editione1.0.2Updated February 27, 2023
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.
This book is geared toward individual contributor designers who are looking to transition to their next or first role. If you’re a current manager or a manager-to-be, you may still find this information useful, but note that this material doesn’t cover manager-specific design interviews.
confusion Throughout the book, for the purpose of brevity, I use the term “product designer” as a catchall for various industry terms such as “interaction designer,” “UX/UI designer,” “experience designer,” among others.
If you’re starting out as a designer, congrats! You’re on an exciting journey. To set you up for success we’ll look into strategies for approaching the job search in a way that gives you more autonomy. I recommend paying close attention to the first part of the book, which will help you think through your ideal role based on your strengths, growth areas, and interests. Starting with the end in my mind will sharpen your senses and get the most out of your search. And of course, the book is chock full of interview examples to help you on your journey.
You may think you already know how to prepare and what to expect from interviews, having been through the process a few times. This may be true, but design expertise does not always equate to excellent interview performance. So don’t leave this to chance. Whether it’s how to represent yourself during your final presentation or how to solve design exercises without missing a beat, you can skip around to sections that you may need more practice on or are looking for ways to distinguish yourself.
Having been once a design student, I know the value of a solid education. Nothing beats dedicating the time and effort to learn design through and through. But beyond classes, few design programs help students in navigating the world post-graduation. Unfortunately, too often, students are left to their own devices. This book aims to bridge the gap between the two worlds—academia and professional practice—and will give you useful information for helping today’s students succeed in the competitive marketplace.
This book takes the approach of covering the product design job search process from beginning to end. It’s meant to be your guide throughout the process, from when you first start thinking about where you want to go all the way to how you can create your new job and get up to speed quickly—and it’s chock-full of tips in-between.
You don’t have to read the book from cover to cover. In fact I encourage you to skip around. Go to the sections that are the most relevant to you now or where you need the most help.
Part I: The Modern Product Designer. Before firing up that portfolio, it helps to first understand who you are as a designer. We’ll look into the skills and traits of today’s product designers. We’ll also do a detailed breakdown of key job characteristics you should consider for your next role. By defining your ideal role upfront, you’ll be able to tailor your application thus increasing your chances of landing the dream job.