30 expert tips to get hired as a service designer

Smart tips to get hired as a service designer from 20+ thought leaders

In this 30-minute read, we want to share with you advice on how to get hired as a service designer from 20+ leaders of the service design community all around the world.

These tips answer four questions: How can I start a career in service design? What are the key mindsets and attitudes a service designer should have? How can I design an application that gets me hired as a service designer? How important are tools, processes and methods in order to get hired as a service designer?

A side note: how it all started

Marc Fonteijn, the cofounder of this website and the host of the Service Design Show, reached out to the service design community worldwide. He asked the community: What are your personal tips to get hired as a service designer? What are you looking at when you hire a service designer? Here the answers from these lovely 20+ individuals. A big thank you to them for their time and inspiring answers.

Key highlights by topic

For those in a hurry, we selected key quotes from the answers of each thought leader and categorised them into four key topics:

  1. How can I start a career in service design?
  2. What are the key mindsets and attitudes a service designer should have?
  3. How can I design an application that gets me hired as a service designer?
  4. How important are tools, processes and methods in order to get hired as a service designer?

For those who have the time, at the end of the article we share the full answers of each expert so that you can see these excerpts in context.

1. How can I start a career in service design and get hired as a service designer?

30 expert tips to get hired as a service designer

So, you are thinking about starting a career in service design, or you might be asking yourself how you can transition to service design from UX design or engineering. In this section we selected for you advice on how to start a career and the importance of certifications and education.

Where to start?

Get some experience working in a live service of any kind and help to improve it. You could volunteer at a small org, charity, or take a job that doesn’t have the word “designer” in it but gives you an opportunity to get close to service delivery.

Sarah Drummond,
CEO at Snook

Working in an agency seems to be the most common way for junior designers. After a few years, many move in-house, but I can’t think of any people I met who started in-house.

Fabian Segelström,
UX Director at Länsförsäkringar

For junior roles AND for senior roles: I want to see the values and behaviours cited in examples that are not necessarily project or practice related. What are you curious about? What motivates and inspires you? What irks you, and what do you do about it? What do you get so excited or annoyed by that it spurs you to action? What are those actions? What were the results from your actions? When did you not have something clearly defined, and what did you undertake and do to get clarity?

Judy Mellet,
Director, Service Design & Innovation at TELUS

Make sure that you’re owning your thought leadership and that you are publishing your ideas on the work that you’re doing. […] A short series of blog posts, a short video or something that’s out there […] becomes a really good way to kind of add to the picture that I have of who that designer is.

Doug Powell,
Vice President of Design at IBM

Education

Certifications and education don’t matter anymore. Your experience is what’s of interest.

Marc Stickdorn,
CEO at More Than Metrics

Go to school. As someone who has hired many service designers over the years, this really sets you apart. And it’s what I did. In my early thirties, I stopped working and got a graduate degree in design, during which I also learned about service design. The ability to focus, build my skills and develop a portfolio were invaluable and helped get me to where I am today.

Jamin Hegeman

When I see formal design or service design education on a resume, it gives me confidence the candidate will have the skills I need. While it’s not for everyone, it’s a path worth considering.

Jamin Hegeman

2. What are the key mindsets and attitudes a service designer should have that will help me get hired as a service designer?

What are the mindsets and attitudes that make a great service designer? In this section we selected for you advice from thought leaders in the service design community that will show you it’s not all about service design.

Multichannel mindset

I’ve seen that a lot of designers are focused on digital experiences, and I like them to remember that there is more than that.

Priscila Williams,
Service Design & UX Design Manager at Citibanamex

Show that one can operate between digital and physical worlds. Many come from interactive and lack the skills to see what needs to happen behind the scenes. And those who work behind the interface often lack the understanding of many UX issues that are often the face of the service design.

Idris Mootee,
CEO at Urbancoolab

Business mindset

It’s not (only) about the customers and their needs. Understand the business you are designing for too.

