Today I want to share with you a personal story of one of my students – Junior UX Designer, Maureen Herben. She is proof that UX Designers can win in the job hunt process if they see it as just another design challenge. We’ve worked together during her course Certified UX Designer through Career Foundry and I am happy to share her success story with you.
Going on a job hunt can be overwhelming. But looking for a job in a whole new field can be downright scary.
Sure, you feel the excitement of a possible new adventure, but where can you find that new adventure? Do you even stand a chance as a UX newbie? What if you spend all those hours you invested in putting your portfolio together only to find out you’re doing it all wrong and no one wants to hire you? Speaking of portfolio: will that ever be done?
One of the main reasons for me to follow a UX course at Career Foundry is that I would get support finding a job in this exciting field. When I was halfway through the course and joined several conferences and a Service Jam, I knew that UX was my passion and I could no longer wait to start my UX career. The only problem was: the one UX project I have been working on for months was not ready yet. How could I apply for jobs if I don’t have a fancy website? Man, I didn’t even have a fancy Behance profile!
Here are some useful tips from my mentor that worked for me:
1. Brand yourself.
A portfolio is your chance to position yourself as a brand. Make sure your portfolio shows your personality and tells your story instead of a general UX story. In my portfolio, I made sure to point out the things I really enjoyed, the problems I’ve encountered and what I want to practice more.
2. Relevant content.
Content is relevant when it’s useful and engaging to your audience. If you want to market a product, it’s no longer about who screams the loudest that they’re the best. People want to know what you could do for them instead of what they should do for you, so make sure your content shows exactly that.
3. Approach your job hunt as a UX task.
This advice got stuck in my head as some kind of mantra. As a UX designer you’re trained to solve problems – and finding a job is just another problem you need to tackle. That means do your research (what company do you want to work for? What do they do? How do you fit in?), you propose a hypothesis (“This is how I as a UX designer can help you!)” and put it to the test: get yourself out there and reach out to companies you think do an awesome job. Which brings me to the last piece of advice…
4. Understand the company you’re applying to.
I find this advice very valuable because this is exactly what will make you stand out from the rest. Don’t just tell a company that you’d like to work with or for them, tell them why you’re so enthusiastic. Understand their vision, read about who they are, what they value, where they want to improve and how you fit in.
In my job application, I tried to write something that is personal without advertising myself too much and tell the company I was applying to, why my personality and work fits their vision well.
The cool thing about Career Foundry is that you step by step collect the blocks needed to build your portfolio. You will work on weekly exercises and create a portfolio piece on the end of each Achievement. Your mentor will help you to really polish up these pieces, giving useful feedback on how to tell your story, which elements are still missing in your portfolio and most important: motivate you with some Real Life Experience Knowledge™ so that you know that all the hours you invest in this course will actually get you something. So even though I didn’t have a cool portfolio website, I did have some work that I was proud to show to other people.
Quite frankly, it felt quite weird to apply for a job without A Real Portfolio Website but Pia always reassured me in her feedback. After sending my job application and getting invited for an interview, I reached back to Pia and together we discussed how to rock step 2: The Interview. This is were the mentors of Career Foundry really shine: they know all about the field, can tell you what questions to expect, what questions you should ask, how to pitch your story and even very practical things like discussing salary expectations.
The interview went really well and just a day later I got a call and a job offer. I look back on this experience feeling so motivated, excited and confident and to all who are still hesitating to take the plunge: stop doubting yourself and your qualities and get yourself out there!
*Relax, we’ve all been there. Your work is not shit and you’ve done well! Hang in there and stop feeding the imposter syndrome troll.
Maureen, congratulations on your success! Remember, this is just the beginning, but a very exciting beginning.
Until next time,