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Winning at the UX Job Search Spring 2020

Winning at the UX Job Search Spring 2020

This is one of my favorite talks that I give to Laura Ruel's UX class at the University of North Carolina. I've updated this deck to reflect the COVID-19 situation. The talk covers the typical UX hiring process from the company's perspective, what interview candidates need to know, and how best prepare - and win at getting a UX job!

Michelle Chin

April 23, 2020
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  1. Winning at the UX Job Search
    (From the hiring manager’s perspective)
    April 23, 2020
    Michelle Chin
    Manager, Product Designer, Citrix
    @soysaucechin
    COVID-19 Edition

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  2. About Me
    Intro
    • Michelle Chin - @soysaucechin
    • DC > Raleigh > Bay Area
    • Manager, Product Designer at Citrix
    • Manage 6 designers; team of 20.
    • UX work I do is centered around
    product strategy and empowering
    others to solve challenging problems
    • I ❤ UX! Founder of exploreUX

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  3. About me + the UX job search
    Intro
    • I struggled to find my first UX job
    • As a senior teammate, I’ve helped
    hire UXers
    • As a manager, I’ve hired UXers - and
    I’ve learned so much about the
    corporate hiring process!
    I know finding a
    UX job is tough!

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  4. Background
    Intro
    • Who’s involved in the process
    • What the typical process is like

    How COVID-19 affects this
    process
    What we’ll be
    talking about
    today

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  5. Who’s involved
    Background
    • New to the professional work world,
    transitioning to a UX career, looking for
    a job in a UX-related field
    • Don’t be just another applicant
    • Yes! Be memorable! Two types:
    • All-stars
    • Creepy
    • (Networking helps )
    You

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  6. Who’s involved
    • Usually under the Human Resources
    department
    • Help hiring managers find talent and work
    through the logistics (set up interviews, talk
    salary, explain core company benefits)
    • Not familiar with UX
    • “First responders” - first to screen resumes
    and conduct interviews
    • Are recruiting for several job positions at
    once
    Recruiter
    Background

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  7. Who’s involved
    Background
    • Manager on the design team and future
    boss
    • Very familiar with UX
    • Looking for candidates who can do the
    work and who make a great culture fit
    • Finds potential candidates via their
    networks
    • Very busy: projects, managing people
    • Could be recruiting for several job
    positions at once
    Hiring
    Manager

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  8. Who’s involved
    • Designers on the team; could be your
    future teammates
    • Work on projects
    • Finds potential candidates via their
    networks
    • Participate in the hiring process
    Background
    Design Team

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  9. The Process: 4 Typical Phases (from the Company’s perspective)
    Background
    ~150 applicants ~30 screened ~8 interviewed ~4 validated 4 hired
    1. Searching
    Goal:
    To cast a wide net to
    find our potential
    interview candidates
    Example stats: Based on 4 positions we were hiring, there were:
    2. Screening
    Goal:
    To screen for
    candidates who meet
    the requirements and
    have the relevant
    experience/talent
    3. Interviewing
    Goal:
    To get a sense of a
    candidate’s
    experience and
    abilities to
    communicate and
    present work
    4. Validating
    Goal:
    To get a sense of a
    candidate’s ability to
    ideate and think
    through solutions
    (Offer
    made)

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  10. 4 Typical Phases
    Background
    For each phase, we’ll
    go over:
    • What the company wants to know
    • How you should be prepared
    • How to win! - Dos, don’ts
    • Use this as a checklist ✅

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  11. Phase 1. Searching

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  12. Searching
    Phase 1. Searching
    • Career sites (Indeed, Glassdoor)
    • LinkedIn
    • Through colleague networks
    • Local organizations (e.g.,Triangle
    UXPA)
    • Local events, meetups, conferences

    How are companies
    searching for
    candidates?