Stine Ringvig Marsal,
Service Excellence Director at Copenhagen Airport

My big tip is: Tell me what problem you solved. When you’re describing your work, what I most want to understand is: What was the service, how was the customer being failed by it and what was your solution? This is the job of service design. The journeys and personas are the means to an end.

Joel Bailey,
Director at EY Seren

Have a good understanding/literacy for the business context in which they are designing. Being able to articulate the value of a design decision for the business and in a way that is relevant for the organisation is so helpful for implementation.

Emma Aiken-Klar,
VP Global Human Insights at Idea Couture

Try to put yourself in your stakeholders’ shoes and understand what are the drivers of success they are looking for (from a business perspective). Can I translate that to WHY you were doing it?

Jose Mello,
Innovation Director at Liberty Mutual Insurance

I think they also need to bring a perspective on how their work, how their design add value to the business from a business perspective. We are very used to just speaking to how our work adds value to the user or to the end consumer.

Jose Mello,
Innovation Director at Liberty Mutual Insurance

Go beyond service design

When hiring someone in service design, I never look for service design. For me, the “service designer” doesn’t exist since it is a team sport with many different skills. I look for (design) researchers, facilitators, UX, UI, graphic designers etc. but not for service designers. So, my tip would be: Be clear about what you’re good at, which skills you bring to the table.

Marc Stickdorn,
CEO at More Than Metrics

What I always look for are combinations of topics, e.g. a lawyer who got into design or a designer with a software engineering background. This is really interesting as they speak multiple professional languages.

Marc Stickdorn,
CEO at More Than Metrics

Share your thinking on how service design has lead (or will lead) to sustainable change, transformation and innovation. When a designer can prove that they master not only the tools and approaches but also how it links to transformative actions and product and service innovation, that’s when I get excited!

Lisa Lindström

Be a people person

I also try to see if the person could work as a “connector”. In complex projects such as the ones we have at the bank, service designers are the diplomats and the connectors between silos.

Priscila Williams,
Service Design & UX Design Manager at Citibanamex

At MAKE, we look for people with great people skills, especially ones who have put it into practice in a way that benefits others. For example, they may run an interesting community or meet-up group. They might be volunteer carers, or coaches or mentors in a local startup community. […] Being active in a community signals that they are open and willing to put themselves out there and invite collaboration – a great foundation for a service designer!

Patti Hunt,
Founder and Director at MAKE Studios

3. How can I design an application that gets me hired as a service designer?

Okay, let’s get practical. What should I put in my service design portfolio? How do I make the most of the interview moment? What should I explain or share during the interview? In this section, we selected key advice from people who hire service designers about what makes a great application and convincing interview.

Portfolio advice

What I always want to see when I am about to hire a service designer is a portfolio with a project. I don’t care if it is something fictional from school; what I like to see is how the person thinks and if he/she is able to apply the methodologies with a critical thinking.

Priscila Williams,
Service Design & UX Design Manager at Citibanamex

I like to see how they apply the service design methodologies, but more than focusing on how well executed are they, rather explore why did they choose to use one versus another.

Priscila Williams,
Service Design & UX Design Manager at Citibanamex

My biggest tip for anyone is to have a portfolio of 1-3 projects that focuses less on visuals/outputs/artefacts and more on process.

Patrick Bach,
Director, Service Design at CIBC

By all means demonstrate that you understand service design as a method – show journeys and personas in a portfolio.

Joel Bailey,
Director at EY Seren

Interview and storytelling

The best thing to get a job (at any level) is having good stories to tell and knowing how to tell them.

Luis Alt,
Founding Partner at Livework Brasil

I observe how candidates build their arguments and show how a piece of work was conducted. The bits of information they select (as most important) and how they bundle it together.

Luis Alt,
Founding Partner at Livework Brasil

Can they walk me through a project in such a way that I can imagine myself there? Without visuals or artefacts, just with their words.

