The digital product design community is integral for organizations forced to accelerate their digital transformation efforts because of COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean that they were not impacted by layoffs, despite experts like McKinsey reporting that companies that leverage design see 56% higher total returns over five years.
Enter The Amazing Design People List (adplist.org), built over a few weeks in April 2020. It’s a simple concept: a platform—created by two designers in Singapore and Ghana, with the support of InVision’s Design Forward Fund—to connect unemployed designers with mentors who help them uplevel skills and connect them to companies with open roles. Designers join and build a profile for free. Mentors give back to the community by opening up their calendars (literally, via a Calendly integration) for meaningful 1:1 connections. Recruiters search through profiles and post jobs. Since April, ADP List has grown to 5,000+ participants and arranged dozens of job placements.
At InVision, we care deeply about digital product design, and even more deeply about people within the industry. We’re committed to the community with our Design Leadership Forum for design leaders; our podcast that features industry game changers; and, of course, with our software. Yet it’s the ADP List, filled with diverse, intellectually curious designers seeking new connections, that’s becoming a lifeline for those struggling with confidence, social isolation, and unemployment.
These are tough times in the design community; we are glad that we can do our part to keep it vibrant and strong.
ADP List was not intended to be another job marketplace. Yes, we connect quality designers with quality opportunities, with scope that is global, far-reaching, and inclusive. But our mission is more specific: to serve the design community via valuable networking, mentorship, and genuine feedback.
Like any strong design team, we started by asking, “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” For unemployed designers (and frankly, for many professional tracks) there’s a lack of feedback during the recruiting process. When someone doesn’t get an offer, they’re usually left wondering why. What set the winning candidate apart from me? What do I need to work on? These lingering questions are even more critical in a contracting job market suffering through a pandemic. Design, more so than other industries, is a discipline that relies on how a potential hire shares and explains past creative and design work as an indicator of future success.
That’s why there’s more to being on ADP List than just having a profile. We created a community built on mentorship, networking, and even friendship that improves designers’ skills and marketability enough to land a better job than what would have been possible before. Experts in the field, like InVision’s own design evangelist, Stephen Gates, and also including Kim Williams, Head of Product Design at Minted, and others from companies such as Google, Spotify, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Facebook, sign up to mentor the design world’s up-and-comers with resume review, portfolio review, coaching, and good old-fashioned dialogue, coordinated via in-platform meeting requests. Once confirmed via Candidly, mentors make themselves available, literally opening up their home via virtual meeting to a rising designer. Mentees access and learn from the best of the best. The mentor, on the other hand, is able to pay it forward to the rest of the industry during the pandemic.
Of course, the platform itself is simple and easy (as any well-designed user experience should be). Designers can join ADP List and design a profile that reflects who they are and what their work represents. It’s also easy for companies to post freelance and full-time jobs and find qualified people who meet their criteria.
Throughout all of this, we never take our eyes off our goal: helping designers find exciting, challenging, and worthwhile job opportunities in today’s market. That’s because it is this entire community of designers—from recent boot camp graduates to unemployed designers, and high-level design directors too—who will shape the digital products that the world uses to navigate our every day. It’s critical that the design community is harnessed, supported, and deeply connected, ready and able to build the best and brightest future of our world.
The ADP list has created a community during COVID-19, when people most need support. The numbers alone are compelling:
How many mentoring sessions have occurred: 5,200+ mentoring sessions since May with over 64k users on the platform. 1,500+ platform reviews for mentors.
The most in demand mentor: Michael Tam from Hong Kong
The most common question asked by mentees: How do I stand out from the crowd? How can I get a design job out of bootcamp? And what can I do to transit into design as a career?
Companies with the most mentors: LinkedIn (the rest are diverse)
Community and Mentor Statistics: Over 1,100 mentors on ADPList with ~70% male and ~30% female from over 30+ countries, speaks over 10 languages from diverse backgrounds.
The ADP list is geographically and ethnically diverse—a third is from the U.S., with other large contingents in Brazil, U.K., Singapore, and Canada.
Youngmin Kim’s story crystalizes the importance of ADP’s mentorship. She moved to the U.S. from Korea to pursue a Master’s Degree in Design and graduated in April. After job searching on platforms like LinkedIn left her frustrated, she stumbled across the ADP List. Within a month,, she was in a mentorship session with Kim Williams, Head of Product Design at Minted. Williams helped Youngmin navigate her job search, and provided valuable feedback on her portfolio. Hiring managers saw her applications, she could debrief after interviews, and she found a community.
She started her new job at Bevy a few months ago.
COVID has created isolation—and job losses—for designers. By creating networking, mentorship, and community, the ADP List helps replace what COVID has taken. Many of the designers, mentors, and community members tell us that it helps them both personally and professionally. That feedback makes it all worth it.