UX as a discipline is a natural progression in the world of brands and organizations. Twenty years ago, everyone started to realise they needed a website. Ten years ago, everyone wanted a mobile app. More recently, we’ve realised that all of these digital products have to actually be usable. And not only do they have to be usable, but they need to meet a need for someone.
So with this UX awakening comes a variety of opportunities for UX designers. Brands, agencies, governments, nonprofits, are all looking to create value from great experiences. You can work full-time, in-house, contract, remotely, flexibility, intern or freelance. You can be a specialist or a generalist, or the elusive T-shaped designer. So how do you decide what to do with your career?
You UX it! Design your ideal role, then assess every opportunity based on how close it comes.
I long overlooked applying my skills in design to my own life, but once I created a UX strategy for my consulting business (medium link), the light bulb went off. How else can I improve my life using the same techniques I use to improve the lives of my clients’ customers?
Ok, here we go. We're designers! We can do this!
It's not really a UX persona since it is just about a specific person (you), but the same rules apply. Create a profile of yourself as a job seeker. Use the same categories- bio, needs and wants, pain points, etc. Imagine your product is the work experience and outline important elements of your personality, behaviors, and motivations.
Here's my persona-
Next, think about attributes of work and plot your ideal experience. Consider where you have thrived in the past. Here are a few attributes I came up with, but would love to know if you think of others.
Now that you have a framework of what organisation and work experience will help you thrive, go find it! Look for organisations that fit and do some research to see what it might be like to work there. Send them a cover letter, CV, and portfolio even if they don’t have an open position. Or use this tip from a Fast Company article titled 3 Secrets Of People Who Always Get Job Offers - reach out to someone in a similar role that you want or on the same team, and ask if they’d be willing to chat about their job. If it goes well, ask for an introduction to the hiring manager.
Another way to get research the company is to find what events they host or sponsor, or employees that work there attend. If you can meet someone in person at a networking event and inquire about the company and an open role, you’ll likely get a warm introduction to the right person.
When you do find that opportunity and start interviewing and meeting others at the company, return to your persona and ideal experience diagram you mapped out at the beginning. Throughout the process, be strict with yourself on finding the role you designed.
If you find yourself saying “it's not what I want to do but it will be a good experience anyway” or “but I need the money” there's a good chance you'll hate it. And a good chance that you'll miss something you would love because of it.
There is another opportunity out there that is what you want or helps you on the right path that you will actually enjoy doing.