Patrick Bach,
Director, Service Design at CIBC

During the interview process, I give them a fictional case and ask them what would they do, just to see how they think… This always gives me a lot of information about their technical and soft skills.

Priscila Williams,
Service Design & UX Design Manager at Citibanamex

A good interviewer should be able to tell me the harrowing tale of a service design project they worked on. As we know, every project is fraught with challenges, and someone who is able to clearly articulate what choices were made, why, what the ups and downs were etc… will go far.

Patrick Bach,
Director, Service Design at CIBC

4. How important are tools, processes and methods in order to get hired as a service designer?

Many service designers love their tools, but are they so important for recruiters? In this section we explore advice and responses from people who have hired service designers in the past.

Service design processes, tools and methods

What I love to see from people’s projects, it’s how robust is their process and how pragmatic the person is.

Priscila Williams,
Service Design & UX Design Manager at Citibanamex

Demonstrate mastery, or if a novice, familiarity of service design tools such as customer journey mapping, service blueprinting, rapid prototyping etc. […] Most people by now have heard of those tools and are probably looking for someone who can use them in their organisation.

Jeneanne Rae,
Specialist Executive at Deloitte Digital

Show me how methodical you are. I would love to see your knowledge of the process and tools, where this knowledge comes from and how service design focused your toolbox is, especially if you are transitioning.

Mahmoud Abdelrahman,
Managing Partner at HUED

Demonstrate you know what services are and how they might work. Part of this is understanding how the means of interacting with the service and how the service is enacted are different, i.e. one is about the way I understand the service and how I as a customer interface with it, and the other is how the service works – how it’s operationalised.

James Samperi,
Managing Director at Engine Dubai

I know they get service design when they start describing service patterns they’ve seen, such as the importance of a perfect start or peak end – things that demonstrate they’ve thought about the human psychology of service use.

Joel Bailey,
Director at EY Seren

Let the team know that you can think beyond the frameworks and the tools.

Bernardo Torres,
Founder at Uncommon Design Strategy

It goes beyond service design.

I’m personally not interested in tools; I’m interested in people who have created interesting prototypes that have resulted in live service changes to improve things for users.

Sarah Drummond,
CEO at Snook

If you don’t have really good graphics skills or you don’t have really good copy skills, that could be an obstacle.

Angelica Flechas,
Professor of Service Design at ICON University

The full answers

Below you’ll find the full answers from this 21-expert panel of people who hire service designers. We placed the answers of these experts in no particular order. We like them all, so we thought a random order would make more sense.

Stine Ringvig Marsal

It’s not (only) about the customers and their needs. Understand the business you are designing for too.

Priscila Williams

What I always want to see when I am about to hire a service designer is a portfolio with a project.

I don’t care if it is something fictional from school; what I like to see is how the person thinks and if he/she is able to apply the methodologies with a critical thinking. Also what I love to see from people’s projects, it’s how robust is their process and how pragmatic the person is. 🙂 Sometimes also during the interview process, I give them a fictional case and ask them what would they do, just to see how they think… This always gives me a lot of information about their technical and soft skills. 😉

Marc: When you see a portfolio, what is it that gives you the most confidence that this is a suitable person for the job?

That’s a difficult question. I guess it’s the critical thinking and the ability to see beyond silos to understand the connections within the E2E experience. (I’ve seen that a lot of designers are focused on digital experiences, and I like them to remember that there is more than that.)

Also, I like to see how they apply the service design methodologies, but more than focusing on how well executed are they, rather explore why did they choose to use one versus another to see if that makes sense with the objectives that they had (I’ve also seen that everyone does journeys/blueprints, but sometimes other methodologies make way more sense.)

I also try to see if the person could work as a “connector”. In complex projects such as the ones we have at the bank, service designers are the diplomats and the connectors between silos… I guess that I try to find that in their previous projects.