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  13. What companies are looking for
    Phase 1: Searching
    Current resume Portfolio with
    3-5 relevant
    pieces
    LinkedIn profile
    (And what you should have)

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  14. How to win at applying
    General Rule: Make it
    easy for them to learn
    about you
    On your resume, include links to your
    portfolio and LinkedIn profile
    Name your resume with your name!
    Phase 1. Searching

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  15. How to win at applying
    Don’t click the “Apply
    with LinkedIn”
    button!!
    • But it’s so easy and convenient!!
    Phase 1. Searching

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  16. Don’t click “Apply with LinkedIn”
    1. A delay in the process
    What happens
    LinkedIn sends a text version of your profile as your resume!
    What this means
    Hi, Can you send me
    your resume and a
    link to your portfolio?
    2. You’re ignored () in favor of
    someone with a real resume
    Phase 1. Searching / How to win at applying

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  17. • Go to the company’s site, find the job
    there and apply
    • Ensure you’re uploading a PDF resume
    (find that option)
    • Reach out to someone and ask about the
    job
    • However, don’t harass the person /
    entire team!
    So really, how do I apply?
    How to win at applying
    Phase 1. Searching

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  18. • Recruiters throw out resumes that don’t
    align with the job description
    • Applying takes a lot of time and energy -
    think quality over quantity

    Seek out opportunities for recent grads

    Ask people at meetups, “Hey, does
    your company have programs for recent
    college grads?”

    Companies are hiring right now, but think
    about what kind of services they offer or
    products they make - Will they endure this
    crisis?
    Apply only for the jobs
    you’re qualified for
    How to win at applying
    Phase 1. Searching

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  19. Phase 2. Screening

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  20. Screening
    Phase 2. Screening
    • The recruiter “first responder” screens
    the resume, if it passes…
    • The hiring manager screens the resume
    and portfolio.
    How are
    companies
    screening
    candidates?

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  21. What companies are looking for
    Phase 2. Screening
    What are
    recruiters
    looking for
    when screening
    a resume?
    Looking for the basics:
    ✅ Do you have a link to your portfolio?
    ✅ Do you meet the minimum requirements
    needed?
    e.g., 1-3 years of UX experience
    ✅ Do you have the relevant keywords?
    If you do, then they’ll pass you to the hiring
    manager for a resume and portfolio screen.
    (And what you should be prepared to have)

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  22. What companies are looking for
    Phase 2. Screening
    What are hiring
    managers
    looking for
    when screening
    a resume?
    Looking closer at the actual UX work:
    Does your resume show the skills and relevant
    experience needed to do the job? They’re
    scanning for:
    ✅ Positions held
    ✅ Companies worked for
    ✅ UX skills, applications
    ✅ Relevant keywords (e.g., Agile, mobile,
    enterprise, etc.)
    If you do, then they’ll decide to check out
    your portfolio.
    (And what you should be prepared to have)

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  23. Resume Dos
    Do design your resume so it’s scannable
    Do have someone proofread for typos!
    Do include keywords - but of things you
    actually know
    This is a good time to work on your resume!
    How to win with your resume
    Phase 2. Screening

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  24. Resume Don’ts
    Don’t submit Word docs - Formatting can
    break and look poor, someone can edit it -
    submit a PDF
    Don’t rate your skills! You risk selling
    yourself short!
    How to win with your resume
    Expert knowledge
    of Sketch, Illustrator;
    Working knowledge
    of HTML, CSS
    Good example
    Sketch
    Illustrator
    HTML
    CSS
    Bad example
    Phase 2. Screening

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  25. Screening
    Phase 2. Screening
    What are hiring
    managers looking
    for when
    reviewing a
    portfolio?
    Does your portfolio:
    ✅ Look professional?
    ✅ Show a user-centered design process?
    ✅ Can you think critically?
    ✅ Show relevant experience?
    ✅ Tell us a bit about you?
    If it does, then they’ll decide to have the
    recruiter do a phone screen.
    (And what you should be prepared to have)

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  26. Portfolio Dos
    Do keep the UI simple - have your pieces
    stand out
    Do limit it to 3-5 of your BEST, relevant pieces
    Do show your process - UX is messy
    Do mention flaws, surprise insights, lessons
    learned and how you pivoted or recovered
    Also a good time to work on your portfolio!
    How to win with your portfolio
    Phase 2. Screening

