How to Succeed in the Era of the “Hybrid Designer”
How to Succeed in the Era of the “Hybrid Designer”
How to Succeed in the Era of the “Hybrid Designer”
By Sophia Ahn and Darralyn Rieth February 22, 2018

With innovation on the rise, the demand for designers is higher than ever. We spoke with Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, about how designers can ride this wave to find a fulfilling job, get ahead, and get paid. 

At TCG, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the creative industry. What are the key emerging trends designers need to know?

There is a shortage of talent! Most hiring managers are having difficulty finding the skills they’re looking for, especially in the digital space. According to the research we did with AIGA last year, 71 percent of creative and marketing professionals that we surveyed said the demand is there, but there’s not enough talent to meet the needs of their organization.

And salaries are on the rise for those individuals. You can see that in our 2018 Salary Guide. It’s the law of economics—demand is high, supply is low, and so starting salaries for those with digital expertise are increasing.

Some of the most lacking skills that were specifically cited include data science, web and user experience design, content creation and content marketing, SEO and SEM, and pay-per-click marketing.

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What does this mean for designers?

The rules have changed. There was a time when you needed to be a specialist to do web and user experience design. Now, “hybrid designers” can think of how design transcends print and product and out-of-home and digital and online.

In our research, we found the top areas creative teams would like to hire are web design and production and print design and production. But even if a designer is applying for a job that doesn’t require the ability to code, if they can gain that skill, it makes them that much more marketable.

Do you have any other tips for designers looking to stay competitive in today’s world?

I have to say, there’s never been a better time to be in design. Organizations are looking to be progressive, adaptive, innovative, and ever moving forward, at faster speeds than before. And those same organizations are looking to do this with designers who can help them through that journey—designers who can grow with the company.

But designers must be willing to adapt their own skill set and mindset. Organizations are looking for people who are willing to put in the work to get ahead—you have to network, join AIGA, stay on top of industry trends, learn new skills, and challenge the old way of doing things. Volunteering for innovative projects and putting yourself out there will demonstrate soft skills and a desire to innovate.

Are there any takeaways for design-focused companies?

Innovation stems from the fact that creativity is the lifeblood of the most successful people who are satisfied in their jobs. The freedom to innovate is what allows people to avoid career stagnation and help invent the future for themselves and their companies.

In a survey by our parent company, Robert Half, 87 percent of workers said that they consider a company’s reputation of being innovative when evaluating a career opportunity. In other words, it’s critical that organizations position themselves as forward thinking.

Speaking of forward thinking, you’re sponsoring a new AIGA program called Design Career Compass. Tell us more about it.

We partnered with AIGA to launch INitiative back in 2012, and we’re so proud of the progress we’ve made to provide resources and support to in-house designers.

But beyond in-house, we felt that there was an opportunity for us to serve the broader AIGA community. That’s why we’re launching Design Career Compass. Three main goals for the program include: helping managers attract and retain top creative talent, helping job seekers find fulfilling jobs and advance their careers, and helping AIGA members at all levels develop their leadership skills. Consider it a 360-degree view of a career.

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Tags INitiative innovation