Top tips for recruiting a design team

Attracting the right creative is not easy. You need to be tactical to bag the best.

By Amanda Salter

As a practicing design consultancy, we treat recruitment like a project – create a vision, plan a strategy, focus on goals.   

Here are our top tips for recruitment success:

1.     Pick the right mix of skills and levels of seniority

Don’t pin your hopes on one supersonic creative. We’ve been in the industry a long time and have only met a handful of truly multi-skilled individuals. For example, many organisations are seeking someone who can do UX design, visual design and coding to the same speed and standard as three people who specialise. Yes, they do exist but they’re almost as elusive as a unicorn.

Instead, choose ‘T’ shaped people, who combine a depth of skill in one area with a real desire to collaborate across disciplines. Aim for a seniority pyramid structure – one senior to many juniors. This puts the guidance in place to help your juniors grow. Without leadership, you’re lining yourself up for hours of handholding when your time could be spent more effectively elsewhere.

2.     Proactively go out and look for candidates

The best creatives are unlikely to be actively looking for work right now. They’re already employed working miracles for someone else. So you’ll need to approach them directly with a pitch that hits the spot.


  • Research potential candidate’s profiles and portfolios
  • Identify a small number of perfect candidates. This decreases your workload dramatically because lots of candidates means lots of work for you
  • Prepare an elevator pitch before you contact them
  • Have a hook, ideally a specific concrete project that they’ll be working on. Make sure you know the detail of this project, the domain and the team they’ll be joining
  • Show how they can make a difference to the team and business


  • Approach anyone and everyone. Shout outs on LinkedIn are great to get large numbers of more junior applicants, but seniors need a different approach

3.     Foster diversity

Studies show that businesses with greater diversity perform better and are more profitable.* 

Why? Because a diverse team is a wonderful, crazy mix of ideas, contexts and backgrounds all unified by a single shared purpose – which is just what you need in the design space. So look to hire someone who is significantly different in some way to the people in your current team, and let the creativity flow.

*source McKinsey & Co

4.     Consider your applicant’s journey

As with everything in the design industry, it’s all about the experience. So treat the applicant journey in the same way as a customer journey. Who’s the target audience? What are their touchpoints with you? How do you get their attention?

If your application process is painful and disconnected, you’ll be overlooked for companies that offer a more cohesive recruitment drive. This can often happen when the people handling the applications don’t fully understand the design space and the detail of the role you’re looking to fill. So avoid going through generalist recruitment agencies or overstretched HR teams.

Find out more in this O’Reilly article How to attract and nurture design talent.

We hope these challenges and solutions help with your recruitment drive. Good luck finding the right candidate!

Rather delegate? You’re in safe hands with Newt.

Creatives sourced by creatives

They say it takes one to know one. With a combined 30 years experience as thought leaders in the design industry, we’ve worked with some of the top talent around. Our creative network covers over 200 expert Service Designers, Product Managers, UX Designers, Researchers and more – from junior to mid-level and senior.

With all this expertise at our fingertips, we decided to launch Newt Recruits – a freelance and permanent recruitment service that actually understands what makes a brilliant creative.

Find the right person for your design team

Tired of recruitment agencies who don’t understand this domain? Want to find the right talent as recommended by people who have actually worked with them and can vouch for their worth?

Newt Recruits can help.

Contact Alex Frewin on 020 3515 1030 or email to find out more


Read all the articles in this Recruitment series

Part 1 – How to build a dream design team
Part 2 – Hot design skills for 2019
Part 3 – Top three challenges in design recruitment

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