Joel Bailey

By all means demonstrate that you understand service design as a method – show journeys and personas in a portfolio – but my big tip is: Tell me what problem you solved. When you’re describing your work, what I most want to understand is: What was the service, how was the customer being failed by it and what was your solution? This is the job of service design. The journeys and personas are the means to an end.

I know they get service design when they start describing service patterns they’ve seen, such as the importance of a perfect start or peak end – things that demonstrate they’ve thought about the human psychology of service use.

This might come from reflecting on their own experience of service use – and how services have influenced them – or it might come from reading more broadly than service design manuals. If I see this sort of service literacy – a willingness or ability to see services in the world and how they work as human systems – then I know they get it.

Jeneanne Rae

If I were to give one tip to someone who was looking for a service design job, I would say they should demonstrate mastery, or if a novice, familiarity of service design tools such as customer journey mapping, service blueprinting, rapid prototyping etc.

Since at least in the US recruiters are not exactly savvy with what service design is, I’d say meet them where they are. Most people by now have heard of those tools and are probably looking for someone who can use them in their organisation.

Luis Alt

Difficult to set aside only one tip, right? But I would say the best thing to get a job (at any level) is having good stories to tell and knowing how to tell them.

Whenever I’m evaluating someone to hire, I observe how candidates build their arguments and show how a piece of work was conducted. The bits of information they select (as most important) and how they bundle it together. I think storytelling is a big part of service design, and also it helps me understand how people think and what they find is more relevant in our work.

My advice is always for people to start doing projects so they have stories to tell, and that they think really hard about those stories and how they will tell them…

So what type of information do we look for? Well, I mentioned it’s basically about how people tell their stories. What I’m looking for is how they interpret different situations for the project and how they see the challenge within the organisation, how they read what the project represented to the organisation. How the work actually happens. So, how they participated in this, in the work itself, because sometimes when you see a project, you don’t know exactly how some people participated, right?

I’m trying to understand whenever I’m interviewing someone for a job, let’s say, how was the role within the team? And where and how they translate insights into ideas and how they share those ideas, if they can express themselves in a valuable manner, let’s say. So I think this is very important for me because when we see some pictures of a project, they don’t tell much, right?

And it’s hard to say who did what, so I’m basically looking for how people reason and how people find value within a project story. That’s why I think storytelling and how people tell the project stories are so important.

So it’s about the form, I mean, how they tell the story and also the project itself, how it happened in the process and how familiar they are with different project situations and how they found solutions to complex problems. All of those things together are much more important to me than a portfolio. I think they are. They express so much more about the quality of the professional.

Of course, there are many people that are good storytellers, and when we get to see them working, they are not as good. It’s very common, and it happens. But I still think that within service design if people are confident and they show themselves familiar with some tools and with some projects, situations, and they show how they found solutions, I think this is the most important part to me.

James Samperi

Number one for me: Demonstrate you know what services are and how they might work.

Part of this is understanding how the means of interacting with the service and how the service is enacted are different, i.e. one is about the way I understand the service and how I as a customer interface with it, and the other is how the service works – how it’s operationalised.

If a prospective service designer can demonstrate they understand this, have the clarity of how it fits together and how they might be able to design for it, that is a very good sign that they would potentially make a good hire.

One great example: I was at an interview, and a designer storyboarded the experience of their family holiday home where they worked during the summer holidays. Using photographs, they presented a picture of how it worked today and what a guest would experience checking in and making a reservation.

She then showed how she reimagined how it could work better, through showing how each touchpoint and interaction could be different and how that would be more in line with their marketing and their values around personal, welcoming and local knowledge (something like that!).

This was great, mainly pictures of the holiday home and then a few photoshopped elements to describe how it could work differently.

She then flipped the focus, and rather than showing the experience, she now talked about what would need to change to make that vision a reality.

She presented a diagram of how the holiday home operation was made up today and how it worked versus what would need to change tomorrow to make her vision a reality.

