How To Become A UX Designer

How To Become A UX Designer: 3 Ways To Land Your First Gig in UX (Updated 2020)
by Tim Moad
06 Jun 2020
10 min read
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Gone are the days when selling a product required a physical shop. In the modern world, websites and apps are the new outlets. User Experience (UX) decides whether or not a customer will ever consider spending more than a few seconds on your website (let alone shopping from it). Landing your first job in UX is very similar to getting started in any industry. There are specific prerequisites that you must have. For instance, UX designers need to have a knack for solving customer problems. Being creative and innovative in terms of coming up with solutions that optimise a process is a must! 

 

There are mostly three ways to land a job in UX:

  1. The Undergraduate Way
  2. The Master’s Way
  3. The Mid Career Change Way

 

Before you take your first steps towards getting a job as a UX designer, consider checking out the scientific way of designing

Make sure do not miss out on our Bonus Tip at the end of this article. It reveals some pro tips for writing an effective resume for your UX job application!

The Undergraduate Way

It all boils down to the amount of faith that you have in your skillset. To approach a random profession right after college is to show that you are unafraid of being judged. It also means that your work can withstand criticism. Ergo, the first step in landing your first job in UX is to hone your craft and be confident about your skill set. One of the easiest ways to do that is to join open projects or do freelance work where you can get your hands dirty. Any work you do during this period will be a valuable addition to your portfolio. A determined UX designer will go to the extent of starting his or her own personal project if experiential work is not coming by! 

There are a lot of pros to having your own personal projects which help you showcase your skills. For starters, if you have worked as a UX designer for a company, the chances are that they would have made you sign a Non Disclosure agreement barring you from disclosing your work! However, it does not stop you from using your project to highlight your skills. Furthermore, the world of UX is rapidly changing. You always need to update your skillset if you plan on being ahead of the game. Having your personal project will help you try out new things and have your skills sharpened throughout your career. 

The world of User Experience is no different than the real world. Cold emailing, calling potential clients or DMing them on platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram might do the trick. However, if you want to increase your chances of actually getting the job, you should approach these people using the PSJ method. PSJ stands for Problem, Solution and Justification. 

For instance, if I am the founder of a tech startup and you happen to stumble some UX fallacies on my website, the following message will increase your chance of working on my team as a UX designer:


Hello Mr BlogWriter

My name is UXander. I came across your project and was impressed by your idea and its execution! I feel inspired to see such driven people and was hoping to be a part of your team.

Although your website is very informative and easy to use, I was able to spot some areas of improvement. For instance, (*enter some UX related problem*) can be enhanced by (*enter some UX related solution). I can also ramp up (*enter some UX related feature*) which will result in (*enter UX related result*). 

I have done my undergraduate in (*any UX related field*) and/or I have worked on (*enter any UX related project*). Thus, I am confident that I will be able to add value to your company.

I am looking forward to your reply! 

 

The above template is based on persuasion theory. It begins with a stranger showing a keen interest. The first paragraph is all about making your employer the focal point. The paragraph is not only about flattering that individual. It shows that you are a team player and are willing to work in the best interest of the company.

The second paragraph pinpoints a problem in their current website/app/software in a very subtle way. After establishing a problem, you are offering them an immediate solution. By justifying your credibility of solving the mentioned problem, you increase your chances of working with your potential employer. 

The Master’s Way

UX is here to stay. Many people consider it to be one of the sexiest jobs of the 21st century. If you are serious about going down this path then perhaps you can consider going for a masters in Human-Computer Interaction. Having a masters under your belt will undoubtedly increase your chances of landing a gig in the world of UX. However, you must see if the curriculum of a masters suits your career pursuits.

Doing your masters gives you leverage in terms of networking with the alumni. Being in touch with your seniors, and having a good rapport with them will increase your chances of landing your first job in UX design significantly. Thus, networking can play a critical role in starting your career. A good suggestion can be getting yourself a mentor who can help you improve your skillsets. Make sure your mentor is experienced in the User Experience industry. That way, your mentor can help you network effectively and increase your chances of landing a job as a UX designer while you complete your masters. In case you are struggling to find the right mentors, feel free to get in touch with the mentor community at The Proto Process.

The Mid Career Change Way

So you already have an established career, and you want to get into UX design. I am already impressed by your rebellious nature. Even if you had no job before UX and had an awakening to work in this field, then I salute your new-found drive. Contrary to popular belief, starting a new career in User Experience does not mean that you will have to start from scratch. All your past experiences where you were innovative and came with a solution which helped the people around you have set you up for a glorious career in UX. People moving into the User Experience space are usually already associated with it in some way. For instance, Psychologists being good with human motivation and research, or Marketing Professionals with experience in conversion optimisation, or Designers having a strong knowledge of colour theory have a good foundation for starting their UX career. Perhaps you worked as a waiter and noticed that a specific type of table arrangement resulted in an increased catering capacity of the restaurant. Whatever it may be, if you were able to improve the User Experience in any form, you will be able to navigate your way in UX provided you associate yourself with the right mentors.

While there are also many online courses where you can learn about User Experience, it is essential to have a community of people to help you enhance your skills. There is a difference between doing an online course all by your self and immersing yourself in a community which enables you to become better. We, at The Proto Process, are all about creating a community around you which helps you achieve your goals. What’s a better way to improve your UX skillsets than working with the industry veterans who are dedicated to you. Once you have gained enough knowledge, you can do the following ways to land your first job in UX:

  • Volunteering in UX related Events: This will not only help you network and share your desire to become a UX designer but will also help you hone your skills. Volunteering often means plunging in a chaotic situation and using ideas to streamline things. Having such an ability will pay off in making you a great UX designer.
  • Forums: Internet is a beautiful place. A lot of knowledge will come your way if you become an active member of UX related forums which help you improve your UX skillset. Twitter is one of the best known social media platforms with a very active UX community.
  • Develop People’s Skills: Now, this is a tricky one. It is often assumed that UX is all about sitting behind screen and coding. NO! UX is about people. It is about making people’s lives better and if you are to do that you need to learn what is it that humans need, want and care about. This can only be developed once you have enough people’s skills to interact with people in the first place. 

Bonus Tip: Making The First Impression

If you are applying as a UX designer, your employer will start judging your design skills from the very instant you hand over your resume. The way you craft your CV is imperative. It should arrange all the essential information in an organised and neat manner while making you stand out. You can create your unique template to portray your creativity. Perhaps a Google UX designer who attached a photo of himself as a wanted criminal for the front cover of his resume give you some inspiration!

All in all, getting into UX design means a career of constant innovation and a rewarding learning curve. For you to navigate your way through the UX world, The Proto Process provides all the right resources! Join our community to receive invaluable insight from working User Experience Professionals. Get direction on where to put your efforts next, or even work through a problem you’re having with The Proto Process. Book a FREE Consultation Now. Furthermore, you can be a part of our digital classrooms. They will enable you to stay relevant in your career and help you grow as a UX Designer. 

 

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