Headhunter Talks Hiring Web Designers

Technical know-how and creative energy. It’s the power combo that drives the most effective marketing these days. Few marketing positions embody that blend like the web designer—which can make hiring for these spots tricky.

We spoke with Matt Self, Shyft Careers’ Chief Recruitment Officer, to chat about the challenges of hiring web designers and what employers can do to better recruit people who will take their brand to the next level.  

Hire the person, not just the skill set.

Hiring web designers may require you to dig more deeply into each candidate’s ideal workplace culture. For instance, some designers are quite protective of their creative, making them less inclined to feel positive about feedback from multiple stakeholders. Others prefer a more collaborative environment that allows them to create designs based on lots of input from supervisors, team members, or clients.

The workspace can play a role in finding the right talent, too, according to Matt. One candidate might better crank out award-winning design when they can hunker down in a quiet, private space that gets them into their zone. Another may thrive in a shared workspace that fuels them with team members’ energy and ideas.

Understanding their preferred style will help you match up with the right candidate—and avoid hiring a future disgruntled employee.   

Dig into their design chops.

Of course, you’ll need a designer with a good mix of technical skills, from expertise in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as experience with platforms like InDesign or WordPress.

But the creative side of their skillset is just as important. Online portfolios are the gold standard foundation for getting to know candidates’ creative skills.

“You can have an applicant who is fantastic with trendy designs but has no idea how to design for more corporate projects,” Matt says. And those distinctions can be critical when hiring web designers. For example, if you’re recruiting for your agency, you’ll want a versatile designer who can jump right into projects that run the gamut from conservative to edgy.

Timed tests will help you vet candidates, too.

“I wouldn’t hire a web designer without giving them a speed test. Outline a task that mirrors one they might take on if hired, and ask them to deliver their best work in 30 minutes,” says Matt. These assessments help determine whether the candidate can churn out quality work under pressure-cooker deadlines, a factor especially critical for agency teams.

Be prepared to pay for the work, however. Whether they’re a fit for your company or not, if you’re planning to use a candidate’s work as part of a professional project, it’s just good form to compensate everyone who worked on it—even someone you may or may not hire.

Recognize the subjectivity problem.

“Hiring a web designer isn’t like hiring for technology sales, where a candidate has numbers and references to back up their work,” Matt says. Design itself is subjective, making it more difficult for non-designers to thoroughly evaluate a candidate, especially if your own skills are limited to stick figures of questionable quality!

Even more challenging, two managers with web design experience can review the same candidate’s portfolio and disagree on its quality. That conflict can bring hiring to a standstill, frustrating your team and the candidates—and that can send them to the competition before you can sort out your internal issues.

Discover exceptional web designers by tapping a specialty recruiter.

Shyft Careers is headed by recruitment pros with extensive hands-on experience hiring web designers who blend technical know-how with creative energy. We will help you find and assess candidates for cultural fit, creativity, and techiness, so you can make an addition that grows your brand.

Let’s chat about finding your next rock star web designer.

Recruiting Top Talent

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