Why is it so difficult to find a good apparel technical designer? / by Lana Grant

First factor, is that for many years we did not have a proper or specific technical design education. In the past few years, our profession has been recognized as a valuable trade tool and apparel technical design courses are offered in colleges. This is good news for the trade, but at the same time, we cannot tell how ready those newly graduated students are right after college. It’s understandable that graduates usually start their technical design careers at assistant level, however the industry needs already experienced TD’s.

We have many professional recruiting agencies offering their help in finding and placing technical designers. How do those agencies check the skill level of a candidate? Unfortunately, on many occasions, the candidates who are recommended by recruiting agencies are not up to the desired skill level. Why this is? No one is really sure.

During my career, I have seen many professional looking resumes with many years of technical design experience and, surprisingly, that candidate would fail a simple TD test. An impressive resume by itself is not an indicator that the technical designer knows the trade well or is up to your company’s standards.

Usually, when a company is interviewing for a TD position, it is normal practice to test the skills, including a pattern making test. I remember one of my previous hiring managers told me that I was the only candidate who knew how to balance a pattern. That is shocking, because every experienced TD should have all related skills to the job, shouldn’t they?

Now, going back to the original question, why is it so difficult to find a good TD? Why do you think we have this problem? Can you share your experiences with hiring in our trade? Also, it would be interesting to hear about your personal encounters working with other recruiters and agencies.