Increasingly, innovative-driven organizations seek to bring UX research, strategy, design and related capabilities closer to the heart of their operations in an effort to be more agile, faster to market and responsive to the needs of their customers. In our last post, Building a Better User Experience, we highlighted how the accelerating pace of innovation has driven the demand for UX expertise to new heights – and that the challenge of meeting this demand now contributes to a leading business risk for companies in 2019.

As a result, many leading brands are looking at Filter’s unique embedded-team model as a winning solution to this challenge. For each of these clients, Filter creates custom-built teams to fit their specific needs and seamlessly integrates them with their own organization, people and processes. In addition to higher efficiency, productivity and business acceleration, clients appreciate the collaboration, transparency and other benefits this approach provides.

They also value the high level of expertise we bring to these engagements, fueled by proven UX specialists who hit the ground running with insights and innovation honed through years of experience at the world’s top brands.

Our ability to deliver best-of-breed UX expertise is a critical advantage we bring to our clients – one backed by an expert team of professionals and a proven process developed th-ough nearly 30 years of experience within the creative specialist community.

To better understand where it all starts, we spoke to two key members of Filter’s sourcing team, Nick Richards and Heidi Simpson.

Q:  What skills are most important for UX Specialists?

Nick: When looking for UX researchers, I typically seek people with a robust portfolio of experience, unless they’ve been selected with a research assistant position in mind. They need to have deep analytical skills, solid mental agility, demonstrated problem solving examples, and history of cross-team collaboration. Experience with reputable brands is also a plus.

Heidi: I look for strong portfolios that reflect someone’s best work or projects. With UX, it is so dependent on the role, so the portfolio will really reveal if they will be a good fit.

Q: How have UX trends impacted the type of experience you see from talent?

Nick: The market is constantly adjusting. Compared to previous years, I now see UX experience dominate resumes, which is a telltale sign that a candidate understands the market’s needs and can adjust their work experience to reflect that. In the past, I saw UX more as a buzzword that rounded out experience.

Heidi: Today’s UX roles range across many products and industries. If we find someone who wants to focus on a specific niche like IoT or voice interaction, we could have many roles for them vs. just being in tech and retail. Filter has clients spanning several industries: healthcare, fintech, nonprofit, e-commerce, tech, retail, nonprofit, and more. Candidates now can go from industry to industry, so they aren’t stagnant, OR they can stick within the same one – there’s a choice now.

Q:  Do you source individuals with certain projects in mind? Certain clients?

Nick: We source two different ways: pipelining is when a candidate matches the type of person we typically hire, and strategic sourcing is when we have a specific role in mind. There are always roles to source, so we tend to switch off between these two strategies.

Q:  What key factors indicate that someone may be the right fit for our clients?

Heidi: Cultural fit is our number one criterion. We have open conversations with our candidates about personal and professional interests. Also, candidates are vetted by both the sourcing and recruitment teams, which provides a well-rounded understanding of who each individual is. Experience and the right lifestyle fit and values help us determine if someone will work well both as a Filterati and with our clients.

Nick: Definitely. They also need to fit all our Filter values of making an impact, being yourself, being truthful, etc. The people we vouch for should have good values overall. We also look for BRAND fit – certain brands look for specific personas. We know that athletes would vibe better with Nike compared to Google; the right person will live the lifestyle that our client represents. And lastly, job fitness is a huge priority for anyone we source – there’s a difference between someone just showing up for their job and someone showing passion and excitement for their projects.

Q: From the thousands of candidates you’ve connected with, can you share a story stuck with you?

Nick: Our Filterati have very differing backgrounds. Alex Gilbert has a background in high fashion (previously working for Burberry) and was working for Apple in London. He ended up transferring his role to the Bay Area, and I stepped in to get him working with Filter at Google, where he’s killin’ it!

Heidi: One of our Filterati, Wes Miles, was with Amazon a couple of years back. I caught him in a 1-2 week career gap and solidified a place for him on Microsoft’s EDU team. He is a motion designer on the team and is instrumental in bringing the graphic designers and illustrators visions to life. See for yourself in, here:

(*This video is also created by Miles!)

Q: How has Filter adapted to the growing need for creative minds in today’s businesses?

Nick: When talent works with an agency with a focus, like UX, they’re more attracted to it than agencies with a ton of focuses. We hone in on really specific and specialized roles, which allows us to build trust and rapport with our candidates.

Heidi: To adjust to the changing market and increasing need for UX talent, our company has done a great job of investing in more UX resources to aid in these roles. For example, we have a Director of UX Design, Michael Hinnant, which proves how invested Filter is in the UX space. Another thing that’s attractive about Filter is our consulting solutions – some talent may prefer to be an individual contributor, but like the option to join an outsourced team or integrated team. This is also a unique proposition for our clients. The customization and flexibility in our different models have proven to be very appealing to clients and candidates alike.

Q:  How has the increasing need for UX professionals changed how individuals position their resumes?

Heidi: It’s different for every person and engagement. Talent with visual design backgrounds often go to SVC or General Assembly and earn a UX certificate to pivot their career. I often see a hybrid of UX and visual design experience, which makes sense because of the natural flow of both types of roles. Also, the University of Washington has a great program, and many alumni are breaking into the UX world. The market moves very quickly, so we usually see only one or two weeks between the start of a job search to hire time. Because of this, it’s important to showcase Filter’s competitive offerings and benefits so we can snag top talent!

Nick: I see many writers pivoting their skills to match UX trends. The smarter copywriters are positioning themselves as UX writers and looking into entry-level UX roles to get solid experience before moving to a more senior role. UX researchers are also doing this. Leveraging UX education is helping them shift from a more scientific background into corporate roles where they’re still doing research. At the end of the day, all research has the same fundamental elements, but execution and operations can differ – and that’s where a UX background can differentiate a candidate.

Q: What questions are you asked the most often?

Nick: Why work for Filter vs. a competitor? That’s easy – we have much better benefits, a great culture, but also not too small. We help our resources get people their dream job and clients their dream employee. It’s the best of both worlds.

Heidi: Why work at Filter? Why do you enjoy it? We stay pretty true to our values. We have great benefits and we work with innovative, exciting companies that enable candidates to progress their careers. Other agencies or brands may not offer long term careers, but with us it’s flexible. We have a badass company! And that makes the experience fun. Also, we work with companies that care about the greater good and match our tribal values. We never force candidates to work with specific clients. During intake, we ask about the clients they want to work with and those they want to avoid. We take the time to understand what each individual wants and what they do best, so each role is curated and specific. We really care about our Filterati and do our best so that everyone is happy!

To learn more about what projects our Filterati are working on in the UX space, explore our case studies. Have specific questions in mind? Contact us to share your UX needs and to discover how we can drive greater success for your business.