As CEO of UXTesting, I receive on a regular basis UX resumes which are either directed to UXTesting or consist of resumes I review for our clients. There are some noteworthy insights gained from all these 500+ UX resumes I have reviewed. This article, provide a useful guideline on how to make your UX resume truly stand out, and addresses six key points that candidates usually miss.
1. User Experience Thinking Process
There is no standard to generate the “right” UX plan or the “right” way to execute UX strategy — but only the “most suitable”. I often see candidates putting all of their methodologies in their portfolios and resume, which is usually obtained during online courses or training programs. This can be indeed informative, however, there is no “thinking process” visible. As practical UXers, we should aim to be problem solvers. Instead, many candidates tend to focus too much on problems that they have found. Imagine this scenario, if a management-level executive has hired you, do they expect you to help solve the problems or just find the problems?
This is why, I recommend candidates to follow the 2H3W model which can be used as a good referencing and starting point. The 2H3W model is as follows:
How do we define the UX issue and generate the right plan for your organization? Through data analysis? Or through a leadership examination?
Why do you think this is the key UX issue now, and do you want to do deeper research for your organization? Why can you get support from decision-makers? Does it remain in line with the business objectives of the organization?
With a suitable UX plan, how long will it take to execute the UX research? Is it appropriate that you want to do research for a year to analyze just a few small issues?
Who, to be specific, are the internal and external stakeholders you would like to interview or do more research with?
After your research, what is your solution to this plan? The solution is not just revising the user interface: do you have a cross-functional solution to provide value to your organization?
Although the 2H3W model yields great results, it is not advisable to blindly follow this model. The best UX plan and resume requires you to be unique and bespoken.
2. Internal Stakeholders
As UX industry leader as well as CEO of UXTesting, I joined numerous local UX meetups and established many connections with both aspiring and current UXers. The majority of these UX meetups’ topics are focused on “how to understand the users”, “user journey” or either “user map”. These topics are all tackling the “external stakeholders” as mentioned earlier.
Whilst drafting a general and comprehensive UX plan, you will likely include “internal stakeholders”, such as the decision-makers, business level, and other functional departments. There is no UX plan without having the time and cost to support it. If you never mention the business goal with your UX plan, you are not a UX practitioner.
3. Logic is the key
Most people have the following misunderstanding: “a UX resume should look very good”. This is only partially correct. Having a good design for your resume is only one basic aspect that makes up a good resume. A UXers responsibility is not to make things look good, but also make things operate seemingly. People who possess UX skills and capabilities will be preferred over those who are merely designers since function, accuracy, and usability take precedence over design.
Hence, good design but with no logical description can still result in a bad resume. Design is just merely a tool to solve the UX issue. This is also why I prefer to describe UX as a strategy, not just a good-looking design.
So If you have a design/UI background, use your “design” skills effectively. Try to use these skills to solve problems and to make the organization more efficient and effective.
Often times, I see that resumes are using “New UI Design” to show problem-solving. However, they lack any “practical” solutions. Do you talk to the dev team to ascertain their workload? Do you communicate with decision-makers in the corporation and show them why you think they have to “redesign”? Where is your UX data to prove your points and get support from key people?
Can you show a good redesign without first finding out if other teams are even able to create the functions you designed? Will the organizational head help you whilst communicating with other teams? If not, what is your solution even worth it? Solution refers to the way we can solve the problem — not just showing what you can do.
For example, if we found a UX issue with bad user experiences during the signup process, and we want to improve our signup rate for online users, we may talk to the dev team to see how the new design works and how long they can finish the development in. Meanwhile, discussing with the marketing team to brainstorm new marketing campaigns to increase user signup retention. After internal discussion, we can do rapid prototyping and set up a focus group to get feedback regarding how they feel about the change. This is the solid UX process that we have to do before showing the design to the corporation’s decision-makers.
A comprehensive UX portfolio is not over when the solution is. It is essential to show the differences that were made to the company before the UX research and after the UX research. This difference can be for example shown in the form of feedback from the users or either objective data such as conversion rate, signup rate or any other figures). Generally speaking, always include the concrete results that the company was able to obtain as a result of your UX changes.
Reference represents one of the most important elements of your resume. Establishing and maintaining meaningful connections are useful sources to ask for a reference. But, who is the best person that can introduce you? The answer to this, I would say is someone who really knows you. Recruiters always want to know more about you, not just your skills or personality but also whether you fit within our company culture. Referral from someone you have only met once are not the most suitable reference. Instead, ask someone who knows your strengths, and background can be the right person to receive a referral from. Such connections have a strong foundation that comes with greater trust and belief.
It is certainly worth mentioning that it can be challenging to receive references from industry leaders. Thus, before you ask a reference, think about why you need their referral, and why that person is the best referral for you to create a win-win mindset.
Last but not least, at UXTesting we are excited to release a new plan as UX coachers. We will recruit and interview applicants worldwide for this new training program. Only a selection of 15 “Seed Experience Stars” will be invited. Stay tuned on the UXTesting’s blog as more details will be released soon.