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Career Advice

If you are thinking about a career in UX, focusing on qualifications is not always the right answer. I would always say a firm understanding of techniques and principles is essential.

If you are thinking about a career in UX, focusing on qualifications is not always the right answer. I would always say a firm understanding of techniques and principles is essential.

It’s a great position to be in, user experience designers are in high demand and because of this, I feel less inclined to advise you to focus on getting qualifications—experience is everything.

Businesses are investing so much into design because it gives them the advantage against their competitors. But it is becoming increasingly harder to fill the UX positions as there is simply not enough people out there—now is the time.

Hiring managers are spending weeks trying to take on someone with more experience but are failing to find anyone. This gives you a great opportunity because not only are you providing financial benefits to the company, but they can get someone who has learnt all the latest techniques and is ready to be moulded into their way of working—a win-win situation.

Feel free to get in touch to discuss your situation and we can chat through the best options.

“Hiring managers are gradually moving away from expecting the perfect UX unicorn” Becky Birch

If you need experience to get a job in UX, how do you get a job to gain the experience? I want to help you break into your first job but there are five things you need to do first.

 

1. Build a portfolio

Firstly, you need to showcase your design projects—a good UX portfolio is more than just a presentation of final mockups. It should explain your design process, understanding of UX principles and insights into visual design. (I would recommend at least 3 very strong projects to present).

Tip: A novice mistake is presenting yourself as a multi-disciplinary designer: UX, UI, visual, photographer, writer etc —build your portfolio around one area first.

“Good UX is good storytelling”

There are several ways of presenting your work; PDF format, Behance or have your own website but that is up to you. Firstly, I would recommend looking at some influential designers and see how they showcase their work.

 

Don’t have any previous work?
If you don’t have any that’s ok because there are three main ways of doing this.

 

Internship
As I previously mentioned, the experience is everything. If you can take on a 1-3 month internship I would highly recommend this! It comes back to the famous saying by Bram Wessel—not a shortage of talent or passion, but a shortage of applied experience.

This is the best way to learn everything you can about experience design and understand how to apply your knowledge to real-life situations. Remember, the recruiters want to see how you show your problem-solving skills.

Take on side projects
Have you experienced any problems on a website recently? If so, how would you create a solution to that? or perhaps talk to your family or friends to see if they have any opportunities. Once you have a concept, learn and apply the UX principles to your designs.

Do a course
You may benefit from having a set curriculum and being taught by instructors who have years of professional experience. Below I have listed a few popular courses but do your research first to see which course best suits you. It is very important to ensure the course you choose is going to be one that provides quality education and will be taken seriously by employers.

UX Training
Career Foundry
General Assembly
Interaction Design Foundation

 

Please don’t be fooled though, this won’t get you a job as it requires more than just a certification. Get in touch if you’d like me to review and give you suggestions to improve your portfolio.

“I am so happy I got in contact. Becky gave me portfolio advice and provided feedback I needed to land myself a job, Thankyou!” Katie M.

2. Find design mentors and friends

Learning new skills isn’t easy, but I have built a community of like-minded enthusiasts where no questions are right or wrong. I can help you overcome any obstacles, stay motivated and grow towards your goals.

Connect with our Slack Channel where we share ideas, experiences and discuss the difficulties we face. You should get involved – it’s a friendly place where no question is too foolish and no answer is dismissed.

Related article: 12 tips on the importance of networking as a UX designer
Related article: 15 books to help you become a skilled networker

 

3. Never stop learning

The digital world is constantly being reshaped as new technologies are introduced. A good UX designer lives and breaths their passion by reading books, blog articles and chats with other designers.

I would recommend the following books:

Sprint – Jake Knapp
The Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman
Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience – Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

 

4. Welcome rejection

Once you have set up an influential portfolio, updated your CV and spoke to a couple of professionals, its time to start applying for your dream job.

The perfect user experience role will focus on credentials, work experience and your cultural fit in the organisation. Be professional all of the time, tell a good UX story and demonstrate your problem-solving skills.

It is ok to get rejected but don’t give up. Nothing good comes easy and if you have a true passion you will learn and adapt from the mistakes you initially make. Be proactive and always ask for feedback from the companies that you apply for, this feedback is valuable.

Related article: Your UX portfolio goes on interviews without you

 

I am passionate about helping more people understand the importance of UX, build a career they love and become successful. Whatever the case, I am here to help.