Prioritizing Career Growth



Updated October 11, 2023
Land Your Dream Design Job

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.

As you can see, the modern designer possesses a tremendous amount of knowledge about various aspects of design. If you’re starting out in your career, don’t worry, you don’t need to know everything all at once! Naturally, there will be some areas you’ll gravitate toward and enjoy, and others where you may need to pay extra attention in order to improve.

If you’re an entry-level designer, the core expertise and strength that you should bring to your team lies in your craft. This means you should be spending more of your time on the tactics and execution, getting stronger and faster with production. How companies determine your level of craft will vary and this is a good conversation to have with your manager. But in general you’ll probably want to hone in on your interaction design and visual design skills. When you have the basics down, you should pay attention to execution and strategy. All of these things take time, so don’t stress out if you don’t feel like you’re growing as fast as you’d like. It usually takes a couple of tries on multiple projects to improve your skills.

As a senior designer, your work will be more strategic. You may not be pushing the pixels as much day-to-day, but you’ll find yourself in meetings and strategy sessions. You’ll be responsible for leading the team toward new ideas and innovations on par with your product manager and engineering lead.

There are of course exceptions to these rules. In larger companies, for instance, there are dedicated specialist roles for visual designers, interaction designers, and motion designers If you’re working at a small company or a startup, you might find yourself stepping into strategy more often than not, and doing the design, while also running research studies and maybe even coding some of the concepts yourself. For some designers, this can be a nightmare. Others will relish the opportunity to do multiple things at once and learn a lot. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what’s the best fit.

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