Employment ads that want it all..

I’ve noticed quite a few ads - seemingly from smaller companies - that are looking for an industrial designer (ProE / Solidworks / Keyshot) plus a mchanical designer down to and including bills of material and a graphic designer (Illustrator / Photoshop / In Design) and expert physical modelmaking skills.

Truly a jack of all trades and a master of none.

How is this even remotely possible ? What has ID become ? Seems like a catch all for all things creative and all things people dont understand.

Most jobs in basically all fields want to run with bare minimum staff and maximum profits these days. Other than arguably the model making I wouldn’t really say the example you’ve specified is asking too much though.

I agree. Sounds like a pretty standard ID ad.

A larger company might be able to afford a designer to sketch and test ideas all day, and an engineer to CAD and get ready to manufacture while a graphic designer is working on new branding etc.

Smaller companies can’t afford to have a person dedicated to every task. My current and previous role the Designer(s) dabble in everything from branding, creating marketing/web/social media content, dealing with factories and suppliers, as well as the raw ID from product scoping all the way through detail for manufacture/production drawing with boms etc.

It’s true that being solely responsible for all these things is tricky. Just from a time management point of view.
Especially if you have to deal with several leaders within the company.

But a certain proficiency in the different areas is definitely important and I also don’t think it is strange that an employer would ask for skills besides sketching and CAD.
In my role, I do assume the responsibility for the ID of a product itself but I also do have to frequently deal with graphic design tasks (make presentations, place artwork on products) or create models.
I don’t have to be an expert in these things but I should have a good understanding.

Personally I think it’s great to be involved in all the different creative fields that make up a product experience. As ID, I am probably the person who knows the vision and story of the product most intimately so being part of the whole process to help carry through a cohesive story is definitely important to me.

I don’t think I would be interested in a job where I was told to only sketch all day and not would be part of the other creative parts.

In 18 years in corporate roles I was never asked to do graphics. I had responsibility for graphics and packaging but never had to actually sit down and do it. And on my own for more years than that, every time I need graphics or a model I call a graphic designer or a modelmaker on the theory that those are distinct disciplines in their own right and deserve undivided attention.

If I wanted to hire an industrial designer I would want 3D to be their entire focus and the same for a graphic designer. I dont know how anyone can claim to be the expert these ads call for in 5 pieces of software without diluting their efforts substantially to the point where they arent an expert in anything.

If you focus on 3D and only 3D then you can claim some level of expertise but if your time in 3D has been diluted by thoroughly learning Illustrator or Photoshop that wouldnt be legitimate. Begs the question - How much of your ID time can you sacrifice and still call yourself an ID ?

Sad in a way. Being a talented “industrial design expert” is no longer sufficient. I suppose that may be in smaller companies but some of these ads are from companies I;m surprised would want ID diluted.

I think it’s reasonable for a young ID to have an understanding of these things, but to expect sophisticated aesthetic sensibility and high proficiency in delivery in all those areas, even after three years out of school, is stretching it IMO… but most importantly the pay should reflect that. For sure, some industrial designers can know what good and successful GD looks like, but to expect them to deliver an effective GD solution on par with a legit graphic designer? I hope not… again, make sure the pay/benefits reflects this diverse skill set and level of expectations. Because it takes some kind of life style to work towards being that kind of designer. Some employers are a lot more reasonable with their expectations of course, but some aren’t. :confused:

Surely the ad you are referring to is only asking for some capability or knowledge in the other skills, rather than being an expert. I would expect the average IDer to be able to do some basic graphic or mechanical design, even if only to explore ideas, but certainly not to the same standard as a graphic designer of engineer.

The alternative is the classic ‘student job’ ad, where they just ask for literally everything.

“Seeking junior student for part-time job in retail environment, must have 10 years experience in all things retail related. Those without experience do not apply”.

You can’t write a BOM? You can’t communicate an idea in a tangible 3D form?

Maybe this particular job doesn’t want an “ID expert” do continuously spec unobtanium and “design” parts that cannot be made. Maybe they want actual customer feedback instead of a gladhand that you get from a hot sketch. And the oh-so-crazy thought that they need a package to protect/contain/market /distribute is actually pretty sane.

