How to Land a Job in UX/UI Design
Some of the most popular careers in design today are in User Experience - but without prior work experience in the field, landing the job can be tricky. While employers tend to seek out candidates who bring fresh perspectives to the table, it can still be difficult to get your foot in the door. However, it’s not a lost cause. If you can focus your efforts, dedicate time to networking, and spend time crafting your portfolio, we’re confident you can land your dream job in UX/UI.Here are some things to keep in mind while you search for your perfect opportunity in the UX design industry.
What is UX/UI Design?
UX stands for User Experience, and UI stands for User Interface. A UX/UI designer is responsible for the design and implementation of a successful user interface - think, creating a seamless experience for the consumer who visits a brand’s site or online platform. This position requires creativity and the technological experience to keep up with changing trends in user interface technology. The goal of a UX/UI designer is to understand the company’s target user and design a platform that flows well and creates a positive experience, leading to more customer interactions and conversions.
What are you most interested in?
The field of UX design is pretty broad, so it’s important to determine which aspects of it interest you the most. UX and UI designers are responsible for marrying visual and functioning interface design, UX researchers focus more specifically on researching user trends and analysis, UX writers control and guide user-focused content, plus there can be hyper-specialized roles focused on solely conducting usability tests to determine the end viability of a project. Take some time to look at a few job descriptions to see which roles pique your interest. Once you figure out the part of UX/UI design that is most appealing to you, the next step will be to specify the hard and soft skills you’ll need to hone.
What skills do you already have? What do you need to work on?
Some of the most important elements of any UX design role are transferable from previous experiences, whether those prior experiences are design-related or not. Do you have a background in marketing and business? Market research skills can translate to UX research skills and business modeling can have similarities to UX workflow processes. How about working in quality assurance or data analytics? Skills associated with these experiences can translate to usability testing and validation of UX solutions, respectively. You may not have to start from scratch, and an employer will appreciate the relevant experience you bring and how it informs your current work.When taking stock of what UX/UI roles require, it’s a good idea to get industry tips and advice from reliable channels that are delivered directly to you. It’s worth subscribing to a few YouTube channels like The Futur and CareerFoundry to learn more about the many facets of UX/UI design, as well as following well-established industry blogs like UXPlanet and UX Collective. If you’re more of an auditory learner, try checking out some design podcasts instead. It’s a great way to stay on top of the ever-evolving trends in user-interface technology.
Never stop learning.
A degree in interface design, while useful, is not necessary to get started in the UX/UI field. What you’ll need to get noticed by a hiring manager are demonstrable skills and an understanding of key UX/UI design principles (research, design, testing, implementation). In today’s digital era, almost anything can be found online for free and self-paced courses are an excellent way to learn about specific tools that UX designers utilize in everyday operations. If you’re seeking more intense, relevant, and practical experience you can sign up for training programs. Designlab, General Assembly, and Springboard have programs well worth investing in to further your hands-on training and overall understanding of the industry. Most of the time when you take a course or participate in a boot camp in design, there will be numerous opportunities to create projects that you can curate and display as part of your portfolio, which brings us to our next point.
Get some experience under your belt.
Many of us are familiar with the old saying: you need experience to get the job, but you need the job to get experience. A real catch-22. But previous, paid jobs aren’t the only type of experience that counts. Try approaching a local small business and offering to design or refresh their current website, or to build them an app to improve their customer’s mobile experience. Find an existing site that has a lot of room for improvement and then redesign it to function more smoothly for users, making sure that your updated solution looks better and performs better than before. Alternatively, you can offer to take on small UX/UI projects for your current employer, which will show initiative in your present role as well as help you get practical experience where you want it. If you have the skills - put them to use.
Spruce up your portfolio.
Creating and maintaining a stellar portfolio is a must in order to land a job in UX/UI design. Most companies will immediately take a look at your portfolio before taking a look at your resume to inform their hiring decisions. Employers want to know if your aesthetic will align with their brand, if you are versatile, and if your portfolio itself is thoughtfully designed. If a copywriter with typos on their resume is a red flag, so is a UX/UI designer with a poorly crafted digital portfolio. A good portfolio will have multiple case studies, showcase plenty of visuals that take a project from start to finish (sketches, wireframes, prototypes, etc), and effectively communicate your unique design perspective. When putting together a portfolio, it’s also important to consider your portfolio’s host site. Research the pros and cons of sites like Wix or Squarespace, where you’ll be offered less customization. There are so many options for web hosts, like UXfolio which is specific to UX designers, and lots of online examples of great portfolios to inspire you as you get started. Whichever method you choose, it should be easy for hiring managers to view and navigate (which will further demonstrate your UX skills!)
Prep for inevitable interview questions.
So you’ve taken some classes, earned some practical experience, and carefully curated your portfolio. Now what? It’s time to apply for jobs and prepare for interviews. You may be asked how you would personally define UX design, or why you’re interested in the field in the first place. Hiring managers may also ask you to detail projects you’ve worked on in the past and what you’ve learned from them, what your design process looks like, or to talk about your strengths/weaknesses in different tools (like Sketch or Figma). Every job interview will be different, but to help you feel more confident, consider connecting with other UX design professionals in virtual communities like Designer Hangout to ask informational questions that can better prepare you for questions from a hiring manager.
Sometimes the difference between getting your foot in the door or not is working and networking with people who have established relationships with companies you want to work for. A great way to make some of those preliminary connections is to work with recruiters, like the expert team at Syndicatebleu. No matter where you are in your UX/UI design career, our recruiters are ready to help tailor your job search and find just what you’re looking for. Apply to an opening to get started.