Beyond understanding your own skills, you need to also think about how your skill sets translate to the needs of an organization. At the end of the day, you’ll be hired to solve another company’s pain point that they are not able to solve themselves. These pain points vary, but there’s some consistency depending on the company’s maturity.
Smaller companies, such as startups for instance, can’t afford to hire many designers, so they typically bring in a senior generalist to start. Typically this designer will have a strong grasp of interaction design and research, and some visual design skills. They’ll help establish a design direction for the company and ship product, while integrating design process into the product development cycle.
Figure: Assessing Design Team Skills
As companies grow, they start to fill out the rest of the pillars based on need.
As the company grows, specialized roles get brought on, such as brand designers, visual designers, researchers, and content strategists. As a team, their diversity and specialized talents allow them to create products that are of high quality.
If the company starts rapidly scaling, typically more and more designers get brought on with similar skill sets. At that point it’s important to hire more people because there’s more work than any one designer could do. Sometimes these roles might get filled by contractors if it’s a temporary project or if recruiting is lagging behind. At other times, if growth is continuous, more full-time employees are brought on. By understanding where the company is in its growth cycle and their current pain points, you can match yourself appropriately.