The diagram was a service architecture that included people, processes, systems, the technology, etc. etc. and how they delivered the check-in and reservation services. It showed good understanding of how the operation makes the front of house work and vice versa, and demonstrated the left brain/right brain balance you need as a service designer.

In the end she made the case to us and previously to her parents that delivering a better experience for their guests could be operationally more efficient and save them money. Amazing job.

Grounded in the real world. Balanced with vision, creativity and experience, but also balanced with some rigorous thinking of how she might make it work.

Not short, but hey…

She also wasn’t a classically trained designer either.

Mahmoud Abdelrahman

Show me how methodical you are. I would love to see your knowledge of the process and tools, where this knowledge comes from and how service design focused your toolbox is, especially if you are transitioning. But then, as if I’m your client, show me how these led to eye-opening research insights and novel innovative service concepts, stuff that’s beyond the obvious, things I wouldn’t have otherwise expected.

Patti Hunt

“Be a people person.”

At MAKE, we look for people with great people skills, especially ones who have put it into practice in a way that benefits others.

For example, they may run an interesting community or meet-up group. They might be volunteer carers, or coaches or mentors in a local startup community. They might organise jams and hack-a-thons or other events related to service design.

Being active in a community signals that they are open and willing to put themselves out there and invite collaboration – a great foundation for a service designer!

Sarah Drummond

The main tip is: Get some experience working in a live service of any kind and help to improve it. You could volunteer at a small org, charity, or take a job that doesn’t have the word “designer” in it but gives you an opportunity to get close to service delivery.

This experience, for me, shows an understanding of how organisations deliver services, the materials that make it (e.g policy or finance or technical systems) and the individual’s ability to understand what needs to change and how to make it change.

I’m personally not interested in tools; I’m interested in people who have created interesting prototypes that have resulted in live service changes to improve things for users.

Fabian Segelström

Tough question. What popped into mind was: Depends on where you are in your career. From what I can see here in Sweden, working in an agency seems to be the most common way for junior designers. After a few years, many move in-house, but I can’t think of any people I met who started in-house.

For those transitioning I see two main ways. Changing job, and with that, changing your title, seems to be the way among those who do a “short” move. For those making a bigger leap career wise, I’ve noticed that many seem to start working for some governmental function as they do their leap.

Idris Mootee

Your question of what does it take for someone to get into service design? I guess it is hard to have a single answer without context. To generalise, to show that one can operate between digital and physical worlds. Many come from interactive and lack the skills to see what needs to happen behind the scenes. And those who work behind the interface often lack the understanding of many UX issues that are often the face of the service design. If a candidate can show experience/learning on both sides, that would make him/her stand out.

Emma Aiken-Klar

Yes, my tip for service designers is to have a good understanding/literacy for the business context in which they are designing. Being able to articulate the value of a design decision for the business and in a way that is relevant for the organisation is so helpful for implementation.

Also, being able to size an opportunity or make a business case for a design is very helpful.

Jose Mello

  1. Try to put yourself in your stakeholders’ shoes and understand what are the drivers of success they are looking for (from a business perspective). Can I translate that to WHY you were doing it?
  2. The second step is to frame what was done to support moving these needles (drivers) – This is the WHAT part.
  3. Then explain THE OUTCOME achieved.

Example:

A few years ago (almost 10 years now), I did a project to help a financial institution to redesign their online investment experience. Users would search online for investment options, but only 10% were buying online. Ninety percent preferred to speak to an agent, slowing the sales cycle and increasing the acquisition cost for each investment.

