When a company is hiring a designer, what do they look for? What do they expect a designer will do? What skills a designer should have?
Those are exactly the questions I will answer now, based on a data-driven analysis of job advertisements. If you want to know more about the method and what I mean by data-driven analysis, I wrote a separate article explaining it.
Design job titles: Explained
A data-driven approach to understand four design job titles: Product, UX, UI and Visual Designer. by Paulo Dziobczenski. Founder of designcareer.co
In short: Much has been said about what it means to be a Product/UX/UI/Visual designer. Many designers have written wonderful articles before. I am taking a different approach: I look at what companies say in their job advertisements.
Product Designers are generalists.
They work throughout the whole design process: They do research at the beginning to find out more about the customers’ needs, get involved in ideation, build prototypes, test it with users and oversee the implementation.
Moving to more specifics, I started counting how many times each request showed up in the data set. Here are the top 5 requests:
User Research is the Product Designers' super power, as it was present in almost all job advertisements.
Product Designers design, conduct and analyze research. Some examples:
Product Designers shape the UX of products and services.
Product Designers get their 'hands-dirty' by designing interfaces.
On top of conducting research, Product Designers also design the prototypes.
Product Designers work building design systems. A design system, by definition, is a 'a collection of reusable components, guided by clear standards, that can be assembled together to build any number of applications'.
Product Designers need to have a varied range of skills to do their jobs. For example, Product Designers need to have 'communication' to conduct research.
Think about these skills as some necessary layers (or mindsets) for designers to do their work. As you can see on the Top 5 below, not only design skills:
Product Designers rarely work alone. By working in teams, having communication skills are key for doing the job.
Product Designers need to speak business and understand how their work affect their clients' businesses.
Product Designers are designers after all, right? Fabricio Teixeira from the UX Collective already talked about how (some) designers are distancing themselves from 'craft'.
Product Designers base their design decisions on data.
Product Designers are advocate for the users. User-centered design is a method/skill to help designers put their users at the center.
Product Designers also need to carry some other skills in their skill set, such as Coding, Design Thinking, Project Management, Copywriting:
Product Designers use Sketch, Figma and InVision. More traditional tools, such as the ones found in the Adobe Creative Cloud, showed up in only 1 out of every 10 job ads.
I analyzed 50 job advertisements for Product Designers found on LinkedIn. These job ads came from 19 countries from North and South America, Europe and Asia. Some companies are very well-known (Apple, Facebook, Ford, Netflix and Paypal) while some others were new (at least to me).The full list of companies can be found here.
Product Designers do many different activities and carry skills ranging from design to business. For that reason, Product Design is not a job for entry-level professionals. It is probably better to get a hold of the many different activities and skills before moving to Product Design.
Each company is different. A company hiring their first Product Designer have very different needs than one looking to hire their 100th Product Designer.
In this article, I have mentioned over 10 different skills/activities/software. But do not panic, not all companies will ask you to know it all.
To illustrate how companies might differ in their requirements, here is a comparison between some of the requests made by Apple, Facebook, Ford, Netflix and Paypal in a Product Design position.
As you can see, companies might emphasize some skills more than others when hiring. The recommendation here is to spend some time researching the companies you are interested and what they are looking for. Which skills do they look for? Then make sure to build those skills and not all the possible skills :)