There comes a point in every designer’s life when it’s time to look for a new gig

moutain
Photo of a woman in a baseball cap on a ledge looking out over a river between 2 mountains

That new position may be a promotion. It may be a hop to another company. It could be due to a downsize and a layoff. Or your role may have shifted into something you’re not passionate about, or that isn’t giving you the opportunity to grow professionally. Regardless of the reason, you can’t stay in the same role your entire life. (Well I guess you could, but where’s the fun in that?!)

When the time to jump strikes, and you’re ready to start searching, the job application process can be completely paralyzing.

Why? Because if you flip through designer job postings you’ll encounter bulletpoint requirements ranging from Graphic design to interaction design to front end development to user research to usability testing, IA and content strategy. What’s the result of this crazy range of requirements? Designers suddenly feel under qualified.

I had a chat tonight with someone who works at a huge corp. In the past year the person grew their design program from nothing to a fully functional design thinking focused org. This person is a legit rockstar.

Unfortunately their team was axed during a huge layoff, so this person was put in a position in which they could either accept a role building out a brand new product team in another division from scratch, including creating their entire design system, workflows and processes, or the person could take a few weeks severance and search for a new job.

This extremely experienced, incredible designer told me that they were feeling inadequate and not skilled enough to take the position. They also expressed feeling the same when they reviewed other job posts. I was STUNNED.

They said they didn’t have enough experience in all of the other areas of design to feel comfortable taking on the gig.

So here’s the thing. There are about 3 people in the entire design industry that are truly experts in every single area of design.

It’s crazy to expect that of any one human. If a company is looking for a single generalist who is an expert in every area of design, they’re nuts. At best people who specialize and have adequate knowledge in other areas will apply, and possibly kick out some rapid studying and learning to polish areas they’re weak in.

Experts in some areas of design with tons of experience in their specialty are feeling the same way that new and intermediate designers feel looking at new job descriptions.

Seeing all of those requirements tossed together makes a majority of people applying for the same jobs you’re looking at, even veterans, feel just as under qualified as you feel. Especially veterans who’ve been using older tech and languages. Don’t let it get you down.

If you’re really passionate about a gig with a wild job description, apply and then clarify the daylights out of the job requirements when you get into the interview.

Be clear about your existing skill set and the areas you hope to grow in during your interview.

Sometimes companies just rattle off a grocery list of buzzwords they’ve seen other companies use in their job requirements list without actually understanding what they mean.

Next up on the job application fear list: There will almost ALWAYS be something in the job requirements list that would push you professionally and that’s a GOOD thing. When you’re looking for a new job, don’t apply for a job doing only the things you’re amazing at.

If there is nothing in the job description that you’re a little uncomfortable with, you’re not applying for the right job.

Career progress takes professional growth opportunities.

If you’re always the most skilled designer in the room, you’ll never grow.

Apply for jobs that will help you reach your long term professional goals, not jobs that will only allow you to do the things you’re already extremely skilled at.

Last up, unfortunately for people in our industry, when you come into a company at an entry level salary, it can be nearly impossible to get an internal pay raise that matches your skill set once you’ve really grown professionally and gained more experience.

There are of course exceptions to this rule, but a majority of the time you need to job hop to land a raise that aligns with your enhanced skill set.

Obviously money is never the most important aspect of a job (unless you really need it), but being paid less than you’re worth is a garbage situation.

If you really like your team, give your company the opportunity to resolve the salary issue, but if they refuse, start searching for other opportunities.

The tech industry is a little weird in that job hopping is seen as normal behavior. A year or two at a company at the beginning of your career followed by a jump is the norm.

I could ramble on all night about this topic, but I’m going to wrap things up here.

Don’t get overwhelmed, just embrace the fact that you’ll never know everything there is to know about design — none of your peers ever will either.

It’s part of the fun of being a designer — you have to be firmly set in a lifetime leaner mindset to succeed.

Apply for jobs that will allow room for professional growth, not jobs you’re already an expert in.

Always push yourself. No one can move your career forward other than you, so own it.

If you’re willing to put in the time and hard work, the sky is the limit.

How to Land an Interview: Advice From InVision’s Recruiting Team

kristopher-roller-188180-unsplash

I get asked often what it takes to have a standout application when you’re applying at InVision, and what traits recruiters look for since they’re hiring for remote job opportunities. The hiring process at InVision has changed GREATLY since I interviewed here. Back then we only had 50 employees, so my interview was a chat with the director that contacted me about the job, then a chat with 2 VP’s then a chat with Clark himself, which I’ll fully admit was incredible. He’s just as awesome to talk to 1:1 as he comes across in interviews.