Let’s depict this example into the framework:

  1. Why: Speaking with an agent costs 10x more than the online experience. So, the main driver for the company is higher efficiency (cost reduction versus increase in sales).
  2. What: By analysing data, surveying and interviewing users, we found that 85% of the users who searched but didn’t buy online just wanted to check with someone if they were making the right choice before committing to the investment. So we created a series of videos of 1 minute each to highlight the main reasons to invest and a link to send a direct message (chat) to an agent in case they don’t find their answer in the videos. The agent would need to respond within 5 minutes (the duration time of the online browse session) to support the user to close online. Here is the moment where you can show a few pics, the videos or the website or whatever you have.
  3. The outcome: In 3 months after launching the short video series, online sales tripled (from 10%-30%), and we could reduce the acquisition cost by 75% and the sales cycle from 3 days to 10 minutes. In 12 months this resulted in an additional contribution of more than USD 2 million, by just reducing the amount of time people spent over the phone advising customers (reduction in the sales cycle) and [increasing] productivity, as now an agent was able to support up to 100 customers a day, 10x more than they used to in the past.

So, it is more about the result than the video itself. This is a case of efficiency. I picked this one because I think it is easier for everyone understand. But I could have other ones. I recently did an experiment in Chile with a new product that went wrong. So, the learning was about cost avoidance. We did an experiment spending USD 5K in 7 weeks, which helped us learn that the product was not adequate to the consumer needs. We avoided months of product and IT development and millions in investments by just doing that.

Second answer

This is a very good question. For me, in order for service designers to get hired, I think they also need to bring a perspective on how their work, how their design add value to the business from a business perspective. We are very used to just speaking to how our work adds value to the user or to the end consumer. But I think we also need to incorporate another perspective – that is how they can help these companies to become more successful.

So, if I could give one single tip, one single [piece of] advice to everyone out there who is building their resumes, who is going on interviews right now, it’s to focus on that. Focus on that. Focus on: How you are adding value to the company on the work you did?

Marc Stickdorn

My tips are rather superficial, I guess: When hiring someone in service design, I never look for service design. For me, the “service designer” doesn’t exist since it is a team sport with many different skills.

I look for (design) researchers, facilitators, UX, UI, graphic designers etc. but not for service designers. So, my tip would be: Be clear about what you’re good at, which skills you bring to the table. Certifications and education don’t matter anymore. Your experience is what’s of interest. Keep this in mind for your portfolio and show your skills. What I always look for are combinations of topics, e.g. a lawyer who got into design or a designer with a software engineering background.

This is really interesting as they speak multiple professional languages. And remember: If you’re good at everything, you’re probably not really good at anything… 🙂

Patrick Bach

My biggest tip for anyone is to have a portfolio of 1-3 projects that focuses less on visuals/outputs/artefacts and more on process.

A good interviewer should be able to tell me the harrowing tale of a service design project they worked on. As we know, every project is fraught with challenges, and someone who is able to clearly articulate what choices were made, why, what the ups and downs were etc… will go far.

It’s also a useful way to understand whether someone just knows how to “follow the steps” they read in a book or they demonstrate a deeper understanding of the methods and tools, that they are able to self-reflect and have deeper insights (about the project itself, not insights from any research they may have conducted).

It’s difficult to explain, but an element of it is someone’s storytelling abilities. Can they walk me through a project in such a way that I can imagine myself there? Without visuals or artefacts, just with their words.

The other element would be self-awareness. Is the person demonstrating sufficient self-awareness about themselves, the project, the team etc… and using that to highlight opportunities/challenges etc…?

Angelica Flechas

If you’re looking for a tip for finding a job in the service design field, I think a good one is to build your communication skills. Because when we are designing a service, we need to take care of the touchpoints that are the components that make the service come to life. And one of the touchpoints are the channels.

And when you want to design a channel, you need to take care of the tone, and you need to then take care of the channel content to get it right. And if you don’t have really good graphics skills or you don’t have really good copy skills, that could be an obstacle.

So please try to practice in this communication part. Try to read a lot about graphic design because when you are creating this new service, you need to design. It’s not only about thinking about the service, it’s also about designing the service. And when you are almost there and create the new service, you need to shape it and make it real.

And sometimes I have seen designers that come to my company and they say that they can do it, but when they are almost to the final track of the project and they need to build the final part, which is designing the channels or designing the final touchpoints, they don’t have those skills.

