What Skills Does a Newly Qualified Designer Need?

If you’re going to graduate this year or if you’re in your first job; you’ll be wondering what you can do to improve your chances of progressing on to or up the career ladder. So what skills do you need? And is the job all about your design skills?

Become a Problem Solver

UX designers should know this by now but many other design professionals will be surprised to learn that this is your number one most important skill. Employers aren’t hiring you because you’re brilliant; they’re hiring you to fix their problems. When you hit those interviews – you need to demonstrate that your solutions, your skills, etc. are focused on solving someone’s problem.

Author/Copyright holder: Riley Kaminer. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

So when you talk about your suggested approach to information architecture, for example, you need to connect to a real business problem. You may even have to ask some questions of your interviewer to find out those problems – don’t worry about that you’ll be showcasing your ability to work in a team for a business.

Open Your Eyes to New Opportunities

There are a million (if not more) possible paths for your career. You may find, over time, that your desire to do nothing but design wanes. You may end up project managing, training, etc. instead. All of these are viable career paths and they can all be enjoyed. Don’t say no to an opportunity unless you are 100% sure that you won’t be able to enjoy them. If you get to spend 5% of your time on design – it’s 5% more than you would spend if you were working in a warehouse.

Embrace Change

Author/Copyright holder: SomeDriftwood. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

If there’s anything that employers can’t stand it’s those who spend their lives resisting change. Change for change’s sake is not always a good thing but by and large – most changes in working life are made for the good of the business. Learn to be enthusiastic about change, to understand changes fully and to promote them. This will make your working life much easier in general and start to position you for management roles where you will be proposing and implementing changes yourself.

Take Risks

You don’t need to roll the dice daily throughout your career but you do need to step outside of your comfort zone and reach for more challenging objectives. You won’t always succeed (unless you’re very lucky) but you will grow and develop. You can’t be promoted if you do your job and nothing more. Show how you can increase your value and the rewards will come your way.

Be Selective

Author/Copyright holder: Matthew Paulson. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It is so tempting when you’re looking for that first job to take the first opportunity you come across. Resist the urge to compromise on your principles or values and if your interviewer is an ass – ask yourself; do I want to work with people like this daily? It’s better to take a less attractive offer than it is to commit yourself to a miserable working life.

Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: Kokcharov. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

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