This phrase strikes either optimism or fear, and sometimes both into most business owners looking to expand their business, especially in the creative department. How do you know if a candidate is qualified? Did they go to a reputable institution? What exactly should I look for in a graphic designer?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you begin the hiring process for a great graphic designer:
1.) Know what you’re hiring for.
If you are hiring a print designer, look for a print designer. If you want someone who can code websites and already has a great deal of design experience, be very up front with your expectations. Transparency in job postings for creatives will help to reduce the number of unqualified applicants. Be very specific about the skillsets and proficiency you desire.
2.) Throw the resume rule book out the window.
When you rifle through the hundred plus resumes you get, stop looking at them like all your other resumes. You’ll know a good designer without reading a word on the page.
It’s been my experience as well that the most insignificant part of a designer’s resume is where they graduated from. Who gives a damn about where the candidate went to school? If you want more brutal honesty, I don’t care if you have a BA (Bachelor of Arts), BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), MFA (Master of Fine Arts) or degree in journalism. Okay, if you have a journalism degree, you’ll need to show me a killer portfolio, which for all intents and purposes is the deal sealer or breaker with ANY potential hire.
My stance may seem controversial and maybe even ignorant to some because there are institutions that are far more superior to others. I get that. I won’t argue it. However, I invest in the individual and not their institution. If a graduate from a less well-known institution with a degree in journalism has been building and maintaining a blog site from code to content for more than three years and has a solid portfolio site, why wouldn’t I take the chance and see what they’ve got? Valid and valuable experience outweighs everything in my eyes, except the portfolio.
3.) The portfolio is the judge and jury of talent.
The beautiful (and quite honestly easy) part about hiring a designer is that during the interview, they showcase their talent and proficiency in a portfolio. With a portfolio, they will literally show you their skill level and let you judge if it’s on par with what you want or expect out of an employee. Their personality and ability to discuss their work is just icing on the cake. Just remember that art is subjective, and just because you may not like a certain style doesn’t mean the designer isn’t capable of working in another. Make sure you ask how their style varies for different projects.
Most importantly, if you’re looking too hard for a specific person or skill, you’ll skip over a large group of great people that fit the mold. Almost everyone is teachable so keep an open mind to find your best fit.