So I think that one could be a really good tip.

Judy Mellet

The way I approach any new role on my team is to evaluate the skills we have and then identify those that we need to supplement our team. The aim is to have BALANCE, BREADTH and DIVERSITY (diversity can be gender, backgrounds, culture, experience, education etc.) on our team.

For example, we lost a couple of people who offered a lot of strong project management skills and so need to fill that gap, OR we have too many internal people who know telecom well and need outside industry talent, etc. etc. This is fluid and can depend on the needs of the business and the make-up of my team at any given time.

For senior roles: diversity of experience and application of practice in different project types (everything from strategic to tactical). I am most curious about how they approached a particular problem, how they collaborated with other members of their design team, what their role/contribution was to the team and to the project/client, and what the IMPACT of their work was. The more different applications of their experience, the better. The more breadth of the different hats they wore, the better. Sometimes you lead, and sometimes you contribute to others who are leading (specific phases of the project).

For junior roles AND for senior roles: I want to see the values and behaviours cited in examples that are not necessarily project or practice related. What are you curious about? What motivates and inspires you? What irks you, and what do you do about it? What do you get so excited or annoyed by that it spurs you to action? What are those actions? What were the results from your actions? When did you not have something clearly defined, and what did you undertake and do to get clarity?

The above values are so much harder to assess and discern, so this is where references are important.

When I’m mentoring people, I offer my perspectives on how I staff projects. When an important or urgent/critical/high profile project comes in, these are the questions I have:

Who do I need – skills, attitudes – as a collective to deliver on this? The most important thing is attitude. When this project has setbacks or encounters roadblocks (as all projects do at some point) or becomes ambiguous or overwhelming, who are the people you can count on that are reliable, persist and are committed to the team? Who is going to show initiative and pick up roles “outside their scope” and identify what needs to be done and contribute beyond what was originally defined rather than wait to be prescribed actions?

If you are not consistently sought to work on these types of projects, one has to ask themselves whether they need to find a new organisation, career or role type, or they need to upskill, or whether they need to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviours.

I know that’s really long, but hopefully it captures my “process”.

We’ve had a couple of projects where the stated reason for engaging with our team is not the actual reason. There are times when we are sought as a neutral and objective group to help re-enforce a position that our internal client has. In these cases, we need to tread delicately but also professionally, as we do not want our function to be one of “rubber stamping” someone’s motives/opinions.

We had a product development project a few years ago where we were brought in at the later stages of the process after some material decisions had already been made.

We understood that we were being asked to help validate the solution, and as we progressed through the discovery phases, learned that the decisions ran counter to what the work was unveiling BUT that it would not be well received by the senior leader to whom our internal client reported.

In this way, design can be a democratising force, as we were providing information that was from the clients’ perspectives. We devised unique ways (filming the story and client sessions) but also gave voices to others within the team that did not feel comfortable speaking up.

The team characteristics here are beyond design thinking. Skills that were key to outcomes were ones that understood the organisational dynamics and can strategise around it accordingly.

Lisa Lindström

To get hired as a service designer, I advise you to share your thinking on how service design has lead (or will lead) to sustainable change, transformation and innovation.

When a designer can prove that they master not only the tools and approaches, but also how it links to transformative actions and product and service innovation, that’s when I get excited!

Jamin Hegeman

What advice would I give to those aspiring to get a job in service design? Go to school. As someone who has hired many service designers over the years, this really sets you apart. And it’s what I did.

In my early thirties I stopped working and got a graduate degree in design, during which I also learned about service design. The ability to focus, build my skills and develop a portfolio were invaluable and helped get me to where I am today.

When I see formal design or service design education on a resume, it gives me confidence the candidate will have the skills I need. While it’s not for everyone, it’s a path worth considering.

Doug Powell

So, lots of thoughts on this topic but let me throw one out there. And it’s actually something that I would recommend to any designer.

