Product designer is a generic title. In companies like Facebook, regardless of seniority, everyone is a product designer and so it’s hard to understand who is senior, which level they’re at, or even what their strengths and weaknesses are. That’s why it’s important to define the type of product designer you are—one way to do so is by highlighting your own superpowers.
When we typically think of superpowers, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the mastery of a specific skill. Obviously this superpower should be highlighted, but don’t worry if you’re not there yet or if you can’t point to one skill that’s excellent.
What skills do you have that are above average? What work using those skills are you proud of? It could be something as simple as rough illustrations and storytelling. What missing skills or perspectives can you bring to a team? What’s your unique point of view? What unique experience do you have based on your previous roles?
Transferable Skills as Superpowers
Another way to get at your superpower is to look at transferable skills that you’ve employed at other jobs. Think about the past experiences you’ve had and how they’ve equipped you to understand the customer better, to collaborate, or to be meticulous in one’s craft. For example, if you’re coming to design from a different field, let’s say education, then you know how to run experiments, engage a tough audience, get everyone to participate, and manage group performance over time. If you have a degree in psychology, you understand why people do things the way they do, the complexity of human interaction, and why people, as Daniel Ariely calls it, are “predictably irrational.”
Unique Experiences as Superpowers
Your unique experiences can also be your superpower. No one has the same experience of the world as you do. Given your background, your environment, your circumstances, and your unique upbringing, there’s something different that you bring to the table. If you can’t think of a superpower—ask a friend or a colleague. The external perspective is helpful, as we sometimes don’t give ourselves enough credit. Also take a look at Heather Phillips’s article on how to find your design superpower.