Home > User Experience > Top mistakes recruiters make when headhunting UX Designers | by Oriol Banus | Jul, 2020

Top mistakes recruiters make when headhunting UX Designers | by Oriol Banus | Jul, 2020

Top mistakes recruiters make when headhunting UX Designers | by Oriol Banus | Jul, 2020

My career advice to designers and recruiters to better work together.

It is Monday morning and you get a job alert from LinkedIn while working on a project. Later this day you go to review your inbox to find an email from a recruiter with the subject:

“Product Designer job in New York for you!”

You are thrilled because a recruiter thinks your design skills are outstanding and seems you just found your next move to success.

Then you remember you got a few more emails from recruiters during the last weeks and go on review them too. To your surprise, you find you are the lucky guy of the neighbourhood, you are about to ting the bell and win the jackpot! The subjects are something similar to these:

“We are looking for a Product Designer urgently and we think you are a good fit. Interested?”

“Exciting job opportunity in Dubai perfect for you”

You go to review one more message from a recruiter, but this one is totally hilarious:

I Bet I’m the First person to ever reach out to you with a cool opportunity?!! (🙊)

The email keeps going on:

I was totally kidding with the subject line, I’m sure you receive emails all the time. Hope you’re having a good day, I came across your profile and thought I’d reach out.

You laugh after all the reading, at least the recruiter uses humour to get your attention, but this is after all, a smoke curtain. Why do you reach out? What skills do I have that matches the business needs of the company you work for?

The following list summarises what I have learned from interviewing with big companies such as BestBuy or Lululemon and from other small companies. No big difference between size, being big doesn’t mean doing a great recruitment process or being a small startup doesn’t mean doing poorly.

But if you personally reach out to a fellow designer you must have a reason for it.

Recruiters, you can’t just sent an email to advert a random offer. This is my personal email and you are spamming me.

This is personal, if you directly approach somebody’s you better have a reason:

  • Why am I good for this particular position?
  • What got your attention from my profile?
  • Why you think this is a good match for both?

For example, If you carefully reviewed my profile you would know I have no experience on Fine-tech startups. After reading the job description I learned you are looking for some degree of experience on the field so, why are you reaching out to me?

On the other side is lots of applicants that do the same, they just apply to everything without even reading anything.

This is a bad practice too, but is a big BUT. Recruiters get paid to do their jobs and must excel on it, on the other side applicants are desperate people looking for an opportunity to improve their careers. So please don’t counter argument saying you do it because they do it.

Recruiters, make it personal

Matching talent means that recruiters should go over each individual job requirement and see if the majority of them match with a candidate profile, if they do, go ahead and send an email to the possible candidate, if don’t, please don’t bother and mess with each other’s time.

Don’t take it personal. Whether people like or dislike you, it most probably is because of your beliefs, principles, and values – Assegid Habtewold

I have talked with lots of fellow designers and we all have gone through the same path, here an example:

“Mark has been working for over two years as a product designer on a New York medical startup. He decides is time to move on to a new role and he starts looking at job offers and answering recruitment calls.

During the first month Mark is engaging in conversations with local recruiters and he feels confident about finding a new role.

After a while he realizes he is not the spoiled guy he seemed to be. All these emails almost begging him to have a conversation with the recruiters for a new shiny job are delusional.”


  • The candidate accepted to talk with the recruiter knowing that he is not a good fit for the job.
  • The recruiter does not know what are the product team expectations.
  • The recruiter and the company are just browsing around without a clear hiring goal.

Result: we all lose

Candidates feel they are not good enough and loose confidence and motivation to find a new job. In order to avoid that feeling just don’t take it personal.

Designer, know your worth and don’t put your value to somebody else hands.

How to cope with it

  • Before answering the recruiter, review the job offer.
  • Answer only if you want to take the risk of being ghosted.
  • Don’t take it personal and be patient, confident.
  • Last but not least, never ever give up.

Ghosting – the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Feedback – information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.

It is a quote that says “No answer is an answer” and it seems is very trendy today.

The ghosting usually happens in each part of the process but usually happens in two painful moments:

  • After an introductory screening chat. It tends to be a short call (30min) to get to know more about the company and the candidate’s background. It Is usually pretty amicable, less technical and more personal. After this call is when ghosting usually arises from the shadows. Following this call the recruiter shares your portfolio to the team and they evaluate if they want you to continue with the process. If the team thinks is not a match, recruiters tend to forget about you.
  • After a long and exhausting recruitment process. Design recruitment usually takes three interviews and a project, that means an average of 8 to 10 hours of work between interviews and the task completion. Finally you make it to the final round and after all the work the recruiter ghosts you. Oh yes, is painful, but I got your back fellow designer, just don’t take it personal, we all have gone through the same experience time to time.

This and is terrible, why don’t companies just say the truth, “We decided to move with a candidate with more experience on this or that” or something more vanilla like “We decided to move forward with someone that seems a better fit for this role”. A vague answer is always better than nothing.

A few more add ons:

  • Recruiter acknowledge the work done for free. Don’t forget we do it for free.
  • Say Thank you!
  • Start saying what the designer has done well.
  • If after the ghosting you still have hope, I recommend you to send a second email to see if the recruiter can send the specifics.

Rejection hurts but ghosting kill dreams.

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