Ask any experienced business owner and he’ll likely say the same thing: creative roles are the hardest to fill in any organization.
Not only is there a dearth of talent, most creatives – including designers – scarcely take the usual path to employment. Few major in design-related fields. Rather, they learn most of their work from self-study and on the job training.
Given this lack of academic credentials and limited talent availability, how can your business find better designers for its projects? In this guide, I’ll share some answers.
- Go beyond salaries
One of the easiest ways to attract high-quality designers is to offer them above average wages. But when you’re fighting against Google, Nike, and countless well-funded startups and agencies for talent, it’s not always possible to compete on salaries.
The solution to this problem is to focus on something other than salaries, that is:
- The quality of your work, especially the kind of creative freedom on offer
- The quality of the community and colleagues the designers will work with
- The cause and focus of your work – creative people like to know that their work is making a difference
- Opportunities for career advancement and accelerated learning
Younger people are especially drawn towards the above perks instead of just a fat pay package. In one study at Facebook, younger employees (below 34 years) prioritized career and community far more than their older counterparts.
Keep this in mind when you’re hiring designers. If you can’t match your competitors on salaries, at least match them (or better, beat them) on the quality of your community, the clarity of your cause, and the opportunities for career advancement.
- Be clear in your vision when hiring freelancers or agencies
Hiring a full-time designer isn’t always the best option. Smaller businesses leading one-off projects are almost always better served if they hire a freelance graphic designer. Not only do you save on annual employee overhead, you can also get access to talented, highly specialized designers at a fraction of the costs.
The problem, however, is that businesses are seldom clear about their purpose and requirements when working with freelancers. Their art direction consists of little more than telling designers to “make it pop”. This makes freelancers’ jobs harder and eventually leads to inferior results, leading to much of the hand-wringing you see among businesses about design.
The solution to this problem is to have clarity in your vision when you hire freelancers. You need to know what you want and communicate it clearly. You can do this by:
- Writing a creative brief that summarizes your brand, vision, campaign objectives, key message, and product details.
- Creating a “moodboard” on Pinterest where you share images of campaigns, ideas, and visuals that you like and want your brand to emulate.
- Sharing any examples of campaigns that you like from competitors
- Sharing highly specific feedback on the designer’s work. For instance, instead of telling the designer to “make it brighter”, you could tell them which specific parts of the design you find dull and why. There could be different supplies the artist is using which you would prefer them not to use, or to use, which you could make clear. For example, whether you prefer they use helpers from sites like drawinglightbox.com, to create the perfect traced drawings rather than freehand.
Working with freelancers can be frustrating, especially since they’re not full-time employees and don’t understand your product as well. But if you persist with it and follow the above tips, you’ll get some spectacular results without burning a hole in your wallet.
- Look in the right places
One of the absolute worst places to find a designer is to post your job on mainstream job boards like Monster and Indeed. While these certainly have the volume of candidates you might be looking for, they offer no real tools to evaluate designers. Worse, the quality of candidates can be all over the place. Unless you have a lot of experience hiring designers (or know someone who does), it is easy to get overwhelmed and make wrong decisions.
The solution is to look for candidates on platforms that are designed specifically to attract designers. This includes:
- Niche job boards such as Workamajobs which target creatives and the agencies who hire them.
- Portfolio platforms such as Behance and Dribbble. Not only are these popular with creatives, they also host portfolios which can help you evaluate designers’ skills.
- Design-specific newsletters and communities such as DesignNews, Reddit’s r/Design, etc. These communities often have fewer candidates, but the quality can be much higher.
Finding designers isn’t easy. Finding good designers who understand your product can be almost impossible. But if you adopt a smart approach and follow the tips outlined above, you will find the perfect designer for your project.