Top 10 design skills employers want

There's never been a better time to be a designer, the options to specialise in your career or branch out are endless. When you are starting out, there are a few fundamental design skills that almost all employees ask for.
People designing on a computer

From a recent survey of job ads we’ve put together the top ten things that employees want, some of these are skills-based, and some are about your attitude and creativity.

What employers want

Brand management
Above all employees want you to understand how to manage their brand or corporate identity, and branding is always about promoting a set of values visually across a range of material.

So, understanding how to consistently represent a brand in a communications ecosystem is super important.

Creative thinking
Working with a brand or visual identity takes software skills and also creative thinking. A designer’s job is often about creative problem-solving.

Finding new ways to communicate visually, working with the resources available and also taking advantage of new tools and technology that are emerging is part of the job.

Software skills
Employees want designers to be across a range of programs, mostly from the Adobe Creative Suite.

This includes InDesign for print layouts, Illustrator for logos and graphics, Photoshop for image management and digital illustration and XD for website designs. After Effects is also becoming more essential, giving services and products the opportunity to express themselves through moving graphics.

Knowing how to learn
Programs, tools and technology are continually evolving and updating all the time. A staff member who can learn on the job is a great asset to employees. Being keen to learn and being across new tools and changes to technology is an important skill set.

Print production
Old school it may be, but knowing how to put together brochures and other print media is still important; you just can’t beat the feel of paper in your hand if you want to get across a message and an impression.

Printed brochures give an organisation weight and integrity. Designers need to know how to work with print media, alongside their designs for the online world.

Digital design
Digital design is any kind of design that is viewed, or rather, interacted with, on a screen – from websites and apps to data visualisations and email newsletters. You’ll need to know how to deliver your brand visuals and personality using online mediums, and the more interactive these are, the better.

While designers working with developers don’t need to code to make their designs real, it helps to have an understanding of HTML, CSS and other types of code.

Social media
Designers that can create visually engaging, brand-consistent and clickable social media posts are ahead of the game. If your employee’s brand, service, or product is not on social media, it’s like “it doesn’t exist”.

Social media combines and condenses all your skills into bite-sized chunks of a brand narrative, so if you’re confident in creating and perfecting social media content, you are the kind of designer employees want.

Take a look around, or on your phone, photographic images are absolutely everywhere. If you can take a good photo, you have another string to your bow – which makes you a more attractive prospect for employers. Understanding the importance of lighting, camera angles and image composition is a skill that can help you really accelerate your value as an employee. Being able to write a shot list, as well as specify technical image requirements is a great enhancement to your skillset.

Transferable skills
As the saying goes, no one wants to work with a jerk, and being adaptable, motivated, and prompt are highly valued work skills.

There’s almost no job where you work alone, so being a reliable co-worker is important, as well as being able to flow with unpredictable changes. Smiles are good too!

Motion graphics
Just like the name, graphics in motion are about moving text and images in 2D space. Designers who can create 2D animation are able to transform concepts into narratives, and this makes them all that more powerful.

More and more, employees value the ability to create 2D animation in a designer tool kit, like everything else designers do, it combines communication, storytelling, and enchanting visuals.

Woman working on computer in a pink-lit studio

Interested in studying Design?

Whether your interest is in illustration and image-making, layout design, experience design, or communication and marketing campaigns at SAE your limit is your imagination.