by Iglika Mateeva-Drincheva
March 14, 2019
So, you want to start your new career as a UX/UI designer? Today I'm sharing eight tips with you on how to land your first job as a UX/UI designer.
Before you start searching for a job you have to make sure that you're actually ready for that. What I mean is that you need to know how to conduct basic user research, how to do wireframing and how to use at least one UI tool very well.
It could be either Sketch, InVision Studio, it could be Figma or even Adobe XD. It depends on what you want to learn. I personally recommend Sketch or InVision Studio but that's up to you. It's a common practice during the interview process that you get a test task. Therefore, you have to make sure that you know exactly the ins and outs of at least one UI tool, so you are able to perform the task and you get the job.
I know you're just starting out and probably you don't have any clients yet. But you need a portfolio. A portfolio for a designer is even more important than a CV. Recruiters are much interested in your portfolio than they are in your resume or CV. So make sure you have a great portfolio.
I understand that you may have only zero clients so far because you're just getting started but there are ways that you can actually fill your portfolio with some example work. For instance, you can work for free. You can do an unpaid job for someone that is searching for a designer to help redesign their homepage or do a smaller design task. Don't start with super-complicated projects because chances are that you won't be able to handle that.
Also, another thing that you can do is to work for a non-profit organization just to get some experience and learn how to do things and learn how to work with other people and a team. Maybe you have a friend who recently started a startup and needs you to help him or her redesign their new homepage or design the new app. Whatever it is, take at least three projects and put them inside the portfolio. Make sure they are in the form of a case study-don't just share pretty pictures, share your process, your thoughts, and the solutions you have created for those clients.
I'm a pretty huge fan of the one-page resume. A one-page resume consists of one page (duh!) where you have to be able to list your experience, your expertise, the tools that you're using.
If you're coming from another field and you're trying to switch to design, don't try to state your previous experience in your resume because, at the end of the day, you're applying for a design position. So even if you have 10 years of experience in account management, unless it's relevant somehow to the job, then just don't put it in there. I'm sure that this may come up in the interview process so you'll be able to get a chance to actually explain what you did before.
Make sure to list any relevant experiences you have, the URL of your portfolio, how you can be reached, the skills that you have, the tools that you know, that's the most important thing.
Also, a lot of people nowadays don't have any official design degrees. I'm the same. I studied Management. I didn't study Design officially at the University. But then, I enrolled in several courses like DesignLab or some courses of the Interaction Design Foundation.
A lot of platforms nowadays offer some sort of a certificate, so you can actually prove that you've taken a certain amount of courses. Use this to put it in your resume so you can actually have a proof of some sort of education. No one wants to hire a designer that just watched a bunch of YouTube videos and then called themselves a designer. Okay? That's not cool. Unless you're pretty good at UI design and then all you do is UI design. But that's another thing.
If you're applying for a job as a UX/ UI designer, it is expected from you that you actually know a little bit more about the design process, the wireframes, the user research techniques. It is better for you to actually get some education online ( or offline).
I do think that every designer should have at least one social media profile. Nowadays having just a CV or resume is boring. You should have a profile on one of the professional networks- either LinkedIn or Xing if you live in Germany or the DACH region. You need to make sure that your current online profile is clear that you're searching for a job in the design field.
Again, if you're just switching from another field, there is no way that the recruiters or anyone else will know that you're actually into design. You have to put it out there. List your certificates, list your skills, change your bio, and please upload some work samples, your resume, link it up and make sure that you add the relevant keywords. You can even have your bio say something like "Aspiring designer searching for a job in UX/UI design." It has to be really clear.
At the end of the day, skills are very important. But you won't be able to get a chance even to prove your skills unless someone finds you and you can't be found unless you market yourself properly. I'm sorry but that's how it works.
You need to have a website. After all, you do help create digital products which means that an online portfolio and an online website is a must. There are plenty of tools out there. You don't need to be able to code. I use, for example, WordPress. You can also use Squarespace or Wix. There are thousands of templates. It's not so hard. Just get it done before you actually start applying for jobs. In addition, you can gather some bonus points if you own a blog.
You may want to start small. I understand that you've spent countless hours learning the skills. Now, you finally want to get that design job you deserve! You want to prove to everyone that you're a real designer because you work as a designer. And that's great. But sometimes, you need to start small.
What I mean by that is you might actually think about getting an internship first because it might be hard for you with no experience to be hired immediately as a junior designer. Yes, it happens sometimes but sometimes it won't. And when it doesn't -don't get disappointed. Just apply for an internship, stay there and maybe the company will offer you a job. That's what happened to one of my friends. She switched from being a salesperson to being a developer. And she was not able to find a job because she had no previous experience. So what she did is actually got an internship and a startup and after six months, they did offer her a full-time position as a junior developer.
Last but not least, you have to meet other designers in the field. You have to build up a network. There is plenty of events out there, join your local design community. I'd recommend using Meetup or Eventbrite to find relevant events. They're mostly free and they're amazing. You can meet people like you- people that are just starting out into the design industry. You can meet more experienced designers. and who knows, maybe you will find a mentor or someone will recommend you for a job. So make sure to expand your network and join some meetups.
Those were my tips for finding your first job as a UX/UI designer. Remember, people are searching for the best fit for their company. So, your skills may be perfect but you may not be the perfect fit in terms of culture or teamwork. Make sure you do your research, find out what are the values of the company that you're applying at. And make sure that you're the person that they want to hire for the job. Good luck! I hope you find your first job as a UX/UI designer.