To whom should I address my cover letter?
This answer comes first, because it is the most frequently asked question! The answer is: “Dear Recruiting” or “To Whom It May Concern” is just fine. Since, chances are, you don’t personally know anyone in the recruiting group, having a name won’t make any difference. We promise.
How should I apply?
Apply directly for the position you are interested in from our current listings. Please make sure you qualify for the role before applying. It is okay to apply for positions in multiple offices, but applying for positions you do not qualify for will not increase your chances (and will likely raise a red flag within the recruiting team). Include a cover letter and résumé (copy and pasted) on the résumé page for your application. Alternately, you may wish to upload your résumé and cover letter as separate attachments in the “Résumé Attachments” section of your application through the ‘Career Center’. In addition, design applicants should include a PDF or URL of a digital portfolio of your work. Attachments must be formatted as an Adobe text- based .pdf, PowerPoint or word document. (A physical portfolio doesn’t work well to give you the most exposure to the people who need to evaluate your work.) After applying, we will contact you within about four weeks if we are considering your application.
I really want a job at IDEO! How can I get hired?
IDEO looks for talented people who have a wide range of interests. Most new hires have advanced degrees or significant experience working in a specific field, but they’re not specialists. We look for people with at least one deep area of expertise and a broad reach of other skills and experiences to draw on, whether from past employment experience or personal endeavors.
In addition, great candidates have experience, comfort, and desire for doing their work in teams. IDEO projects are highly collaborative, and project teams typically comprise people from multiple disciplines within IDEO, from our client, and sometimes other partners from our talent ecosystem.
We hope to find answers to these types of questions: What do you offer? What is your commitment to design? What are your goals? Who else can validate your story? Once we get started in the interview process, we talk to your references, and have enough substantial conversations with you to learn who you are and help you get to know IDEO.
How does the recruiting process work?
We have a small central recruiting team who works with people in each of our locations to manage job listings, read incoming applications, determine fit, and coordinate the interview and offer process.
A candidate who comes for an interview may meet more than a dozen people. Candidates should bring examples of work they’ve done, cool stuff that they are passionate about, and things they want to do. Interviews range from pointed questions about work examples to casual conversations about life.
After a series of interviews, we all get together as soon as we can, share notes, and ask each other, “Can you see working with this person? What will they bring to this team?” The decision that a candidate will bring a lot of value to us—and that they’re going to get a lot of value out of being here—has to be championed by most everyone in the room.
Will you contact me regarding the status of my application?
We regret that we can’t reply personally to each submission. We will review and share your submission with the appropriate people inside IDEO. If there's an immediate match between your talents and our needs, we will contact you directly within four weeks. (If you do not hear from us within that time, please assume that we do not have an appropriate opportunity at this point, but will certainly keep your talents in mind and your qualifications on file for any appropriate openings which may develop in the future.)
Do most new hires come from employee referrals?
About half of our candidates come from employee referrals and the rest either approach us directly, come from recruiting agencies, or from targeted searches.
Do you require years of experience, or do you hire direct from school?
We think it is important for our continued success that we bring in people from both ends of the spectrum to keep us fresh and to import new ideas, perspectives, and experiences. In some cases we need a seasoned professional who can hit the ground running and help us push in a new direction, while in others we have a solid, supportive professional network in place that can help a less experienced person grow and thrive.
How can candidates stand out?
We want to know as much as we can about a candidate, not be impressed by fun fonts or clever gimmicks. Different roles require different presentations: If you have a design background, the aesthetics of your résumé matter more than those with a business background, where your impact and clarity of thinking will be the big clues.
We need everything you send to us to be digital, including your portfolio. There are lots of people who will view your work, often while they travel, so digital formats work best. Please provide your work in a PDF format or provide a link to a website so we can give you maximum exposure inside IDEO.
Degrees are important, but not necessarily because of which school it’s from. We have people at IDEO from all kinds of degreed programs around the world. Help us get to know you by including additional credentials and distinctions as you see fit.
Design is both aesthetic and pragmatic. Too much information can be overwhelming, while too little leaves others to fill in the gaps, so find a balance by sharing themes and priorities. Attention to detail matters to us greatly, and a résumé with errors can be a big deal.
How do you determine cultural fit?
We see ourselves as a mosaic of individuals, where the big picture is beautiful but each individual is different. Your passions, your enthusiasm, your ability to collaborate, your travel adventures, the latest book you’ve read, what music you crave, or a movie you hated… We ask ourselves, “Would we want to travel with this person? What will this person be like at dinner, or during a brainstorm, or during a conflict?” We are eclectic, diverse and there is always room for another angle.
Good candidates offer more than a list of former jobs they’ve had or courses they’ve taken. We sometimes read résumés from the bottom up, because what you’ve accomplished outside of work may tell us as much as what you’ve done as someone else’s employee. Use your cover letter to tell a story that may not come through on your résumé. Help us connect the dots; tell who you are, for real.
What’s in it for me?
We strive to be an extraordinary and sustainable workplace for world-class professionals. We’ve applied the human-centered design process to our own organizational structure and processes, and we continually fine-tune our system to ensure that we effectively address employee growth and wellness.
We think it’s important to examine all the factors that are valuable to a relationship between you and IDEO, not just the obvious ones like pay and benefits. We’ve learned that while money is an important component of offering a great place to work, it’s not the single most important aspect. Here are four aspects of why we think IDEO is a great place to work:
Unique work opportunities: IDEO attracts the most interesting, diverse, and difficult set of design challenges in the world, in both the private and public sectors. We offer opportunities to work across a variety of products, services, industries, clients, technologies, and experiences, in a volume and scale that is hard to match anywhere. We give teams the power to build relationships with influential clients and organizations and we provide a high degree of autonomy to guide the work and generate excellent, appropriate, and delightful design solutions.
Talented and diverse people: We hire talented design thinkers who represent many perspectives, disciplines, nationalities, and points of view. We believe a civilized workplace is a more rigorous and sustainable place to work, so we don’t hire jerks. (Please see The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton, Stanford professor and IDEO Fellow, or read his blog.) We provide ways to share knowledge and projects among our people, believing that we all work better and learn more when we freely interact and collaborate with other talented people.
Supportive and inspiring spaces: People thrive when they work in stimulating, comfortable, and well-located places. We try to be in cities where people like to be and that offer facilities and workspaces that promote collaboration and inspire great design. We provide resources and leaders who craft community as a primary element of their jobs. We believe this is far better than working out of your basement or in a corporate cubicle!
Compensation and benefits: Ah, money! We offer competitive base compensation and paid time off in addition to a variety of employment benefits including discretionary profit sharing, sponsored healthcare, dental, vision and disability insurance, 401k matching or contributory pension schemes, and other employee assistance and outplacement benefits. Other perks include public transportation benefits and fitness programs — including yoga and pilates — and we provide as much free, nutritious food as possible.
I still have questions. May I talk with someone?