You’re just 10 expert tips away from your ideal UX design job. Learn how to market yourself as a UXer here!
Whether you’re a budding designer fresh out of university or an established UXer looking to advance your career, success in the field of UX requires hard work, dedication and a lot of rubbing shoulders with the right people.
But why is it such an uphill struggle? Let’s look at the facts. According to LinkedIn, the average entry level position for a UX designer requires at the very least a Bachelor’s Degree in design, solid knowledge of Sketch and Adobe and 3+ years real world UX design experience. Ouch. But if we dig a little deeper, what UX recruiters are really interested in is what you as an individual can bring to the company, according to UX lead recruiter, Alison Lawrence.
So how do you go about selling your UX skills, achievements and experience? Really, it’s a question of marketing. You’re selling your personal brand.
In today’s post, we’ve rounded up 10 great tips to help you market yourself as a UXer. Our UX experts discuss how anything from strong portfolio design, connecting to the UX community, utilizing storytelling and even blogging can help make the most of your personal brand.
So if you want to be taken seriously as a UXer, this post is a must-read. Here goes!
10 ways to market yourself as a UXer
Boris Iglesias, UX Architect & Consultant at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Boris says: attend UX meet ups, at least twice a year. Catching up with ex-colleagues, to discuss current projects -at meet-ups or grabbing lunch, is a great way to showcase your skills and keep your brand out there.
Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, are useful channels to post articles and generate discussion. But I would encourage UXers to engage in face-to-face interaction, as this will help your personal brand gain exposure.
Check out our list of the top 15 Twitter UX influencers to follow to help you find your niche.
The best way I have found to sell UX skills is to relate them to metrics: the UX Designer’s main objective is to solve problems and create higher returns. If you can make a case that demonstrates your ability to solve a business problem thorough effective design and team collaboration, and as a result, generate higher business metrics, that’s the most compelling argument an employer can hear.
Another important element is passion. UX Design (and design in general) is an activity that doesn’t stop at the close of business, it’s a life commitment. Passionate designers always see spaces to apply improvements, make processes simpler and objects or software easier to use. As a UXer, you have to show that you radiate this kind of passion. Everybody wants to work with passionate people.
We discuss how prototyping is an important skills for UXers in our case study with Boris here.
Maggie Paparella, UX/UI Designer at iPipeline
Maggie says: share more than just screenshots of your deliverables. If you’re interested in more than designing interfaces, explain the steps you took to get to the deliverable.
My experience has been that people want to know how you think when problem solving. It’s important to summarize the challenges you faced and how you reached the proposed solution. Don’t be afraid to admit failure, that’s part of the process and important to show you accept it. Share the next steps you did to overcome the failure, even if it wasn’t applied.
Here’s an example of Maggie solving real world UX problems.
Jack Strachan, UX Design Intern at Bosch Power Tools
Jack says: I think the trouble for UX designers trying to market themselves to the UX community is that there are so many different preconceptions of what UX actually is! I do believe however that the single most important way to market yourself and your personal brand is through effective communication. This could be through the use of stories, case studies or thoughtful posts. You need to be good at storytelling and making your ideas and value stand out.
Your application will have an experience, the people reviewing it will be your user. Skills are secondary to communication, think of the experience you can craft for them.
Read Jack’s Justinmind guest post us on the six most important lessons he learned at his first UX design job.
Robert Skrobe, UX Manager at Sabre Airline Solutions
Robert says: I’d recommend two courses of action. The first is to promote and market new updates to either your portfolio or projects you’re involved with.
The second is to showcase your voice and perspective. Whether it’s through podcasting, video blogging, writing an online article or showing some design ideas, control the narrative about your professional engagement. Let your professional brand carry you when you’re not around.
Get inspired by these awesome UX portfolios.
Siraj Salim, Head of UX at Science Navigation Group
Siraj says: one of the most important jobs of a UX designer is solving problems (providing simple solutions for complex problems) and working towards desired and favorable outcomes. When marketing myself as a UX designer I talk about the problems I have solved and the difference I have made. Ideally, UXers should quantify the outcomes and compare them with what was before and what was achieved after the UX solution was provided. Demonstrating that you are adaptable, open minded and that you don’t know everything are also fundamental and sought after qualities.