But I think it’s particularly important for service designers because service design is an emerging practice and so much is changing with the practice and the methodology all the time. And that is to make sure that you’re owning your thought leadership and that you are publishing your ideas on the work that you’re doing.

It’s so easy now to put your ideas out there, whether it’s blog posts on Medium or conference talks or meet-ups, teaching a class either online or at a local school, or doing a podcast or a video series. When I’m considering a candidate for an open role, I want to get to know that candidate as well as I can.

And so I’m able to do that through their portfolio, through their LinkedIn profile, through their resume and CV, and through interviews and in-person interaction. Of course, in-person these days is increasingly difficult.

So, the thought leadership. A short series of blog posts, a short video or something that’s out there that I can access becomes a really good way to kind of add to the picture that I have of who that designer is and what their ideas are and what their point of view is.

So, it doesn’t need to be really, you know, in depth. It doesn’t need to be long form, heavily journalistic. It can be fairly lightweight. Think of a short series of Medium posts. But get it out there, and get it out there in a way that people can access it.

I think this is advice that can be equally as valuable for a student just about to begin their career all the way to somebody who’s in a leadership role and looking to really kind of advance their career at that level.

Regardless of where you are, you’ve got ideas, you’ve got a point of view that you need to put out there as a designer.

Bernardo Torres

Here is my key suggestion for people looking for work whenever you are in an interview or if ever you get asked to work on a business case: As part of the challenge of the recruitment process, I think you should let the team know that you can think beyond the frameworks and the tools. For me, that’s key.

I don’t want to see designers that are just able to use the tools. I like to see designers who understand the process as a guide, but not as laws. Of course, we want you to know about the process. Of course, we want you to know about the tools. But especially we want to know how you think. I want to see if you are able to always go further than the tools.

We use this kind of ambiguous business case in our recruitment process where we ask designers to go through the process of thinking about what would be the best approach to design a new digital bank. And most of the documents we get back, they’re usually super tool oriented. They fill out existent frameworks, and they go through just thinking in the current boxes.

We once had a designer that went through the hiring process. She understood that most of the methods out there were not really supplying her with the thought process she was looking for. So she created her own. And it’s pretty impressive for a 22-year-old, 23-year-old designer to come back with a document where she designs her own frameworks and thinking boxes. And then she expressed all of this complex content in very few slides.

She had this narrative around why she did it.

I want to see people think when I recruit them; I’m not just interested in how well they know the methodology or how good they are at using methods or tools. I want to see designers think and challenge common knowledge.


A big thank you to the lovely contributors and service design community members!

This article wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the 21 individuals who shared their personal tips and spent time formulating them in a way that you can benefit from them. A big thank you to you!

In no particular order, thank you Stine Ringvig Marsal, Priscila Williams, Joel Bailey, Jeneanne Rae, Luis Alt, James Samperi, Mahmoud Abdelrahman, Patti Hunt, Doug Powell, Sarah Drummond, Fabian Segelström, Idris Mootee, Emma Aiken-Klar, Jose Mello, Bernardo Torres, Marc Stickdorn, Patrick Bach, Angelica Flechas, Judy Mellet, Lisa Lindström, and Jamin Hegeman.

We really appreciate your help and time. 💌


Behind the scenes: why we prepared this article

We are working hard every day of the week to help service designers go forward in their careers. We obviously do that through articles like this one. But we also do it by scouring the web every day to find new and hidden job opportunities for service designers.

Service Design Jobs from the  Service Design job board
The service design job board

We hope this article helped you to rethink how you’ll apply to the next service design opportunity you see. We wish you a wonderful job hunt!

📨 Get the weekly newsletter with service design jobs and career advice directly in your inbox 

Check out the fancy legal stuff

Made with 😎 in 🇨🇭 and 🇳🇱 by Daniele Catalanotto and Marc Fonteijn
The content of this website is provided under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 4.0