they are aware of the fact that UX designers/engineers can end up being split across multiple teams, and isolated from their peers.
If you’re worried, you could think about promising to set up regular group lunches, quick-fire morning meetings and other, team-building opportunities
A defined role
A defined role
According to UX Magazine, a lot of UX professionals are put off by vague job offers, or roles that don’t seem to have a defined purpose. This includes roles like “UX ninja” or “UX guru”, which tend to communicate a lack of clear focus
To avoid alienating talent, think carefully about the role you’re trying to fill. Ask yourself what your new employee will be responsible for, and what you want them to deliver.
Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll be able to build up a stronger opportunity, and attract discerning talent.
Like most people, UX professionals are also motivated by a fair salary and other perks. Some companies go all-out, and offer access to workplace pets, discounted gym subscriptions, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Most employees will be satisfied with an industry-standard wage, and a couple of little bonuses that demonstrate professional respect.
This could include things like an all-expenses-paid trip to conferences like UXinsight, career development opportunities, or even just weekly outings with the rest of the team. The important thing is to show potential employees that they’ll be a valued member of your team.
Looking at the way industry-leading companies, like Google or Spotify, appeal to UX professionals can help you to build a strong blueprint for future recruitment projects.
According to an article published by Fast Company, Google’s go-to strategy is complete transparency: Rather than trying to describe the “perfect” fit for their chosen role, they spend time crafting a job description that:
• Clearly outlines the gap they’re trying to plug
• Specifies the type of person they’d like to work with (in terms of skills and attitudes)
• Makes day-to-day responsibilities plain
• Defines the way the described role will fit into their organisational structure
According to Google’s Venture team, this lets potential applicants know that the company has thought about the realities of their role, and shows people that they know exactly what they’re looking for.
Google also have a habit of being very frank about any weaknesses on their end, which helps to communicate that they think of prospective employees as problem-solvers, rather than another cog in their (increasingly-large) machine.
Spotify take a slightly different approach, but there are some striking similarities. According to this interview with Aquent, Spotify have built a strong team of world-class UX designers by broadcasting their commitment to collaborative, and creative solutions.
They’ve also publicised the creative control that they cede to their UX team, and tried to do everything they can to reassure potential hires that they’ll be part of an innovative team.
In other words, they’ve worked out what UX designers really want from their job, and built job descriptions around those key needs.
Making good use of these techniques is relatively straightforward: As long as you’ve got the whole C-suit on board, it should be relatively easy to sit down, and draw up job descriptions that appeal to the key needs outlined in this article.
Taking a leaf out of Google’s book, it is important to ensure that you are communicating a full understanding of the UX industry. This means:
• Picking appropriate job titles
• Making responsibilities and expectations clear from the get-go
• Outlining the organisational structure that your new hire will slot into
• Defining the kind of projects prospective employees will engage with
• Highlighting the benefits they’ll bring to your company
It’s also worth thinking about creative freedoms and responsibility. Spotify’s experiments with UX recruitment make it clear that the best designers thrive on collaboration, freedom and genuine responsibility, so if you can communicate your willingness to engage on these three key points, you should maximise your chances of securing world-class talent.
Ultimately, it’s all about understanding what UX professionals really care about, and making sure that your organisation can meet them halfway.
If you’re looking to grow your UX/UI team, we’d be more than happy to offer you support and advice. We’re an established recruitment agency that specialises in sourcing UX and UI talent, and we’re always more than happy to help businesses build the in-house resource that will take them to the next level. Get in touch today, and one of our experts, will walk you through the strategic advice that we can offer. CLICK HERE and get in touch today!
Author: Carl Flynn
Carl Flynn specialises in UX Design & Digital recruitment. Call Carl today for expert strategic advice on how to build your dream UX team.