A year ago, I was leading a design team for a small startup in Israel. Then the Covid-19 pandemic started and I was suddenly out of work. I am a mother of four (five if you count a dog), so I was looking for a job as quickly as possible, and started the hiring process at several large companies.
Experienced product designers are a popular commodity in today’s job market as they create many opportunities, but at the same time make it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is widespread controversy among designers looking for work as to whether it is worth choosing the big tech brands that offer stability (but can also limit you professionally and creatively), or it is worth taking the risk and betting on what you think might be next. a successful company. In the second case, you can get exponential professional growth, but you also run the risk of unexpectedly jobless. My experience has taught me that everything is much more complicated.
I ended up receiving offers from most of the places I applied for (including Google), and for the first time in my 12-year career, I had the opportunity to stop and ask myself what kind of job would make me happy.
The answer led me to the JoyTunes company. And even a year later, I still feel like I won the jackpot. Below, I want to share an updated dream job search checklist for experienced product designers contemplating the next step in their careers.
1. It’s all about people
During the hiring process, you will meet future colleagues. So not only are you interviewing – you are also eyeing them. From the very first phone call to HR to the last CEO interview, I fell in love with the people I met on JoyTunes. They were all full of passion for their work. Their mission is to bring the joy of learning music to every home around the world. Their enthusiasm was unusually infectious. I’m quite suspicious, so at first I assumed that this was a way of selling, hiding a more complex reality, but then I met team members who have been at JoyTunes for 6 years or more, and they all talked about the company and people with a sparkle in their eyes. I realized that I had found something special.
Takeaway: Be choosy about the people you will be working with. Look for passion, kindness, and humility in those you meet when applying for a job. You should feel comfortable in the interview. This feeling will tell you a lot about how happy you will be in the future.
2. Be a general practitioner
I am passionate about holistic design and enjoy contributing to the entire product lifecycle: strategy, MVT prioritization, UX research, usability testing, data analysis, interface design, etc.
Access to such a wide range of fields is rare, and I have often been limited by my specialization, which did not give me the complete picture I dreamed of.
At JoyTunes, we work in small, interdisciplinary teams called “pods”, each with a focus on achieving a business goal and a high degree of autonomy that allows us to move quickly. Each designer in the company works independently in his own module, which allows us to stand out professionally, and requires a high degree of responsibility and ownership:
- Every week we release new tests and versions of the program, so we learn quickly, making all decisions based on the data received.
- We conduct extensive UX research: surveys, interviews, usability testing, and more.
- We double the number of tests by optimizing the ones that had an impact and redefining the failures (and there are many).
- Interaction with multiple disciplines enriches design immensely. My job is 10 times better than before, thanks to all the resources and people at my disposal.
Takeaway: Don’t settle for work that focuses on pixels and transforming wireframes into beautiful designs. Product design is all about problem solving that requires enthusiasm and dedication.
3. People, not users
After years of working on B2B products, feeling far from the end user, I was looking for a company that would allow me to connect directly with people using the products I created. The daily interaction with music learners is our fuel. We are committed to our community of learners and communicate with them regularly. This makes me not only a better designer, but also a happier person.
Takeaway: Don’t settle for a product you don’t like. If you feel like you are creating something that you truly love, you will easily get up in the morning.
4. Culture is the key to success
JoyTunes has a unique “flat” structure made up of small multi-functional modules, as mentioned above, with 4-10 teammates in each module. Within each module, we decide what we should build and how we should do it. This kind of responsibility and ownership of the product is extremely rare. We only employ experienced professionals because everyone is expected to have maximum influence and discipline at all times. It fosters a healthy work environment, builds trust, cooperation and true collegiality – we are a team working towards a common goal, and everyone shares the success of the others.
In addition, we tend to be wrong. In fact, the sooner we make a mistake, the better. I used to work in cultures where I was always required to be the best, but now my creativity has wings.
There is a deep understanding that we are imperfect, and this is how it should be. At JoyTunes, people talk openly and honestly about their shortcomings, creating a truly intimate work environment that recognizes the reality that we are humans, not robots. For example, I felt safe from the start when I shared my feelings of imposter syndrome with my colleagues. Yuval, our CEO and co-founder, speaks openly when he’s unsure of something, asks for advice and shares his thought processes. This is not only reassuring, but also builds trust, improves communication, and does not diminish the mutual respect that people have for each other.
Takeaway: Don’t take a job if you feel like you will be judged only by your success. Look for a place where you and your colleagues will be seen as people with weaknesses and strengths. Ask how your work will be evaluated and how the company deals with difficult situations.
5. Do good
This is a bonus – I didn’t know that this work would change my life so much, but every day I wake up happy, because I take part in creating a product that should bring joy to people. We do not manipulate people, forcing them to act to their detriment, we want to help them learn to play music. I haven’t looked for this, but it’s great.
Takeaway: Look for a company where you can combine positive influence in the world with your professional goals. Then you will feel more fulfilled both professionally and personally.