So, since I don’t have anything to do with our hiring now, but I know it’s something the community is really interested in learning more about, I sat down with some of our recruiters and hiring managers to find out what they look for when they’re reviewing candidates. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and there are always differences in opinion, but these are some common themes that came up during the conversations.

Here are some tips to get you started:

If you’re applying for a designer position, do not submit a hideous generic resume and CV.
You’re a designer, use your skills to make your resume and CV stand out from the rest of the crowd.

For the love of all things holy, don’t submit an export of your LinkedIn profile as your resume.
I had no idea that was a thing, but it is. The team here is hardworking, driven, and proud of the work we turn out as a result. Half-assery in your resume and CV are a no. Lack of effort in even applying here is a surefire sign that this isn’t the company for you. Same goes for Indeed.

Make sure your portfolio is up to date. Update it BEFORE submitting your application.
Many people applying at InVision haven’t applied for a job in years, they’re just so excited about the company that they’re giving it a shot, even if they’re happy where they are. I love it. And I get it. I haven’t touched my portfolio in about 900 years either, but having an out of date hideous portfolio will get you axed immediately. Clean it up and show what you can really do. It’s your one chance to stand out and make a great first impression. Make your mark.

Give recruiters and hiring managers access to view your resume and portfolio. 
This completely blows my mind, but sometimes people submit portfolio links that are password protected (no big deal, people sometimes don’t want their current companies to know they’re applying elsewhere), but then they DON’T PROVIDE THE PASSWORD. 😑 I figured it was rare, but I’m told they come across it daily. 😬 Our recruiters are sifting through 1000’s of resumes and portfolios, it would be horrible if you were cut because you forgot to send your password. And don’t get me wrong, if there is someone who seems like an absolutely perfect fit based on resume, they may still take the time to fire off an email asking for your PW, but if your application was on the fence, this will push it into the rejection pile. Also, make sure you submit the right cover letter—several recruiters mentioned getting cover letters that were meant for other companies. 😬

Sending a resume that isn’t tailored to the job description at all is not a good plan. 
Don’t include a bunch of random skills that aren’t applicable. Skilled in Microsoft Office? That’s awesome if you’re applying for a role that requires that skillset. But if you’re applying for a design position, it’s not something you need to list in your things I’m amazing at section. Think of the recruiter as someone looking for a needle in a haystack. If you want to be that needle, you need to make sure you shine way brighter than the rest so they can find you. Related: Spell check is your friend. Add clickable links to LinkedIn, GitHub, Dribbble, etc. to the top of your resume (whichever services apply to the the job you’re applying for). Triple check your contact info, email addresses are often missing a character, phone numbers are off by a digit, triple check tiny details.

Apply for a job or 2 you’re really interested in that align with your skillset. Do NOT apply for 15 different jobs with completely unrelated skill requirements.
If you apply for roles in sales, support, engineering, design, and accounting all at the same time, it doesn’t come across in a positive way. Being excited about the company is a great. But, applying all over the place makes it look like you don’t know yourself well enough to express your skillset and areas of strength, nor do you have a career path in mind. It’s not a good look. Related: The recruiting team told me some really crazy stories about applicants having no clue what we do here and shredding their chances as a result. Research the company before you apply.

Do not ever message random InVision employees on LinkedIn that you don’t know asking them to refer you.
Have questions about what it’s like to work for InVision or about the company culture or about team structure? Fire away, those are great reasons to reach out to a random InVision employee. Asking for a referral is a no. On the flip side, if you worked with an InVision employee previously at another job and had a good working relationship, DEFINITELY reach out to them and ask if they’d be willing to refer you. It helps the recruiting team to be able to ask an internal team member questions about you, especially if they’re on the fence about your application.

If you have past work experience that seems like it doesn’t apply, MAKE it apply. 
Flipped burgers at a fast food joint? Add a line about how it increased your ability to manage customer expectations in a high paced, intense atmosphere. Your past work experience has made you into who you are today. Explain how in a way that is applicable to the job you’re applying for. Don’t just rattle off a list of job responsibilities, frame them as achievements. You can accomplish incredible things in any role—highlight those.

