7 reasons why companies prefer senior designers over juniors & 2 tips to overcome them.
Unfortunately so many companies fall into this trap that they only want to hire senior designers instead of junior designers.
Even though there are many UX designer jobs when you look at job boards, but only a few, but only a few companies are prepared to hire junior designers, and here’s the reason why:
Hiring a junior UX designer is not time & cost effective.
Hiring someone at a junior level can cause huge money for a company. The problem is not the salary. It is the cost and the time that someone else needs to dedicate to upskill the junior designer.
Junior designers usually require a lot of attention from a senior designer. Sometimes, especially when an organisation is small, they cannot afford that. They might not even have a senior designer working, therefore they prefer to have someone who can take a project, and run with it. To be fair, usually junior designers are not prepared to do this after they graduate from college or bootcamp.
The other reason why companies don't want to hire junior designers is because of the quality of work junior designers might deliver.
Obviously, this is a generalisation only, so not all of the junior designers produce lower quality work, but in average, yes they do.
A senior designer is much faster with design delivery. Seniors may already have assets from previous projects that they can utilise during a new project. While a junior designer needs to build everything from scratch.
Junior designers are not good at time management yet, because they haven't worked with time constraints.
Delivering something on time is a skill that they need to learn on projects. Lot of companies assume that they won't be able to deliver projects & design work by the deadline. So, it's very important during the interview that you express that you have great time management skills.
The other reason why companies don't want to hire junior designers is because employers cannot afford to assign a senior person or a supervisor to a junior designer. Junior designers usually learn much better when there is a senior designer assigned to them, so working alongside another designer would be really beneficial, but a lot of companies just cannot afford that.
Senior designers, because of their experience, are much better at making decisions on the spot and without consulting other people or other designers. This is something that junior designers haven’t mastered yet because of a lack of experience. Juniors most likely need another person as a sounding board to bounce ideas off and make decisions.
And another reason why companies don't want to hire junior designers is, even if they have a senior designer, not all of the senior designers are great mentors. Assuming that just because somebody is in the field for a long time (e.g. over 5 years) they should be perfectly able to mentor another junior designer, but in reality, that's not necessarily the case.
Someone can be amazing at their job, and can deliver such a high quality output & design solutions, but they are not really good at passing their knowledge on to someone else. This is a skill that senior designers need to learn. However, not all of the senior designers want to be mentors or want to be design managers and work with junior designers, and that's just how it is.
Some senior designers are not that great at giving critique to other people. Those people usually are freelancers or they tend to work solo on projects. So overall, not everybody is prepared to teach other people about design. We all need to accept that just because someone is a senior designer, they might not want to teach you. The best way to figure it out is to just have a candid conversation about this and have your expectations set.
The other reason why companies don't want to hire junior designers, especially when you're coming out of boot camp, or you just finished school, is because even if you learn Design Thinking theory, you don't have system thinking knowledge and expertise.
For example, think about journey mapping, service blueprint, experience mapping, empathy mapping...only two of them could be practiced without users and on ‘fake’ projects. But for the rest...you need to have real life experience because you cannot make things up. A huge part of it is doing the user interviews, synthesising the data, and map out the findings. No school or bootcamp will teach you this.
Now, what’s your best chance to get hired as a junior designer (who either finished a short bootcamp or obtained a college degree).
Your best chance is having a killer portfolio & resume that shows to potential employers you could do this job even without any experience.
Applying for jobs at larger organisations e.g. companies that are prepared to teach a junior designer, companies that can provide a senior designer or a mentor who you can work alongside.
Don't be disheartened, just keep applying, keep practicing, show up and do your best during an interview, and you're going to get a job soon enough.
This article is the written version of my YouTube video that you can watch here: