How does one get a job as a web designer in this day and age?

I have been WordPress developer selling themes at themeforest for the past three years. I’ve made a good living but due to the steady and constant increase in competition I have decided to leave it behind and look for a salary job in my city (Pittsburgh). I have been searching job listings on indeed for “Web Designer”, “UI Designer”, “Front End Developer”, “Graphic Designer” etc. for a few months now and I have noticed one thing:

Almost every single job listing for any of those titles lists things under required skills that are far above and beyond the position and that is under “required skills”, not even the “bonus if you have these” section. It is to the point that it is unreasonable. For example, most graphic design listings say that strong knowledge of hml5 and css are required. Web design jobs want people who thoroughly know jquery, javascript, php, sql, some random js frameworks, etc. Front end developer jobs want someone who has experience with mvc frameworks, .Net, and ioS in addition to pretty much all of the skills listed for the other jobs.

I am a web designer and I have a pretty damn good eye for design. I have used html and css for like 10 years and I regularly keep up on most of the new things in css3 and html5 (css animations and transitions, semantic html5 stuff). I have lots of experience with WordPress and some but not a lot of experience with php and jQuery/javascript. Still, even after doing real web design and development work for the past 3 years and having my work bought by thousands of customers, I feel very under-qualified for almost all job postings for positions I feel I should be able to do.

The hardest part is that there aren’t just a couple skills that are needed. At least then I could just focus and really learn them. There are several required skills on most jobs that I am not familiar with and they are mostly different for each job. It seems impossible to learn every one of these technologies before being employed.

So my question is, how should I approach this process of finding a web design job? Is it reasonable to think I could find a job in the near future or should I just try to start freelancing?

Welcome to the forums

It’s not unusual for job adverts to ask for a huge list of “required skills”, some of them can be quite ridiculous and often unrealistic. I would say that any web designer should be fluent on HTML/CSS, and at least be able to work with a Javascript framework as a minimum - all core skills.

I’d say just apply for as many jobs as you can, even if you don’t have all the skills being asked for. Getting interviews and selling yourself well may be enough for someone to take you on, and allowing for some on the job training so you can catch up on missing skills.

I think you have to stress on your real on the job experience when you are applying for the jobs. Secondly, it is good to show that you are open to learning by taking up online courses on the most required topic(s). Remember, these days companies are employing people (not just skills). They look at who you are as much as what you know. Try to get interviews and think about how to sell your services.

Many people who claim to know things turns out to be being economical about the truth. And people who know things think that what they know may not be enough. I would thick the box if I have basic knowledge. You really don’t need to be proficient on them in most cases. Good luck.