I know being a recruiter is hard. It’s even harder for designers looking for the correct job. I’m trying to help here, and by no means I think recruitment is an easy business, nor a simple one.

After ten years in the career, I’ve come to a stage where recruiters come to me and offer to talk to me about potential positions. However, there are some pain points here in terms of the way they approach designers, especially those who are not necessarily looking:

Offering to talk too soon

Recruiters are quick to come to making a phone call. Designers who are not looking often need a quick way to “scan” why this opportunity matters, and they don’t always have time or are willing to make a call. It’s a big commitment. Designers who are looking also want to make sure they are engaged with the right pool of opportunities.

Not disclosing the industry

I totally get that recruiting agencies try to hide their clients so they can keep the account going and not being bypassed by the candidate or the company. However, if you can’t disclose the client, at least disclose the industry. Without this, we can’t assess the opportunity well.

Templated message

I get it that you have to engage with 20 or 50 candidates to find the perfect match. But I can sense if you actually write the same message to everyone.

Not understanding the role or the expertise

I was contacted for an engineering position that has nothing to do with design. Some other time, it was for Data Visualisation Engineer. I get that some positions come across as multi-disiciplinary, but it’s a bit sad that the candidate is not considered very carefully in terms of their work history and expertise.

Some design experts like Jared Spool once mentioned that we should reconsider the hiring experience.

It’s pretty valid.

However, I would leave more of that to the experts. I just want to make little things that can make an impact, such as how recruiters can send a better message to candidates. I think it all comes down to one.

Try to sell better in the intro

This sounds simple, but it involves some work (yeah recruiters, you’ve got some work to do):

Understanding the position

As a recruiter, it’s best to learn about the position and re-write the requirement based on your understanding and how it fits the candidate, and not just having it passed from the client. Here are some of the questions you can ask from the client:

  • What kind of problem are you trying to solve with the company? This will create resonance with the candidate. “Oh wow, I’ve been longing to help alleviate poverty.” Align the missions!
  • What kind of designer are you trying to hire? This is tied to the problem. Borrowing what Jared Spool said in that video, if you hire a designer to create a design system, you should be able to say that in the message. “Brand designer” or “UX Designer” are just titles, instead, you should be able to describe what they’re designing to capture the imagination and excitement.
  • Who will they be working with or dealing with? Designers want to know the team they’ll be working with, so it’s worth to say that they will work with product managers, business analysts and brilliant engineers as it is to say that they will do user research with government employees in order to combat poverty.

It’s less about the working years (well, you can include that later, this is a marketing message!) nor skill requirements (Sketch, Photoshop). You can include skills like HTML/CSS or prototyping only if it supports the problem and the design they’ll be working on.

Understanding the candidate

Nobody likes to be considered a commodity or just a number. Be personal. Get to know them. It’s like a date.

  • What did the candidate do in the past? Learn about the career history. Stalk the social media (yes, you heard it correctly, this way, you know what they’re passionate about). Or at very least, read the LinkedIn profile. A good candidate can always write about their previous jobs and what they’re passionate about.
  • Get more personal. Where is the candidate currently based? Do you think the candidate is open for relocation? Does the candidate have a family? If you don’t know, just ask — this is considered a very empathic set of questions. These personal things will impact their career decisions. And of course, say their names correctly.
  • What does the candidate want to do more of? Reach out to the candidate’s inner dreams. Make the candidate excited. Ask the candidate what is it that they want to do more? Is it to lead a team, or to learn deeply about prototyping, or even to do more user research?


I’m trying to do a proper example here, about what kind of message I want to get. Feel free to customise it the way you think suits your needs.

Hello Katana,

My name is Sigit, I work for the Amazing Recruitment Agency. I wonder if you are open to career opportunities. If you are, please do read on.

(This is a sign of respect.)

I am working with a company to hire a senior designer for a financial product. I believe that this product will change the way people bank in Asia.

(A nice intro about what the position is, and what the industry is.)

As I am aware, you’ve been working in a financial institution before for 2 years out of your 10 years as a designer. I think that experience can be extremely helpful for this role. Since you are currently based in Singapore, this position works best for you since it’s also in Singapore.

(Making it a personalised message, and a sign that the recruiter has studied the profile.)

With this position, we’d like you to:

  • create design systems for the mobile banking app
  • design of user interfaces to the smallest details
  • work with product managers, business analysts and engineers on a daily basis to make that come true
  • lead more junior designers

(More relevancy about what the candidate will actually do.)

We’d like someone who can dabble with design tools like Sketch, Invision and Flinto but are also adept in communicating with the other stakeholders. If this sounds like you, we want you.

(Presenting skill requirement in a better way.)

The design team is 5 people strong currently and they are some of the brightest designers in Singapore you can find. They love experimenting with new tools and methods, and they’re pretty chill!

(A glimpse of what the closest people the candidate will be working with.)

If you want, we can have a call so that I know better about your career plans, aspirations and your challenges. I’ll try my best to assist you should you have any questions or doubts. I can also share more details about the salary, benefits and the work culture there in the call.

(A sign of respect, once again, and addresses real concerns.)

Thanks Katana, I hope this initial introduction is useful for you!

(A personalised closure with a name.)

Looking forward to talking with you soon!

Best regards,


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Reflections on digital product design, travel, food and the in-betweens. Finding my compass.

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