After your 18 years of doing ID, I would suggest expanding your horizons and not become a dinosaur.

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I’m in full agreement with you - all this approach does is to create bottlenecks by relying on the finite hours available by a single resource - and to your point, more often than not it breeds marginal quality in each of those disciplines.

But the larger picture seems to be this; our capitalistic approach to everything has minimized the value of our human resources to nothing more than an item on that BOM, and the profit machine can live with marginal talent as long as the product satisfies the masses, because the profit machine can’t feel, touch or discern the details. :frowning:


I’m in full agreement with you - all this approach does is to create bottlenecks by relying on the finite hours available by a single resource - and to your point, more often than not it breeds marginal quality in each of those disciplines.

But the larger picture seems to be this; our capitalistic approach to everything has minimized the value of our human resources to nothing more than an item on that BOM, and the profit machine can live with marginal talent as long as the product satisfies the masses, because the profit machine can’t feel, touch or discern the details. ([/quote]

Thank You Scott.

I really had to laugh when I saw that about becoming a dinosaur at 18 years’ experience because I don’t do anything but design products. At that rate I have more than earned the distinction of being called a dinosaur. Never done graphics.

If you look at the history of ID education in the US over the last 50 years we’ve gone from maybe 12 schools granting Bachelor degrees in ID to about 500 at all levels. That’s a lot more ID’ers out there competing for the same jobs from people who usually have little to no knowledge of the field or what they need. So naturally they’ll ask for the sky and see what they’ll get. And that is the degradation of ID. From schools that were hard to get into and harder to graduate from to, well maybe, schools.

Talk a lesson from the trades – you’d be hard pressed to get a plumber to rewire your house and vice versa for a whole host of reasons

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in such an ideal world. Build it and it they will come.

While you would like to hold your nose, in the last 30 years of only designing products, I have faced reality to know that ID is a only small part of bringing a product to market and all of them, good and bad, have been designed. I am, on my best day, a mediocre graphic designer. But in a fast, iterative process, perfect is the enemy of good enough to get customer feedback. I also understand determining market potential, pricing, distribution, manufacturing, regulatory landscape, selling cycles, line expansion, capacity planning, capital, amortization, billing, life cycle, sourcing, purchasing, research, positioning, financing, cash flow, competition, specifications, features, benefits, BOMs, PHRs, work instructions, packaging, promotion and everything else that isn’t on the top of my head to bring a product to market so I can get paid. Yup, the evils of capitalism.

And while you think doing the same thing for 18 years is laughable, I find it a bit sad.


Our capitalistic approach to everything has minimized the value of objects. And while there are consequences in living in a disposable world, I think they are far better than living in a world where objects are idolized.

Where did you get the 500 programs number? Just Curious.

In my opinion, as generic as this sounds I believe some of the best employees are “t-shaped.” I would be surprised to find an ID’er who didn’t have at least a baseline knowledge of those things as they seem very necessary. Some of the best designers in history were extremely multi-disciplinary, that doesn’t mean they were any less of ID’ers. Charles and Ray Eames, Massimo Vignelli, Karim Rashid, Marc Newson, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Starck, The Bouroullec Brothers, the list goes on. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to continue to learn?

“If you can design one thing, you can design everything” - Massimo Vignelli

And if an ID’er can’t make a model, how do they test their ideas?

T-Shaped People:

“The concept of T-shaped skills, or T-shaped persons is a metaphor used in job recruitment to describe the abilities of persons in the workforce. The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one’s own.” -The Wikipedia

What has ID become ? Seems like a catch all for all things creative and all things people dont understand.

It is often that way for startups whereas settled companies often ask for very specific roles.

Besides, to think that ID is just the physical product design is far too limited.

Industrial Designers are excellent candidates for the people who can integrate multiple disciplines to bring about transformative innovations.
They are the one to take a vision from someone with a knack for business, and develop the idea so it will successfully integrate with manufacturing possibilities, overall engineering challenges, user requirements, new markets and aesthetic developments. With digitally driven design, the Industrial Designer also knows about UI specifications in a language suited to interaction designers (flow charts, UML, arduino prototyping).

