A Guide to Design Recruitment

A basic guide for organisations hiring in Graphic Design and Web Development

Not everybody who is looking to recruit Graphic Designers and Web Developers actually fully understands what to look for and how to go about it. Whether you’re a HR professional, Internal Recruiter, Managing Director, or Marketing Manager; I’ve put together this short and (hopefully) helpful guide on the things you should consider when looking for a creative professional to join your business.

1. Essential Vs Desirable Experience

 

Firstly, do you actually know what you need? E.g. what are the essential requirements that a candidate must have to do the role. Or, have you only decided on what it is that you would like? E.g. what the desirable skills/experience would be. This is a very important thing to establish early on as in reality the two may be miles apart.

Think about what you need to be designed/developed. Is it predominantly print; editorially focused literature; digital and social media imagery; creative artwork; websites; or infographics? Get down on paper what your business actually needs. Once you have a clear indication of this, then you can think about what it is that would be desirable.

You will need to be realistic about this as finding the perfect candidate who ticks every single box  will be hard to come by. But if you can get a candidate with the right personality; they will often be able to learn the bits you would find desirable that they don’t currently have, and will probably enjoy doing so. Especially if you can find/fund the training for them.

2. Translate Essential and Desirable Experience Into Technical Skill Requirements

 

The things you need are your essential experience, and the things you would like are your desired skills. If you’re clueless here because it’s digital development stuff which goes over your head, why not get an external consultant in for a few hours? There’s plenty around who can help out for a fee and this will be money well spent; or likewise ask around as there’s always people like me on LinkedIn or in your circle of friends who are happy to give free advice and help out. Asking for help with this can ensure you get your design recruitment off on the right foot.

Once you know what your essentials are, you can use this to figure out the technical skills you need as a base. Nine out of ten times, for the majority of design work, you will need people to be well versed in Adobe Creative Suite (which in my opinion is the most commonly used group of design software packages), but depending on the type of work you need there may be parts of Adobe that are more important, or other software experience that is essential.

Figure out either with the help of other people in your business, the internet, consultants, or your friends, what will be needed from day one to tick the boxes of the essentials, and what would be nice from day one, or what could be learnt to benefit you in the future. There’s lots of added packages like Lightroom for photos, Autocad for technical B2B drawings, WordPress for a certain style of web development, and on and on. There’s endless options out there so don’t be too anal about these added abilities, as most designers that love designing will be more than happy to pick things up for a role if they’re given the chance to practice.

3.Understand Your Audience and Applicants

 

If you’re not a big corporate company and don’t always need people in a suit and straight ironed tie, consider giving creatives a little slack if they’re not suited and booted for an interview! The creative industry is generally quite laid back, so don’t be surprised if somebody rocks up to an interview dressed as if they’re about to sit down and watch TV (in fact, if they turn up like this I would be more confident they’re a good creative than if they turn up dressed to the nines). There are of course more corporate creatives out there as well, but I would suggest being very clear from the outset if you need creatives to come dressed in a suit.

Also, don’t put too much emphasis on candidates being super gregarious as standard, a lot of designers can be less extroverted, so expect this, and certainly don’t be put off by it. The onus should be on the work they can produce for your company. Think about what you want; somebody who sits around chatting all day, or somebody who focuses on designing the best literature and websites ever? Naturally though, if you’re an agency and need somebody to talk with your clients, put the outgoing/ confident personality in as an essential requirement.

Consider your office atmosphere – if you’ve not had a creative before and have a no-music policy in your office/don’t let people listen to music on headphones, it may be worth re-thinking this. When you’re glued to a screen all day pulling images about, you need that music to get you through the day. So be prepared to flex on this for creatives who don’t need to pick the phone up constantly, and if you’re not adverse to it, put some music on before they arrive for the interviews or outline that you are flexible in this area. You would be amazed at the number of candidates who will not take positions purely based on the atmosphere in an office.

I would also say try not to be put off if designers freelance as well, this is common place in the design industry. I’d expect 90% of the applicants for a design role to also do freelance design services in the evenings. There’s no need to look at this as a negative. Instead see it as them practising in their spare time, and a signal that they are passionate about their chosen career. The design industry has never been the highest paid, and as a result this is how a lot of creatives supplement their salaries, so if you force applicants to commit 100% to you, get prepared to up the salary you’re offering to secure their services. I do appreciate with this can be difficult if you’re a design agency, so in this instance you may have to ask your new designers to give you a list of their clients before they start, and sign a clause detailing if they leave they can’t take design work from your clients, this way there’s real transparency around their freelancing.

4. Ask to see a portfolio 

 

Most designers should have a digital portfolio of some of their work, either on a website you can visit, or in a PDF, some may even attach it along with their CV. Don’t be afraid to ask for this as a part of the process. However, equally, if candidates are more junior and detail that a lot of their more recent work was confidential, don’t discount them.

If you see somebody with a great CV and great design examples then get them in. And if they have the CV, but don’t quite have the examples, consider setting a small design test. Ask them to mock up a flyer using some text and your logo, or get them to create a GIF for your website – anything that can help you assess their technical skills if necessary. (If doing this, I would make it clear and obvious that whatever they are designing as a test is not something you plan to use, as some less professional companies may use this to get free design work done!)

I hope this short guide has been beneficial when looking to make a hire in the creative field. And if you do put a spec together and decide you don’t want to manage the process yourself, please get in touch as we of course would be happy to help! Equally feel free to contact me for advice on anything to do with design recruitment

Brand Recruitment are now offering more recruitment services across design and creative positions in the Central and Eastern Region. So if you’re a candidate looking for a creative job, or a hiring manager looking to recruit a creative/design related role please get in touch.

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