Get your first UX Job – 10 tips to get hired
6. Use social media to get attention
Nick Babich, Software developer and Headboy at UX Planet, recounts a tale where someone did a redesign of an existing app for a bank and published the designs along with justifications of why his was better in a blog post. Shortly after that, he got a call from the company’s HR offering them a job.
Presenting the value that you can bring to the company upfront, and then using social media to get attention.
Action: take an active interest in companies that you’d like to work for following them on Twitter and Linkedin and even blog about them.
7. Show that you have empathy for others
Chris Lloyd, UX Specialist at Digital Arts Network says understanding how people communicate is crucial – not just for the UX job interview but for everything we do as practitioners.
CareerFoundry mentor, Chava Canolli agrees saying:
UX is not only user experience [the discipline], but it is the experience for the user.
Empathy is a big part of understanding the user, their experience and how they communicate. And the very best way to get empathy for the user is to immerse yourself in their world via field studies.
Check out Pete Smart’s 50 Design Problems In 50 Days: Real Empathy For Innovation for some inspiration.
Action: Undertake a project where you have to really get under the skin of a user and solve a problem for them and document it.
8. Offer to work for free
Dominira Saul, Chief Experience Architect, Akendi started off working for free:
I got my first job in UX as I was just finishing up my undergraduate degree. I had just about 10 months before I was due to move to the UK and start my masters in UX and I wanted to know if this was the right career path for me.
I had previously met the director of the UX group at a software company called Cognos. So I proceeded to beg him to allow me to spend some time working in his group. “I’ll work for free!” was my response when he told me that he didn’t have any co-op placements available. “I’ll make you coffee… whatever you need, just let me see how a real UX team functions.
I didn’t have a desk, I sat at a table in the hall, they managed to find me an old laptop to work on. It was there in that hallway at my makeshift desk that I fell in love with UX. The connections that I made with the people on that team are still alive today almost 20 years later
We all have to start somewhere. If it is taking you a while to find work or if you want some experience to add to your CV, consider helping out with a charitable UX project via an organisation such as UX for Change or Code for America or taking an internship.
Action: Find out what charitable UX projects are happening near you
9. Be prepared to work in different working environments
There are plenty of niche environments and hybrid UX roles that will suit people with different tolerance levels and skill sets. As an example, when I first worked as a UX Designer, I maintained aspects of my project manager role to suit the company’s needs.
Also in my current role, I started an email newsletter for our user base which is not something in my job description but something I enjoy doing and is helpful to my company.
Action: Find yourself a niche – seek for the jobs that you could do but others couldn’t or ones that combine UX with your other skill sets.
10. The UX portfolio
As someone who didn’t come from a design background, I was really uncertain about what I could offer an organisation and was worried i would have to put together a beautiful and unique portfolio where a UX portfolio was turned into a conversational interface.
However, don’t panic – we are on the crux of a UX portfolio revolution.
Timothy Jaeger in his article ‘refuse to create a UX portfolio’ says:
The end solution does not communicate how effectively we solve problems.
Being a UX designer is about being a problem solver. Most UX portfolios show examples of deliverables but there is no context.
If you want to show that you are a competent UX designer (or at least that you understand what the role entails) build a UX portfolio based on 2-3 projects where you tell a story of the problem solved and the processes involved.
If you don’t have enough real projects these could be from Hackathons, conferences or ideas you’ve had based on your own experiences.
One of our UX Mentors, Lara Marsh offers this advise:
It’s important to show your enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Go out and start reviewing websites or apps, or look for work experience to be able to build a portfolio showcasing your skills.
It is fine to have a PDF file portfolio rather than a web page – particularly if you are looking for a more user-research based role.
Also If you want to have more examples of how you think online without having to build a website consider writing a blog for a UX website.
Action: Start building a portfolio today and join our free UX Mentorship Program by UXr to get expert advice on your UX portfolio. Never send out your portfolio without having it checked by at least a couple of people first.
Hopefully these tips help with finding your first UX job. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns on breaking into UX.
- Steve Krug – Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Voices That Matter)*
- Don Norman – The Design of Everyday Things, revised and expanded edition*
- The UX Mentorship Program by UXR
* We earn a small commision if you purchase via these links. The price to you is not affected.