Additionally, your contribution to the UX community makes a difference. Sharing what you’ve learned with the people out there; be it within your organization or an online forum or a group, you won’t just create an impact, you’ll also learn a lot.
Nick Babich, UX specialist and Editor-in-chief of UX Planet Medium publication
Nick says: communication with your local UX community (participate in local events, conferences, etc.) and global UX community (using the power of blogging) is a great way to get involved.
I think it’s essential to have a solid portfolio of real-world projects and case studies. Based on the role you’re after, your case studies might be more focused on UX research (for Information Architects) or the visual part of design (for UX/UI designers).
Nick wrote a post on portfolio design to help showcase your work – check it out here.
Lara Hanlon, Designer in Residence, IBM Design at IBM
Lara says: the UX discipline is such a huge field. As a UX practitioner you’re expected to work across research, prototyping, testing, and often times content strategy, development, and visual design. And each of these fields, yet again, are pretty expansive and demanding of a particular skill set! So taking that into consideration, along with the fact that it’s simply impossible to be a master of all things (at least at the budding stage), take something that you’re suuuuuper good at and build around it.
Example: maybe you’re quite the ‘people person’ with high emotional intelligence and deep listening skills so when it comes to user research – interviewing in particular – you’re comfortable taking the lead and you always deliver. So why not let this be your USP (unique selling proposition)! Whatever your core strength and interest is, play to it.
I also think that the way you present your work is important (and often underrated). If there’s one thing that really irks me about UX portfolios, it’s the UX of UX portfolios. It sounds ironic, I know, but I honestly can’t count how many times I’ve viewed folios of candidates who claim to be UX designers yet when it comes to the design of their actual website it’s far from a pleasant user experience!
If potential employers can’t navigate your site, find content easily, or understand your project rationales…well, it’s probably not going to go in your favor. Keep it simple! Remember, think of your end-users: what do you want them to see and how do you want them to feel about you and your work?
Learn how Lara helps to create a design culture at IBM by enabling teams to create design-led outcomes together.
Andrea Picchi, Design Lead at British Airways
Andrea says: to increase your marketability as a designer, you have to develop your personal brand and professional reputation.
Developing your brand and reputation is a multidimensional challenge and you need to target diverse areas of your professional life. Personally, I believe we can summarize some of the essential steps to take as follows:
First, ask yourself: what do you stand for inside the design community? What are your personal values? How do these values affect your design work? What does design mean to you?
Then, make your “how” transparent. How does design align with your personal, and professional goals? How should we use design in our world? Make your “what” clear. What are you doing to pursue your vision as a designer? What’s your role in the grand scheme of things and inside the design community?
At the end of this introspective journey, you need to build your digital presence in order to attract like-minded individuals and companies. I believe this is the foundation of every solid personal brand. Once this foundation is in place, you can use it to build your reputation as a designer on top of it.
Mento, Peer-to-Peer mentoring for the UX community
Mento says: although it’s almost crazy that this is still a thing, showing you understand the business side will help you stand out. I believe it’s essential for good ux.
Learn how to calculate your UX value in dollars and cents here.
UserGoodness, UX research and design consultancy
UserGoodness says: the best way to sell your skills is by showing them through effective storytelling, otherwise folks will just remain confused about what UX is and how it would help them.
Bonus tip from UX Designer Lee Wells
For anyone brand-new to the field of UX, you’ll need all the help you can get when applying for your first UX gig. Lee says you need:
- To have a team attitude. Nothing is “go sit at your desk and turn something in to me” anymore. You really need to be able to work as a team with other designers and developers. At the same time though, you have to have strong designs and recommendations, and be able to explain and stand behind them. This is often a fine line to walk. Master this and you are one step closer to being awesome!
- To understand how “best design practices” and “business needs” work together. I have been in many meetings where design just can’t let go of their ideas. Again, be a team player!
- To keep on top of what’s out there, but have your own opinion/take on it. I don’t want you to tell me about the latest iOS or Material design trends. I want to know what you think about them and how you gain inspiration from them.
- And most important of all… you need to know your value and worth, but don’t put money first. This may seem obvious, but I have met well-paid designers who hate their job, poorly-paid designers who love their job, and everything in between. Find a company that offers a subject matter that interests you. This will definitely let you, and everyone around, see your full potential!