Why a one-size-fits-all approach to UX staffing isn’t working

By: Kenya Oduor, PhD

Hiring is challenging, especially in today’s competitive market. Years ago, as an in-house hiring manager, I recall the effort required to justify the need for a role, especially in UX Strategy or Design.  It was equally challenging to get approval for the appropriate compensation for niche skill sets, that in some cases, lacked adequate benchmarks within the company. 

🎉  Woo hoo! Position approved!  Then the unexpected happens…

Our internal talent acquisition team doesn’t quite understand the skill set and how to screen candidates. They have a hard time deciphering candidates’ job titles and quality portfolios. So, they pull in the small group of approved third-party vendors for assistance.

And then… third-party vendors experience the same challenges.

The result is an inbox full of resumes that are not a good fit. The requested resolution?  I, the hiring manager, take time out of my day to hold a call with all of the vendors and talent team to educate them on the varying UX research and design roles, skills and capabilities, what to look for on a resume, etc.

Still no success. The work for this new team member continues to pile up. And I have spent more time communicating, educating, and rejecting.  

⏰  Fast forward…Now I am a vendor on the other side of the hiring process.

Client A anxiously reaches out to us, in need of a new team member ASAP. They have exhausted every avenue with their internal talent acquisition team and with traditional vendors.  They supply all of the necessary position details over a video call. We hang up.

My small team and I are nimble. So, we jump on the opportunity and start sourcing candidates quickly.  We’ve been in the hiring manager’s shoes before. We understand the need and what a good candidate profile should include.  And then…things go quiet.

Why?  Unfortunately, we are unable to assist or communicate with Client A. Vendor onboarding processes in Client A’s organization prevent us from having the necessary contracts in place to present or discuss candidates. The approval process has taken upwards of six months in some instances. 

The challenge is not new. It is one we’ve seen often enough that it warrants ideas on ways to disrupt the status quo.  Have you seen or experienced this challenge from the hiring manager’s, HR professional’s, or vendor management team’s perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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