Join Lauren Bacon for an in-depth discussion in this video Highlighting your problem-solving skills, part of Planning a Web Design Portfolio: Getting a Job.
- Good design solves problems. It's not just decoration that is making things pretty, especially when we're talking about commercial Web design. There are specific goals your client wants to reach. Your job as a designer is to support them in meeting those goals. So employers aren't just looking for people with a good eye, they're looking for people who know how to solve problems. I can't emphasize this enough. When I'm interviewing designers, I'm not looking for the person with the most polished portfolio or who has the most obsessive attention to typographic detail; those things are important, but they're not as important as someone who knows how to listen and who knows how to collaborate creatively to find solutions to business problems.
What I've found over and over again, and I've heard many other employers echo these sentiments, is that it's much easier to train someone on technical skills than it is to to train them on becoming a better listener or problem solver. I'll happily pay for someone to take some Photoshop courses or buy them a library of books on kerning and hand lettering. That kind of knowledge is relatively easy to acquire so long as you have a general aptitude for it and an interest in the subject matter. But problem solving ability and listening skills are harder to teach.
They're the kind of things that I look for in an interview setting because they're so critical to performing a design job well. So from a prospective employer standpoint, the value of having someone with great problem-solving abilities on your team cannot be overstated. Not only does it mean you can entrust projects to your designer without having to manage every step of the process, but it also increases your trust that those projects will be completed to everyone's satisfaction. If you hire someone simply for their technical skills, there's always a risk that their manager is going to have to shoulder a heavy workload directing their work, which doesn't make for very efficient hire.
That's why the employers I know will take a brilliant problem-solver with a gap in technical skills over a technical wiz without problem-solving chops any day. Now, a few moments ago, I said that problem-solving skills are something I look for during an interview, but you can actually demonstrate these skills in your portfolio as well. So let's talk about how you might do that.
- Conveying your personality through your portfolio
- Highlighting your problem-solving skills
- Demonstrating range
- Conveying your skill level
- Avoiding pitfalls