You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Over the course of writing this book, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we get work done (and how we interview) has shifted dramatically. The journey has been redefined. Gone are the days of in-person interviews—now you can talk to many companies all from the comfort of your home.

Of course this brings new challenges. It’s hard to get a feel for a place when all you see is a bunch of faces in rectangles on Zoom. Networking is no longer an in-person affair but has been pushed online as well. Maybe location isn’t as critical as we once thought. If we can get our job done remotely, especially in the midst of a pandemic, then this can usher in a whole new world of flexible work arrangements, opening up opportunities outside of the traditional tech hubs of the world.

When Should You Start Looking?

A common question that I sometimes get from folks who are already working is, “What’s a good number of years to stay at a job before you start looking?” Ideally, you’re in a place long enough to make an impact, and you outgrow the position or the company. There’s nothing left to learn, there’s not a clear or appealing path to growth, and you may see a more fruitful opportunity elsewhere. Sometimes this means being at a job for a few months, other times it means working at the same place for a decade.

Of course there are exceptions to this. The company may be doing poorly, is downsizing, or it has a toxic environment that wasn’t apparent during the interviews. This could all happen, and there’s no imperative to stay at a company that doesn’t invest in you. Today’s world offers designers a lot of challenges to address. The trick is to find the right alignment given your strengths and needs.

In her excellent book, Ask Me This Instead, Kendra Haberkorn recommends candidates ask themselves why they would want to run away from a particular job. Sometimes these reasons can be obvious. Other times you might need to do a little soul searching to think about what you value in work and see if these values have changed since you last searched for or accepted a job.

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