When it comes to UX, it’s never one size fits all. When I talk with designers, I always talk about UX like it’s a spectrum. It’s everything from UX Research to Visual Design. As a UX Designer, where do you fall into that spectrum? It’s never as cut and dry as you think. Sure, there are consultants out there who can do end-to-end UX design. But truly, it’s never a simple plug and play.
There are unique qualities to every position (see graphic below) and every need. Just like in dating, not every person is right for you, not every job is right for every UXer. You want to figure out where you belong and what you need to be successful.
When you first start dating, you’re figuring out what you need as a person and in a partner. You start broad, start dating around, test those waters! Accepting any date that comes your way to figure out what type of person you fit best with. You put yourself out there to see what it’s like, hoping to meet someone incredible.
The same can be said for your career. I always recommend for my junior level consultants to get into new roles and do whatever they can. Date around, figure out what excites you. Find out what you hate and never want to do ever again!
Once you dive into the UX spectrum, you begin to figure out the countless roles and responsibilities. Let’s take UX Research for example. It’s not as cut and dry as, “I am a UX Researcher.” There are dozens of different methodologies and schools of thought for UXR. You can dive into the analytical quantitative side if you love facts, numbers and hardcore data. Or you can excel at qualitative methods, focusing on observational methodologies.
When you first start to date, you begin to find out exactly what you need and what best fits you and your life. Truth be told, you are going to change your mind about two million times regarding what you want. And that’s totally okay! Because, just like dating, the more you put yourself out there, the more you try your hand at new responsibilities, the more you will find out about yourself and what the right role is for you.
Exploring your options through contract work
Exploring different opportunities helps you find your niche. This is where contract positions are so valuable. Jumping on a contract allows you to try a job description or company out before fully committing. It’s like dating before marriage. Would you marry the very first person you dated out of college? Yeah, I didn’t think so!
The key takeaway from each contracting experience is that it gives you the opportunity to learn what you like, what you don’t like, where you did well and where you might have faltered. It allows us to see our strengths and weaknesses and the ability to further define our skillsets. You are able to capitalize on your successes and learn from your setbacks, bringing that new knowledge to your next UX role.
If your job search is dating, then your resume is your dating profile
Dating is hard and first dates can be the worst part! No one likes showing up to a first date thinking that they’re going to meet this incredible person they’ve been chatting up and then getting to the date only to meet someone completely different. I call this, false advertising.
Just like your dating profile, your resume and portfolio are spaces where you can share what you can bring to the table and why a company should choose you. This is your time to shine! Your resume should reflect who you are as a professional and be appropriate for the roles you’re looking for. It shouldn’t overexaggerate your experience, nor should you hide your awesome abilities.
My biggest piece of advice to my consultants when they are creating their UX resume or portfolio is to peacock. Peacock your resume! Show off those feathers, brag about your skills, build out comprehensive case studies to show your creative thought process. Broadcast why you’re the best person for the job, but never lie. Show off those skills, but don’t put a bunch of junk in it to make yourself seem like the best candidate. You want to be true and authentic to you and your experiences. Because if you’re not, well, it won’t bode well for you.
If you overexaggerate or fabricate, the truth will come out. Just like on your dating profile, you want to market yourself in the best light, but not lie about your truth, either. We have all been there…you show up to the date, excited to meet this person, then they turn out to be totally different…leaving you feeling unhappy, frustrated and annoyed. They wasted your time, and our time is precious! So, remember, the same thing goes for your resume and portfolio. Exaggerating your knowledge or experience in an area sets you and your future employer up to be disappointed.
We all need to be reminded that not every job, not every role, is going to be perfect for every single person. Just like we don’t always get along with every person we meet. We will get knocked down, we are tried and tested. We get defeated and beyond frustrated. But we must remember, that when we fall down, we have to pull-up our boots, dust off the dirt and keep going.
Especially right now. Job searching and dating look so very different in this wild world of Jumanji we are now living in. The old way of applying for jobs just doesn’t work. When you throw your name out into the ether you just become a number, another application set out into digital space to collect dust.
So, what do you do? You go back to the drawing board. You get crafty and scrappy. You reach out to all your connections, spur conversations, show up to online meetups and you learn to go old school, guerilla advertising style in order to get your name known.
Right now, it’s challenging you can’t really meet people face to face. You have to get creative. I won’t lie, it’s hard! (all things are hard right now) But if you get creative, if you do the work, it will pay off.
I have this thing, it’s called my coffee talk. With this, you start by brainstorming who you know who can help you get to where you are going. And it looks like this:
- First-tier connection: In dating, this would be your friend who could set you up on a date. In your job hunt however, this is the person who has connections to the field you are wanting to find a job in. Let’s say you’re looking for work in UX Design. You reach out to your friend and they give you the contact of a hiring manager at an agency. This brings you to your second-tier connection.
- Second-tier connection: Think of this like a blind date. Your friend helps get you in contact with a UX hiring manager at an agency. You grab virtual coffee with this person. They may not have a role for you, but who knows who they can help you meet? And around she goes.
Recruiters make great first tier connections. We can help set you up with valuable and qualified second-tier connections who may even have a role perfect for you. Looking for a job, like looking for a date, can be difficult to navigate. Especially in this increasingly virtual world. I’d love to chat with you and help out with all of your UX and creative needs. Feel free to reach out!
About the author
April Wallen is a Sr. Creative Recruiter with Synergis Creative, working for the San Francisco office. April joined our team in August but has been in the staffing industry for 10+ years. When she’s not working, April lives for the mountains. In rain, shine and even snow, you can catch her outside backcountry skiing, trail running, alpine and rock climbing and everything else in between.