Don’t send a resume that is 987349875 pages long. 
These recruiters are scanning. Sending a 12 page resume doesn’t make you look impressive, it makes it look like you have issues communicating concisely. I was told that 1 page for every 5–7 years of work experience is a good rule of thumb. Additional resume tips: List your most recent work experience first and go backward in time from there. List the month and year you started and stopped working for each previous employer. Even though you’re applying for a remote role, list your location. Some of the remote roles have time zone requirements. And PDF’s are the best format choice for resume submissions.

If the job you’re applying for is focused on measurable goals, include numbers and stats that reflect the impact you’ve had in previous related roles. 
Example: Worked on a homepage redesign that increased customer conversations by 25 percent. Going for a sales role? Include details like the number of accounts you managed, account values, quota attainment percentages, etc.

Inject your personality into your resume, CV and portfolio.
Who are you? Obviously you can’t write a novel, so SHOW who you are. Real humans are reviewing all of these applications at InVision, you aren’t getting tossed into an application sifting program. Think of your portfolio and your resume as a reflection of yourself.

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while so your projects aren’t recent, just explain that and show something you’ve worked on recently for fun in addition to your previous work.
People have to leave the workforce for periods of time for a wide variety of reasons, it’s no big deal. Just make sure you’re representing yourself fully.

If you worked on a project and it was terrible, don’t include it.
You want to put your best foot forward. Your portfolio doesn’t need to contain every single project you’ve ever done, it needs to contain the best ones, that show what you can really do. Save talking about train wrecks for the interview process, since it’s often a question managers ask.

In your cover letter, make it clear that you’re passionate about working here.
If your cover letter sounds like a generic one you found on the web, it will seem like you don’t actually want the job. Inject your personality, and tell why you think InVision is a great fit for you personally, and what we’re doing that excites you enough to make you want to join the team. What about the company mission resonates strongly with you? Some people think including a cover letter is old school, but several recruiters told me that they ran across resumes that were just ok, but then they read the cover letters and were blown away. Think of it as an extra chance to explain why you’re a great fit. Also, if you’re applying for a job that is a big shift from your current industry and/or career path, the cover letter is your chance to explain it. We have had 2 team members here who were chefs in their last life. Use your cover letter to really sell your worth and explain how you’ll use your skillset to create value.

 

The next question I’m usually asked is, “What kinds of traits do hiring managers look for?” Since I’m not a hiring manager I asked around to find out. These were the common theme:

You need to be a self starter.
Working at a fully distributed company means you have to be able to push YOURSELF forward. You’ll have a great team behind you as well, but there won’t be someone standing over your shoulder pushing you to get your work done at 100% quality. You need to have the personal drive to keep yourself accountable and on top of your game.

You need to be able to ask for help when you need it. 
Again, there isn’t someone sitting next to you watching you struggle, if you get stuck, you need to be able to swallow your pride and reach out to someone for assistance. (This is something that is SO hard for me, both in my personal life and my professional life. Working remotely has really helped me grow in this area.)

You need to have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Now, this one varies in weight depending on the role you’re applying for. I’m an introvert, but I’m able to communicate clearly and concisely when I’m writing. It’s a huge plus working at a company where a majority of our interaction happens over Slack, InVision, and in Zoom conference calls.

You need to be a team player.
At InVision our culture is one of supporting one another. It shows in everything from our team meetings, to the tools we use, to our charity donation matching, to the way the team comes together to support coworkers in crisis. A few examples: A co-worker lost her house in a fire, and within hours there was a GoFundMe set up by a teammate with InVision employees donating $, in addition to sending clothing and care packages. Two of our team members were stuck in Puerto Rico during the last major hurricane due to cancelled flights. Team members came together as a group to find passage for them to get out just before the storm hit, calling in favors from friends and family who work in the airline industry. My daughter ran into a really scary health issue last year, and a coworker immediately put together a GoFundMe to buy her an Apple Watch for fall monitoring. InVision just has a truly incredible, team oriented work culture. We work cross departmentally often. Sometimes people come from cut throat environments where they’re used to people having to throw knives to succeed. That’s not our thing. People here work hard to help each other succeed, and pitch in when help is needed. If you’re a “Me” person and not a “We” person, the company culture at InVision probably won’t be a good fit for you.

I hope these tips help, and that you decide to apply!

Sending the most enormous thanks to Jackie Velasquez-Ross, Julie Rathert, Frank Coppola, Amber Henry, Diane Thorburn, Kerri McKinney, Makenna Barley, Lorena Martinez, Clay Cook, Josh Brown, and Kristin Walshe for taking time out to provide these fantastic tips! You’re so very appreciated! ❤

You can check out our job listings and apply at: http://www.InVisionApp.com/jobs