Jason Fried

June 7, 2021

Hiring future perfects

Last week I announced an open call for product designers, and we've already heard from some outstanding candidates. Huge thanks to everyone who's applied so far. I'm reviewing every application personally, and it's been a joy. Lots of smiles. Keep 'em coming!

Unlike years past when we had a specific position to fill, and a deadline in which to full it, this time we're going to hire as many irresistible designers as we meet, and keep the open call going for the foreseeable future. If you're great, and you want build a career at Basecamp, we want to hear from you, no matter when.

We're aiming to build the best, and the biggest, product design team we've ever had. We're overflowing with original ideas for Basecamp 4 and HEY, and we don't want to wait forever to do them, so we're simultaneously building up significant new capacity on the design and programming side to be able to work on many more things at once.

As we begin reviewing some candidates, I reminded that one of the biggest challenges when hiring someone is trying to envision their potential.

Sometimes someone’s a sure bet. Their pedigree is exceptional, their portfolio is stocked with amazing work, their experience is vast, they’re a confident interview, and everything just feels perfect. They're obvious.

It happens, but that’s not how it usually works. There are very few perfect people.

Instead there’s a lot of future perfect people. People who have the potential to become the perfect person in the perfect role if just given the right opportunity.

When I hire designers, I'll of course take a perfect person now, but I really enjoy looking for future perfect people. Some people have the potential, but they haven’t had the opportunities. Their portfolios are full of mediocre work, but it’s not because they’re mediocre designers. It’s because they’ve been given mediocre opportunities.

Sometimes designers are held back by onerous process. Other times they're held back by a client. Other times they're held back by business constraints. Other times their days are fragmented by meetings, and they simply don't have the time to dig into uninterrupted hours of deep creative work. Other times their work is focus-grouped to death. Other times their work is great when delivered, but diluted by future changes out of their control. Other times their most interesting designs are quashed by a management team that's afraid to step outside the mainstream. Other times they may do excellent work, but the final decision makers have something else in mind.

While it’s a bonus to find that perfect person today, I love betting on people with potential. When they finally get that chance to do their best work, they blossom in such a special way. There's nothing like it.

And as the owner of a company, few things make me prouder than seeing someone excelling in a way that their resume/portfolio/references wouldn’t have suggested they could.

You're out there, and we're looking for you. I hope we connect.

About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.