Therefore we need to have a very broad awareness and many basic skills, a team-driven spirit and a few specialties as well.

We can’t forget there’s a lot of different kinds of businesses out there that require ID work. Here are my assumptions:
-This sounds to me like a established business with an established product line that only needs incremental changes.
-They probably don’t put a lot of value on ID because their products are selling, but they know they need someone for whatever design needs they have to run the business. I’m surprised they didn’t ask for Photography, Art Direction & Social Media.
-Not enough work throughout the year to hire a dedicated ID, Graphics, Mechanical Engineer, Model Maker separately.
-In theory and most ID’ers can dabble into those disciplines. Some do it very well.
-They don’t have an established design department and that’s why they need a “designer” that can do everything.
-Not perfect but enough to get the point across be it ID, graphics, simple mechanical concepts, BOMs, models, etc.
-If they found a super talented designer that can do all these duties extremely well, they will not want to pay his/her salary requirements.
-They are probably asking for the ideal candidate knowing they will have to settle for the one that will do.

Some places like to “cast a wide net” thinking it doesn’t hurt to ask for everything to see who they get applying.

idainc has brought up a great point about the “hiring fancy” of firms looking for over-abundant-ID-resources and all you’ve done in your three or four posts to him and me is to try to piss all over it. Maybe insulting him isn’t the best way to make your point.

As for my comment about our capitalistic society and economy, it’s spot-on…in mass production it has minimized the value of not only the objects in front of us but the entire process and resources (yes, even human) used to make those objects. While it has its obvious pros it certainly has its obvious cons as well, whether you want to admit it or not. And we could go further too, discussing the impacts of how our economic engine is influenced by our political system and how those influencers started the decline of our labor force beginning the slow push away from artisanship toward “get 'er done” about 45 years ago. It is that degradation of the expert details that you’re mocking, although I don’t think you know that.

And while you should be proud of how versatile you’ve become as a designer (in the past, I too have performed that laundry list of tasks you mentioned) I doubt you’d argue that you or I are probably not the fastest or most efficient capital planning or purchasing resources and so insisting or being asked to perform those tasks might help you earn your keep, it’s not the best way to accomplish that task - and that was idainc’s point - yep, the evils of capitalism.

I read the posts we received in response to my original post and quite honestly, I wasn’t certain whether I should take them seriously. In fact, I still can’t determine whether they were maybe tongue in cheek.

The proliferation of design schools hasn’t been a positive thing for the industry. There are schools that are located in areas that aren’t noted for their vibrant arts communities. There is an imaginary Ivy League of Design Schools. I went to one. Those that strenuously object to that notion just plain didn’t go to one. ID is far more than a trade school experience taught off the beaten path in a vacuum or in a community college.

The proliferation of people claiming to be able to do everything for everybody is very concerning as it devalues talent. It’s hard to imagine how one can have expertise in any one field when you also claim expertise in others that use very complex software regardless of “talent”. How many hours are there in your day?

You either are or are not an ID expert. You may have exposure to other fields but exposure and expertise are very different things.

As Generatewhatsnext says – the world has gone from an appreciation of talent to the baseless and barren “just gimme the file” approach. Deliverables without content fostered by the “I can do it all” school of design.

The same thing has happened in law. You can be on trial for murder with an attorney from an Ivy League law school (who’s a dinosaur) or you can have an attorney from a store front night school who is an expert in it all.

The plane is on fire. Do you want a dinosaur / expert in the left seat (with 18 or more years experience) or someone who “can do it all” ?

This is a pointless question and years spent doing something does not make one a natural at it, or an expert. Ability cannot be measured in years spent doing something.
I’ve worked with people with 18+ years experience that are literally incompetent as designers and engineers, and I have taught students who after a 3 year degree are not only better than people who’ve done the same niche thing for decades, but also have excellent graphic design skills, etc. I would employ these graduates over certain “Design Managers” I have worked under.