filesGone are the days when one designer could cover all bases. As the field has become more highly specialized, print and digital designers now take distinct paths to become qualified professionals. That means you can’t apply the same tactics to find one as you would to find the other.

If you’re in need of a print designer, here are five things to look for in a strong candidate:

1. A Resume That Stands Out

You’d expect a sales representative to pen a resume that really sells their skills and abilities. Likewise, a designer handing over a plain text resume should trigger alarm bells.

The best print designers see their resumes as chances to showcase their talents. If a print designer doesn’t take pride in a document meant to promote their own skills, can you really trust them to take pride in the work they complete for you? In the world of design, it’s not enough to tell about your passion and creativity; a great designer should show it.

2. Practical Experience, Especially With Deadlines

This covers two key qualities of a great print designer.

First, does the candidate have practical experience working with print materials? As any good print designer will tell you, working digitally and working in print are dramatically different experiences in some ways. For example, color rendering is different between the two media. A neon green color might look great digitally, but it might not be reproducible in print without special processes. When hiring a print designer, you should always prioritize candidates who have worked directly with physical, printed products.

Second, does the candidate have experience working with and meeting deadlines? If you give a candidate as long as they need, they will undoubtedly produce some stunning art — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can do the same on a time-sensitive project. Can they reproduce their highest-quality works in a matter of days or even hours? Can they deliver their best even when juggling multiple campaigns and responsibilities?

3. A Strong Portfolio

Putting together a digital portfolio should be easy for any designer, no matter their specialty. If an applicant has no examples of their work available online, you should question how serious they are about the role.

Print designers should also make physical copies of their portfolios easily available. Any candidates who struggle to produce physical portfolios should be scrutinized closely. Hiring a plumber to fix the wiring in your house would be a disaster. Hiring the wrong designer can be just as damaging for your brand.

4. Communication Skills

Design is all about communicating messages in a clear and appropriate visual manner. While looking through the resumes and portfolios of applicants, pay attention to how easy they are to read. Can you understand the messages of their design and iconography? It should be readily apparent that the applicant has carefully considered font sizes, line spacing, and layout choices. If you struggle to comprehend a designer’s message, this may not be the right candidate for you.

5. Attention to Detail

A resume or portfolio with errors in its spelling or layout should be discarded. This may seem like a small issue, but sending marketing materials out with errors will only damage your brand. Potential clients won’t buy from you if you can’t do your own work properly. Applicants who don’t take pride in their resumes or portfolios are a risk to your business.

You may also want to consider giving candidates tasks to complete during interviews in order to assess how well they work under pressure — and whether they stay attentive to detail when the stakes are high.

On a final note, keep in mind that compromises may need to be made. You may not ever find an ideal candidate. However, the best designers are those who are capable of learning new skills and keeping up with trends. If you can find someone with a great attitude and eagerness to learn, that can often make up for a lack of quality in other areas — provided you have resources in place to support and assist your new hire in getting up to snuff.

Craig Lewis is head of design for MarketingFile. Follow MarketingFile on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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