Andreas, how did you get into the recruitment of designers?
I’ve always wanted to work in the human resources sector, and during my studies I came to recruitment through a working student position. I quickly realized that I enjoy communicating with designers. Whenever I had to fill design positions, I met very interesting characters and found it exciting to see how their careers were different from each other. I was lucky enough to often place international jobs and got to deal with designers from the Benelux countries, Italy, Great Britain or Scandinavia. This way, I was able to get a complex picture of the design profession and got to know many designers as true cosmopolitans. I am often fascinated by the stories they tell me about their travels and experiences.
How did your personal connection to the field of design come about?
My career is not a typical »from design fan to talent scout« kind of story. I simply had the pleasure of filling various positions within consumer goods, sporting goods and lifestyle industries, including sales and marketing, but there were also a lot of design positions. Right from the start, I enjoyed exchanging ideas with designers. Perhaps I find their profession so inspiring because that’s not my main field. I’m not an artist or a creative myself, but someone who enjoys beautiful things. Whenever I look at portfolios of designers, I often see that they are passionate about their job. Most of them found out about their creative talent relatively early in life and proceeded to really start working in industrial design, fashion design or digital design. When someone’s hobby becomes their job, it makes a huge difference compared to many other job profiles. A controller wouldn’t necessarily say, »Well, in my spare time I like to create financial tables!«
Is the recruitment of designers very different from other professions?
The best designers spill their true talent into their profession which has an impact on the recruiting and selection process. It gives me great pleasure to find out more about them: What is their preferred environment? Which customer potentially suits their way of designing websites or products? Becoming a designer is not just about training and graduation, but personal development. We like to turn the selection process into a design project and give the candidates small design tasks. For example we simulate a fictitious product launch, such as new headphones, for which a concept, a color image and two prototypes are to be designed.
This way, we can see the designer’s skills pretty clearly and they can show an additional skill set when they present the task afterwards, because many companies want to see that too. As you can imagine, this makes the selection process really precise. For me, dealing with designers is just fun!
And on the corporate side, what is your role then?
Usually, people come to me through a recommendation. The contact persons are in different roles from HR manager to business unit manager, creative director or managing director. In most cases the communication is very trusting, especially when the recruiting process has to be handled discreetly or is time sensitive. I enjoy to get to know the company and find out what is special about it: At what stage is the company right now? What changes do they want to achieve?
From most job descriptions a designer usually cannot guess what I like to call the »soft factors«, meaning the corporate culture, the team spirit. As a designer you often fit into many jobs. But the climate and the work relationships have to be a match as well.
You seem to have many points of contact with design in your daily life. Do you have an object yourself that you particularly like?
I’m a very visual person. Websites or user interfaces that are not only delightfully designed but also user-friendly fascinate me and enrich my life. When it comes to design objects, I like them rather minimalist. For example, I really like the Artemide lights or the shelf systems from USM Haller. At home I appreciate my Verner Panton Chairs – my taste is very puristic and timeless …