Looking for a Rock Star Designer

As I read some job descriptions, I get the strong impression that some studios are looking for extremely ideal candidates with a wide range of equally well-developed skills.

In their ideal worldview, they want their candidate to be a divine UI designer, experienced UX analyst, user researcher, tester, brand designer, and animator at the same time!

What’s more, the smaller the company, the more desperately they are looking for a rockstar candidate — in addition to the basic skills of a UI / UX designer, they also expect the candidates to have video editing, content writing, and basic programming skills and knowledge.

But here is the logical question. Does this superhero actually need such a job position with an office in wherever the hell and a $300 salary?

The very idea that each member of the team is originally a rock star, and they are all as good as gold is utopic. Indeed, a skillset is a complex, random, and very crooked thing, and it is perfectly visible in the angle diagram of skills — for the most part, cool specialists who are great at a specific task are almost lame at some others.

Conan Doyle spoke about this through the lips of his famous Holmes, who urged Watson on with the idea that Copernicus’s scientific hypotheses have no value to his sharp mind. “The earth revolves around the sun. But this idea cost nothing in my business! “ Of course, Doyle’s hero excelled at sarcasm and trolling, but there was a message in his words: the brain is not able to effectively develop all skills at the same time. You can be either a criminal investigation genius or an ordinary person with good manners but no outstanding talents.

Another thing is that most companies want a GENIUS who solves all tasks equally beautifully, from small talk during the sale to finding a truly effective solution in the jungle of UX documentation.

Rock Band Instead of a Rock Star

In fact, such a jellyfish with an equally developed skillset does exist. This is a well-tailored team of several talents, where each member of the team is super-nerd in one thing, and they are also well versed in several other related areas. All other skills can be developed from “normal” to “better I won’t touch this” level. And if the project needs many skills at once — satisfy this need with the help of several to many polarized team members.

And a few words about the diffusion of knowledge: like a pickle in a jar, you will get salted anyway. Without panic and hysteria (since excessive and prolonged stress is the enemy of creativity), some of the strong decisions made by colleagues will find their way to your brain, pumping skills from “better I won’t” to “normal”. The only task of a good studio in this process is:

a) Hire a team covering the required skills set

b) Establish communication practices in this team so that there are no knowledge loopholes.

By the way, do you know who communicates best with each other? Someone who is able to both learn and delegate. Yes, the ability to both trust the colleagues and validate their decisions, to be both a student and a teacher, are top soft skills that the absolute majority of large teams are chasing. Collaboration is the best way to empower yourself where your competency alone is powerless.

So, here is what is needed for a slow but successful infusion into the team:

  • Explore your strengths. And help others with these tasks.
  • Accept your weaknesses. And ask others to help in these areas.

For this, it is necessary to find out where you are good, and where you need a mentor already at the interview stage. (And yes, rejection does not devalue your core competencies. Either your core skills are not needed in this team, or there is no one in this team to strengthen all the others.)

Therefore, it is much easier for me to choose employees from yesterday’s students. In 4–6 months of training, I will inevitably find out in which direction and at what speed a person is growing. At the “trainee” stage, the initial picture of skills is very blurred, the “jellyfish” is small and it moves chaotically with its branches, suddenly stretching in one direction or the other.

But every specialist has a super-skill, a pronounced trait that I encourage to grow and develop. And as for all the others — over time you will fill up, the main thing is to get into a good jar with pickles.

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