How I plan on getting a better design job this year
This is the plan I am following to get a better job for 2023
8 min read
Until 2021, I had my design agency, so I never took the time to investigate what I needed to get a better job. Last year I got a job pretty quickly coming to Canada, so I didn’t prioritize job searching, but for 2023 I want to get a better design job.
I’ll jump straight to the action plan, which I guess is what interests you if you are reading this blog post. In the end, I’ll explain what I mean by a better job if you are interested in why I am not content with my current job.
Where do I want to work?
As a designer, I can work in many places. From corporate and retail to agencies or SASS, designers are needed everywhere. That gives us an advantage over some other careers.
I love working on different projects at the same time. Mostly on websites.
I know that while I like trying new apps, I don’t care too much about SASS design. I like web design more than app design.
Also, I like taking part in each stage of the development of a product. In other words, I don’t like just doing the design; I like to see how it is coded and brought to life.
I’m not too fond of UX research. So, I am not interested in looking for a job in that niche.
What I did to understand what I liked and didn’t like was to list all the things I wanted and didn’t want in a job. With this information, it became clear that I don’t have to apply to every job in the world.
This also made it easier for me to narrow the focus on my portfolio, social media, and resume. It makes it easier for me to showcase my strengths.
Earlier in the year, I was interviewed by SASS company. In the end, they didn’t like my profile because I didn’t have enough experience working with apps - at the time, I felt bummed, but I think I dodged a bullet. I don’t think I would have been happy working on the same project for a long time.
These are the questions I used to help myself decide what type of work to look for:
Where (city) do I want to work? Remote?
What type of project do I like?
How many simultaneous projects do I like?
What type of schedule?
How much do I want to earn?
Who do I want to hang out with?
What type of company do I want to be part of
What type of design role do I want
What type of design tools do I want to use
Do I want to work solo or in a team
I want to work in a creative studio or agency with a strong focus on design.
Then I hit LinkedIn and searched all the agencies that fulfill my requirements. I ended up with a huge list.
I copied all the URLs to Notion and added a star rating.
5 stars- I’d leave everything right now if I am offered a job
4 stars- I like it a lot, but it’s not my dream job
3 stars- Only if nothing opens up on the other companies
2 stars- Better than what I have right now
1 star- got deleted.
Not all companies can have 5 stars. I limited them to the top 10 places I would love to work at.
I am also following those companies on Twitter and Instagram. And following some employees with the intent to network at some point.
I don’t know my job title
When I started designing websites, there was only one title: web designer.
A web designer would plan, design and code a website. Now, there is a specialist for each of the steps:
Back end developer
And many other titles.
Last year, when I was looking for a job, I noticed that Web designers are paid less than UX/UI designers but have the same responsibilities. I started to look into similar design titles to see where I fit best.
UX engineer feels closer to what I want, but Product Designer, Visual Designer, and UX/Ui designer are more popular titles. I am looking for those job titles.
In the design world, many titles are similar; in some cases, they mean different things from company to company but most of the time they are exactly the same thing.
I could also be a front-end developer but my impostor syndrome hits harder. So I might pass for the moment being.
I asked myself a series of questions to decide what title I was better suited for and concluded that Product designer was the best fit for what I wanted to do.
What strengths and skills do I have?
What hobbies or activities do I enjoy that could be transferable to a professional role?
What am I passionate about?
What challenges or goals do I enjoy striving for?
What do I find rewarding in my work?
What kind of job do I have experience in (proof)?
It took me a while to figure out what title best suited me. I didn’t do it alone.
Designers have another advantage over other careers. We have ADP List. ADP List is a website where you can book calls with other designers and ask them questions.
I know how the studios and agencies work back home, but I don’t know how they do it in Canada. So I booked a few calls with designers here and I asked them for advice on my job search, portfolio, and resume.
Those calls also helped me have a clearer goal and understand what each title means in their different companies.
Showcase what I have done
Updating my resume
I don’t know the difference between a resume and a CV. To me, both are synonyms. Regardless of the meaning, I needed to make a good one.
My first step was to investigate how to make CVs. There are many blogs on looking for jobs and optimizing your CV. Most focus on entry-level jobs so I couldn’t follow their advice.
Other blogs give conflicting advice so it’s hard to take them seriously.
I opened an account with Standard Resume because I found they had the best resume templates at a reasonable price. Resume templates are quite expensive on many websites.
I decided to only follow the advice of Resume Worded. I don’t know if it is the best place for resume tips but it is a site that connected with me.
Updating my portfolio
I’ll be the first to admit that it is taking forever.
Again ADP List has been an invaluable resource. Speaking with a few mentors, I realized my portfolio was (is) all over the place. I tend to give wordy explanations instead of focusing on what I want my future employer to see.
I joined UX Buddy because I wanted practical advice on how to build my portfolio. A portfolio is not a one-size fits all kind of thing, but still, it is easier to build something if you have a road map.
I would’ve loved to join Career Strategy Lab, a sort of Bootcamp for designers to learn how to get a better job, but it is beyond my current budget.
I don’t think you have to join a program to find a job, but I think they can help you learn a few things before too long.
When building a portfolio, you must remember that HR, designers, hiring staff, etc., are looking for different things:
Hiring staff - Want to fill out a checklist.
HR - Want someone who will fit in the company
Designers/boss - Want to know what you think.
The idea of the portfolio is to give them what they want quickly. They are only going to check it for a few seconds.
I am closer to a portfolio I am proud of but there is still ways to go.
Showing up and sharing my work
The most popular designers or front-end developers are vocal. They might not be the best at their craft but they have opinions and are not afraid to share them.
I find it admirable.
Throughout my career, I’ve not shared anything. This year, I will share my processes and let people see how I work. Hopefully, that will help me promote myself and help potential employers find me.
I’ll be live coding on twitch on the weekends.
What is a better job?
I don’t have a bad job right now. I am a Senior Web designer at a retail company.
But I don’t think there is room for growth for me. I have only one person above me, so if I want a better position at this company, I only have two options:
My boss quits
My boss dies
I don’t want either option, obviously. I like the guy.
I’ve also designed and coded less than I wanted to. And because it is a small company, I have to juggle many hats, which means that I have to take on many tasks that I don’t like.
I cannot plan my agenda as I would like because the challenges of yesterday are not the challenges of today. Sometimes the work we do today has to be reverted tomorrow, so it feels like it doesn’t matter. I don’t like that.
A better job, for me, is a job where I can grow where I want to grow and that gets me excited to come to work every day. A job where my work makes a difference.
Anyways, that’s my plan on getting a better job this year. I am not in a hurry I think it is more important to find something better than something different. I’ll keep you posted