It’s time again: you’re about to refresh your UX designer resume. You’re understandably nervous, because after all, isn’t a resume the essence of a UX design problem to be solved?
Recruiters will have their eyes on your skills. You want to showcase your software strengths and convince reviewers that you have relevant user testing and prototyping experience, without overplaying your game. You also want to emphasize your work experience and select all keywords of the job posting to go through the HR reviewers. And after all that, you want to create an eye-catching design that doesn’t get buried in an inbox.
You want to showcase your software strengths and convince reviewers that you have relevant user testing and prototyping experience, without overplaying your game.
Do not worry so much. Recruiters spend on average six seconds looking at a resumeand many recruitment partners will tell you that obsessing over a resume is a waste of time. A reference is more likely to land you an interview than a perfectly formatted resume, and the real tests are the strength of your portfolio and the quality of your presentation during interviews.
Still, you want to make sure your resume doesn’t let you down. Here are some tips from tech industry hiring managers and a career counselor to ensure your resume is read and considered.
Tailor your resume to the job description
Crafting your section headings and bulleted job description text is key to grabbing attention, said Brian Barclay, who is director of product design at online apparel company Trunk Club. based in Chicago and has hired more than 30 employees across its decades-long career.
“First and foremost, I need to understand whether or not the experience matches the job requirements. If it’s mid to senior levels, we’re really going to look at what types [you’ve] worked in the past,” Barclay said.
He points out that applying for a position at a studio agency requires a different approach than, say, at a former car company or an established tech brand, where problem-solving skills may be valued more than hard work. imaginative conceptual.
“At Trunk Club, your real job as a designer is not to make things look pretty. It’s about solving problems the right way,” Barclay said. “If you’re really looking to get into digital and product, you need to focus on finding solutions.”
“First and foremost, I need to understand whether or not the experience matches the job requirements.”
Emphasizing your specialization is also key, said Joy Reed, senior experience designer at digital consultancy Nerdery, who reviewed the company’s resumes over the past four years: mobile design job . If you’re going for a web designer job, create it for it. While there are similarities and crossovers, tailoring your resume to the specific type of job you’re looking for shows you understand the nuances.
Don’t just reference software you know. Explain how you used it.
Many companies market themselves as software independent, but showing professional familiarity with current website builders, web design frameworks, and graphics software can be a differentiator. Reed said vector graphics editor Sketch, available for $99 a year, and prototyping tool InVision are desktop standards at Nerdery. At Trunk Club, Figma and GitHub are the platforms of choice.
But it’s not so much the technical aspects of software applications that should appear on the resume, Reed said. Instead, it is about the candidates’ understanding of best practice interface guidelines and their ability to convey how they have applied these principles in practice.
“You need to understand a basic level of accessibility,” Reed said. “You don’t need to know specific languages, but, for example, if you’re designing for the web, you need to understand responsive websites and what that means.”
Draw attention to your people skills and business acumen
Being a UX designer requires close coordination with support teams and beta testers, which is why strong communication skills and humility tend to play well.
“I mean, you’re going to communicate with product managers and engineers. You have to know how to listen, find compromises and collaborate. And if you don’t have those soft skills, it’s very hard to do,” Barclay said.
If you’ve worked on fun, customer-centric platforms, you should include them, Barclay said, especially if they can be more fully worked out in a portfolio. (Amazon, apparently, isn’t the only software company that’s customer-obsessed.) But relying too much on the brilliance of your design without hinting at the larger story of how the methods of user research and validation informed business goals may be a faux pas.
“You have to be able to listen, find compromises and collaborate.”
“Designers these days, if they want to sit at the table, they have a certain business acumen. We want to see their impact on both the client and the business,” Barclay said.
So how do you shed some light on that in a point or two?
“Let’s say you were part of your company’s integration team,” Barclay said. “We want to see what metric you started with, whether it’s conversion and funnel, or whatever, and what happened. Did you take any chances? Have you seen it go up? You haven’t seen it rise? And that’s okay if you haven’t. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging failure.
If you’re passionate about technology, don’t be afraid to say so. One way to do this is to tap into professional development experiences — bootcamps, internships, freelance and nonprofit projects, professional affiliations, or even influential books — that have shaped your career trajectory.
“I think it really helps to tell the person looking for the job that you’re constantly learning and growing and going with things, and it also allows you to pick up a wider range of knowledge,” Reed said. .
Don’t underestimate the importance of page design
For Jo-Nell Sieren, an internship and career counselor who helps students in the Department of Interactive and Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago prepare their resumes for entry-level UX design positions, well-thought-out page design is fundamental to make a strong impression.
“For someone doing user experience, they have to think of the person reading the resume as the personality of their audience, right? This demonstrates their ability to simplify and organize information, which is essential for a user experience designer,” Sieren said.
Using hierarchy, she adds, should direct readers to the most important information first, usually in the top third of the page. Section titles should be set in a bold font, preferably a modern font, so that reviewers scanning the document can spot company affiliations, titles, and keywords. Infographics, charts, and icons are considered bad form, as are banners in showy colors (although a tastefully applied splash of color can add personality to the document).
Importantly, the format should match the requirements of the job posting – typically a one to two page pdf.
Don’t Get Shut Out by Applicant Tracking Systems
Before you even decide to go with Helvetica or Times New Roman, you need to beat the bots. Nick Keppler, writing for Vice, reports this “maneuvering around algorithmic gatekeepers to reach a real person with a say in hiring has become a crucial skill, even if the tasks involved seem deceitful and absurd.
Since many ATS software platforms allow employers to search for keywords in a resume and use that data to develop a candidate’s career suitability score, Sieren advises his students to literally copy the words of the job description. There are even paid services, like Jobscan websitewhich inserts words from a job posting into a client’s resume for $50 a month.
Resorting to this type of counter-intelligence strategy is unwise when applying for the Trunk Club, Barclay said, where “there is a human being behind [resume review], and we think that’s important. But earlier in his career, as a senior product design executive at United Airlines, applications were vetted by third-party recruiters, who he said likely relied on applicant tracking systems as screening tools. .
The lesson, it seems, is to stick to the playbook. And don’t be too clever with your synonyms.
Reed warns that, while tempting, watering down your work experience and software knowledge is a strategy that could backfire. “Because unfortunately I see examples of people complicating what they have done. And I think that automatically comes through when you start talking to them, in depth, during the interview,” Reed said.
A better route, she says, is to contextualize your knowledge within the scope and responsibilities of a particular role and project.
“If you’re going to mention that you did user testing, explain exactly what you did,” Reed said. “Do you only talk to a few people you’ve brought into a room?” Are you recruiting people who have no experience with the product and who are actually end users? Did you interview them before designing the product to get their feedback or was it just to understand their interests and pain points? [These explanations] create a very different understanding right away.
“I see examples of people padding what they’ve done. And I think that automatically comes through when you start talking to them.”
Proofreading, independent and by trusted colleagues, is essential. Typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors are an almost surefire way to get a resume removed from review.
“When you’re throwing something together, you can kind of see the desperation that’s in there,” Barclay said. “We want to look for thoughtful things because this is your first introduction, right? It’s your handshake.
In the end, you’re selling your story, and even if it’s the ruthlessly abridged version, you have to believe it.
“I love when people give me a little bit of information about why they do what they do: who they are, why they love the design,” Barclay said. “I don’t stray from the more traditional format, ‘this is the work I did, here are some bullet points.’ That’s great, and I appreciate that, but I like to hear a bit more of the story of what you’ve done.