My Year in Design — 2021. As another year comes to a closure, I… | by Pedro Canhenha | Jan, 2022


Job Market. People change jobs for a variety of reasons, and this year the term “The Great Resignation” got coined, since so many professionals, across many different industries decided to leave their jobs, and pursue/embark on new challenges and opportunities (well of course some had no choice, since many businesses also ended their operations, or there were simply layoffs due to the economy’s slow recovery process). There were (and still are), countless articles written about the “Great Resignation”, some of which I listed on my weekly Design, Innovation and Technology newsletter, not to mention, many candidates/professionals actually wrote about their application and interview experiences on Linkedin. I also had an opportunity to write about this topic, but focused specifically on Recruiting for Product Design.

Nonetheless and considering some of the conversations I was fortunate enough to have, both as a hiring manager and also as a candidate, here are some of the observations and statements I’ve distilled from what is currently taking place.

For employers: as much as it can pain to go through resumes, make sure you know who you’re talking to. That means, don’t show up for interviews ill prepared, or without having looked at someone’s resume, and in the case of a Designer, their portfolio. Be professional and polite in how you address your applicants, which means, don’t text, don’t share private jokes with colleagues, particularly when your applicant is doing a presentation, don’t dismiss or abruptly interrupt people when they’re talking. Make sure you prepare your interview and your panel of interviewers according to the candidates and positions you’re interviewing for, which means, depending on the seniority of the candidate, select a panel who will be able to ask pertinent questions but also answer in depth questions posed by the candidate. For organizations of a certain dimension, who are all about making sure people tick certain checkboxes, make sure you understand what is it that you’re looking for, which means, are you wanting candidates to regurgitate canned responses based on parameters you deem acceptable and that you believe marry your culture, or do you actually want to hear how people work, solve problems and relate to others. If and when you perform tests, if that is indeed the case, be clear about the interview process, and pay people for their effort (don’t expect people to work for free). Finally, don’t ghost candidates. Even in cases where there’s obviously not a good fit, be professional enough to promptly let your candidate know that he or she is not a good fit. Ignoring people, extending the interview process for months, or sending an email 4 months after the interview process has taken place, is not only at that point completely useless, but also further damages the perception that company has with that candidate, sometimes permanently. Oh, not to mention with platforms such as Glassdoor, Twitter, or even Linkedin, this is the type of behavior that gets called out for, and justifiably so, ultimately damaging the company’s reputation. Sending an automated response, no matter how disappointing it can be for the candidate, it also serves the point of closing that engagement, allowing for the candidate to move on.

For candidates: create compelling and well written resumes. Resumes that are well structured, tell a story and have the information required clearly communicated. Being able to be succinct is paramount, but just as importantly, make sure the resume has your point of view clearly communicated. Resumes are the first opportunity people have to interact with candidates. Having an impactful, properly formatted document speaks volumes about that candidate. Prepare for your interviews, which means, make sure you know what the position you applied for entails, what is the story behind the Organization. Also, learn more about the people you’ll be talking with. Being aware of your audience always allows for the conversation to be potentially focused on certain aspects of your experience, which you can leverage to your benefit. On this topic, also be ready to ask questions, questions that aren’t superficial, but ones that demonstrate insight, your point of view, and also illustrate your level of commitment and investment in the position itself. Be logistically savvy, which means, make sure your internet connection is working, your zoom/whereby/globalmeet/bluejeans remote conferencing product is properly working, allowing for screen sharing, and be on time and on camera. Finally, if you did a test, make sure to send the details on how to consume the test beforehand, so the interviewers have an opportunity to consume and digest what you did, before the conversation and discussion takes place. Be engaged, enthusiastic, and as I mentioned above, polite and professional (don’t badmouth colleagues, products or experiences you may have worked on or with in the past). Hopefully these are some points that resonate with everyone, particularly as the job market continues to be somewhat tightened and limited resources abound.

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