GUEST ARTICLE by Tyler Travitz –If you would like to write for GDB, contact me.
1. You’re way too outdated
If you’re running CS2 on a 2003 iMac, it probably means one of two things:
You can’t keep up. The communications industry moves at the speed of light, and if you can’t keep up, get out of the way because your shop isn’t going to last long.
You aren’t willing to invest in your business. If you’re not willing to invest in the hardware that keeps your business running, you probably aren’t willing to invest in the people that keep your business running either.
I realize that for small businesses the cost of new technology can be prohibitive. That said, due to the nature of this industry, we are required to be as close to cutting edge as possible in order to provide optimal value to our clients.
2. Time to get paid (I won’t work before I’m hired)
Some shops have a terrible practice of administering “tests” to “see if you can handle the work/pace” as part of their interview process. It typically involves designing or coding something. This is unacceptable. First of all, my portfolio provides you with all of the information that you need to make a hiring decision. Secondly, these “tests” have nothing to do with you wanting/needing to learn more about my work or me, and everything to do with you being short-staffed or under a tight deadline. You’re trying to get work out of me for free. If you want me to do work for you, hire me, and then we’ll get down to business.
3. Silos are for farms (I want diversity!)
I’ve seen more than one company try to hire a designer / developer to work on a single account. They have a number of designers, but one works on Acme Technology and the another works on Acme Beauty. I want to be able to work on multiple accounts. I want to work for a company that inspires creativity and encourages cross-disciplinary pursuits, not one that silos me into one account. Nothing stifles creativity quite like working on the same thing day-in day-out.
4. XBOX in the break room is not a real “benefit”
Don’t get me wrong, I love XBOX (and pool tables, and foosball tables). I also appreciate companies that encourage play at work, as it can be welcomed stress relief and can stimulate creativity; that said, I am a professional. As such, I expect to be compensated like a professional, including real benefits. Minimum benefits include: Paid Time Off / Sick Days, a 401k, and Health Insurance. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in Dental, Eye and a gym membership or maybe flex time, but the basics must be there. If you want to recruit and retain top talent, you have to be competitive in this area. An XBOX is a perk, not a benefit.
5. Social ME-dia
Let’s be honest, everyone uses social media for self-promotion, and to a certain extent, that’s perfectly acceptable. However, social media is supposed to be… well, social. There needs to be interaction. So, if you’re using social media strictly as a one-way broadcast to promote your awards won or product launches, then you don’t get it. If you don’t get social media, you can’t provide valuable expertise to your clients. We understand, you win awards–Awesome. But what are you adding to the conversation? Instead of focusing on what’s going on with your agency, post a link to another company’s great work. Provide commentary. Participate in a Tweetup. Share an article. Post a case study or a tutorial.
In short, add value.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous. It’s great that you have partners/principles that speak at conferences and colleges, win awards and are industry thought-leaders.
I want to work for a company that has those kinds of people because it provides learning and networking opportunities. What’s not great is when their egos get in the way of the creative process or the business’ success. If they micromanage or take a “my way or the highway” approach, they are hindering the team environment, limiting creativity, and hindering the potential of the firm to grow. Instead, they should use their expertise and talent to help employees learn and grow.
7. The assembly line approach
Design is just as much about planning and strategy as it is the actual work of design. I want to be included in the entire creative process, from idea inception to planning to execution. Too many companies have adopted an assembly line approach to design. The concept starts with a creative or an art director. It moves to the info architecture gurus and usability experts, and then the designers finally get a look. Designers should be need to be involved in all parts of the creative process to ensure a better, more-cohesive result. If you’re looking for someone who knows Photoshop and push pixels around a screen, keep looking. I want to contribute to the entire creative process, and I want a company that wants me to contribute.
If the web is your business and you have a terrible website, I do not want to work for you. Design firms are in the business of shaping brand identities and images. If you can’t manage your own brand/image, why would a client trust you with theirs? I sometimes see websites that read “We’re too busy helping clients to work on our site”. I don’t buy it. This goes back to #1; you simply don’t recognize the importance of investing in your business. If you want to attract top talent, you need a well-designed, highly usable website. Plain and simple.
Wrapping it up. Now it’s your turn.
This is my short list of reasons not to work for a design firm. Have I missed something? Are these expectations realistic? Do you agree/disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.