We've all been there, haven't we? Looking through countless job postings only to find that one that reads something like this:
We Are Looking for a passionate designer to join our team! Do you have what it takes to join this amazing company? 
Must Haves:
• Be a print design expert
• Know Adobe Creative Suite perfectly
• Have AI level coding skills
• Be able to handle System Admin/Ops work
• Understand no less than 4 different coding languages
• Data processing knowledge necessary
• Can make websites & Apps 
• Can insure videos go viral
• Can make motion graphics
• Can make a logo in a week
• Can do 100 burpees in 10 minutes
• Be Milton Glaser's personal protege 
• 5 years experience in everything.
Okay, so maybe that's a little...extreme, but you know what I'm getting at. The dreaded "Unicorn Wanted" ad. The ad that so blatantly says "we need a multi-faceted in-house design team that handles various specialties, but only want to pay one person to do it all" (and sometimes not that well either.)

Design is much like medicine: everyone has their own specialty. 
What's the problem here? Well, it's pretty simple really, and it's more than just the company not wanting to hire more than one person (no, really it is!) It all comes down to the fact that they have no idea what Graphic Design is as a field, or what we really do; or don't care to take the time to find out. 
Most people assume when you say "I'm a graphic designer" that you make logos and websites all day, what they don't assume is that it's much like medicine: each designer has their own specialty. A UX Designer isn't going to have the same skills as a Branding based designer, and for that matter designers aren't IT professionals so system administration is out. 
Design is the field, but the niches are the specialties - you wouldn't ask a Orthopedic surgeon to operate on a brain tumor would you? The same idea applies with asking a web designer to make a 40 page branded magazine layout (Seriously recruiters, do not do this. Hire the right people for the job).

So, how as a designer do you handle these ads? 

The answer is simple: These ads are a red flag to watch out for as an informed job seeker. 
Unless it is a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime offer, don't apply. These ads are a red flag of how you would be treated should you be employed as this company's designer - you will have the universe expected of you with impossible standards to meet, with people who have little to no idea what value you bring to the table. They are also a red flag of how out of touch with reality the recruiter or company's HR is - Unicorns aren't real, and all these ads to is further frustrate job seekers, and cause regret in recruiters.
Personally, I use the "Unicorn Ad" as my first litmus test for the company that is posting the offer, and it usually means I'm going to pass on it. If they don't understand what I do then they don't understand my value, and I've spent too long in my career trying to argue my value with those who don't care. Why waste your talent, energy and creativity like that? Furthermore, why devalue yourself like that?
The job search is as much about companies finding a proper fit in a candidate as it is about the candidate finding a proper fit in the company. Think of it like dating, you don't need to take just anyone who comes along, you deserve someone that loves and respects you. 
Of course, whether or not you apply for a job is up to you, all I can say is that the "Unicorn Wanted" ad for me is like if some guy on Tinder puts "Hates Dogs" in his profile - immediate deal breaker.
Back to Top