What are the criteria for companies to define exactly the level of UX/UI Designers they seek to integrate their Design Teams? Since each one has a different design maturity, in most cases, the most sought after profile are the Seniors, followed by Full... and almost no vacancies for Juniors. In today's article we'll understand why this happens and what can be done for early career professionals to have the opportunity they so much seek.
The nomenclature: Juniors, Mid-levels or Seniors, obviously, is used in all areas. They are what defines if the person is in the most appropriate moment of his/her career to work in the set of tasks that each company offers when opening its vacancies, from less to more experienced. Bringing to the universe of UX/UI Design, as we said in the article How to apply to a UX/UI Designer position, The first step is to understand the tools and methodologies to achieve a deliverable — already expected from a professional junior. To recap, we define it this way:
Junior – He knows how to put his hands to work, but because of his inexperience, he needs help to complete tasks.
Mid-level – He is able to perform efficiently all roles and tasks, but needs leadership and guidance to stay on track.
Senior – Solves complex problems without help and can guide other less experienced people.
With these different levels well defined, we understand that in practice the human behavioral factor is what makes all the difference in the qualification of a more experienced UX/UI Designer. We are talking about Soft Skills: collaboration, empathy, emotional intelligence, oratory skills, leadership, self-management, among others. These are the skills that best determine the level of maturity, above the practical skills. Therefore, understanding that "knowing how to do" is not a barrier, companies may be considering very experienced professionals to perform tasks that often could be covered by the least experienced. Listed below are some examples of advantages to consider hiring Juniors:
UX/UI Designers can never be considered as just workforce. The structure of what is doing UX/UI Design already demands much more than this, and even this is one of the factors that has attracted more people to this area. As said by the staff of UX Collective, "UX Designers are thinkers as much as they are producers". For us, this point transcends levels of maturity. So consider that the cost of several "beginners thinkers" can be equal or less than that of only 1 more experienced.
We know that the known giants are the apple of the eyes of the most experienced professionals. But there are many companies that still don't have such a design maturity, or the necessary budget for the composition of a star team. In this case, it may be more interesting to look for more newly graduated professionals, to be under the leadership of fewer Seniors. With time and a good UX strategy, this team can mature and grow with a remarkable solidity, gaining the confidence of the company by having much more evangelists.
In many cases, we see UX/UI Seniors giving up their jobs because they are performing less strategic and more operational tasks, causing them to lose their motivation. In teams formed just by seniors, in due time, there will be discomfort in the day-to-day work, and constant questioning of leadership. Having a more mixed team, seniors are able to perform their role well without the project losing its rhythm and the deliverables being compromised, since the productive part can be in the hands of the less experienced (as long as they are properly advised).
Naturally, the experience of a Full and Senior makes them stop performing a series of tasks. Note that these tasks can be done by juniors who bring several relevant factors that boost their performance, and automatically, the quality and speed of the project:
For larger companies, it is common for the first UX/UI Designers to be hired to be more experienced. Not simply because they already know how to do it (for having already done it many times), but so that they can lead the change of culture in the company, since UX will gradually become a relevant department for the whole business. This process is long, difficult and requires a lot of resilience from the team. Soon, over time, the role of these more senior designers will be to raise increasingly difficult challenges, making the company's UX capacity grow as a whole, bringing results and carrying this culture forward.
With that, they will have to create their growth strategy, so they can delegate their initial tasks to a team that gives continuity to the deliverables in the same rhythm and quality.
To make a Design Team grow, you must, first of all, have a well designed and solid work model coming from the department leadership. This model must necessarily follow the reasoning that Hiring is part of the UX Strategy, that is, this strategy must foresee the moment to hire, and define well who to hire. But how to do this without losses?
It is at this moment that companies choose to hire only full or senior professionals, under the premise that people with little (or no) experience may jeopardize the team's delivery. But, as said before, they do not consider the fact that more experienced professionals tend to lose focus, productivity and excitement when they are faced with the immense production work that awaits them, and there is no time left for them to exercise what they most want to do. By giving new junior members the opportunity, the team can organize itself so that the full professionals lead them, while the seniors can invest the time and dedication necessary to overcome the most difficult challenges.
It is important to note that an internal structure for training people is recommended. With such structure, the team will be able to develop solidly, allowing a scalability that makes the production remain at the right pace with satisfactory delivery constantly, considering that each professional level is performing well its individual role. For this reason, it becomes important to start hiring people who are at the beginning of their careers. They will have less skills, knowledge and experience than the initial team members hired; they may have just left Bootcamps or may have only a few years of limited work experience; but by joining the Design Team as apprentices, they will surely bring their entire production force and willingness to learn, overvaluing every challenge and opportunity assigned to them.
Plan the growth of your Design Team considering the variability of the professional levels. This way, besides giving opportunities to less experienced professionals; it is possible to maintain production speed and quality, allowing full and senior staff to perform their more strategic activities.