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  27. Portfolio Don’ts
    Don’t include irrelevant work - e.g., throw
    out those print pieces
    Don’t copy your colleagues - (i.e.,
    plagiarize) it’s ok to use the same pieces,
    but change up the content
    Don’t make it seem like you worked for big
    companies (e.g., Apple, Airbnb, Tesla)
    How to win with your portfolio
    Phase 2. Screening

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  28. What if I don’t have
    real-world
    experience?
    Do:
    Do create projects that go through your
    process
    Do look at volunteer opportunities
    Don’t:
    Don’t redesign Craigslist
    Don’t take on a redesign of any well-known
    site or app, one with strong design team
    How to win with your portfolio
    Phase 2. Screening

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  29. 3. Interviewing

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  30. Interviewing
    Phase 3. Interviewing
    1. The recruiter “first responder”
    conducts a phone screen, if you
    pass…
    2. The hiring manager conducts an
    phone screen, if you pass…
    3. The hiring manager and team
    conducts portfolio presentation
    interview.
    How are companies
    interviewing
    candidates?

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  31. Interviewing
    What are
    recruiters
    looking for in a
    phone screen?
    First pass at seeing if you’re legit:
    ✅ Do you know what UX is?
    ✅ Why do you want to work at the company?
    ✅ Can you talk about your UX process?
    What they’re looking for:
    ✅ Can you articulate yourself well?
    ✅ Do you really want to work at the company?
    ✅ Are you worth moving forward?
    (And what you should be prepared to answer)
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  32. Interviewing
    Logistics:
    ✅ Do you need a visa?
    ✅ Do you need to relocate?
    ✅ What is your salary range?
    If the phone screen goes well, then they’ll
    recommend you for an phone screen interview
    with the hiring manager.
    Phase 3. Interviewing
    What are
    recruiters
    looking for in a
    phone screen?
    (And what you should be prepared to answer)

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  33. Interviewing
    What are hiring
    managers
    looking for in a
    phone screen?
    (And what you should be prepared to
    answer)
    Second pass at your qualifications:
    ✅ What’s your UX process like (using a
    previous project as an example)?
    ✅ What’s a UX challenge you faced and how
    did you resolve it?
    ✅ What aspect of UX are you strongest / most
    passionate about?
    ✅ What are you looking with your next career
    steps?
    ✅ What experience do you have working with
    stakeholders, developers, product
    managers, etc.?
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  34. Interviewing
    What they’re looking for:
    ✅ Can you explain your UX process?
    ✅ Can you articulate your work?
    ✅ Do your strengths, passions, and career
    next steps align with the team?
    ✅ Can you work with others well?
    ✅ Are you worth moving forward?
    If the phone screen goes well, then they’ll
    recommend to do a portfolio presentation/
    interview.
    Phase 3. Interviewing
    What are hiring
    managers
    looking for in a
    phone screen?

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  35. Phone Interview
    Dos
    Do ask about their hiring process
    Do have answers for those logistical
    questions
    Do have questions for the interviewers!
    Do practice your interviews - you want to
    know your work in and out:
    • Know the most challenging part of the
    project and how you approached a
    solution
    • Know what you would do differently
    How to win at phone screens
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  36. Phone Interview
    Don’ts
    Don’t throw anyone under the bus - EVER!!
    (Practice putting a positive spin on things)
    Don’t take calls in a noisy environment or
    where there’s patchy reception
    How to win at phone screens
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  37. Interviewing
    What happens in a
    portfolio presentation?
    • Typically a presentation done virtually or in
    person. ( more than likely it’ll be virtual)
    • Includes additional managers or senior
    teammates
    • Opportunity for:
    • You to show your work and walk through it
    • For interviewers to dive deeper into your
    work and ask questions
    • You to ask questions about the team /
    company
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  38. Interviewing
    What are they looking
    for in a portfolio
    presentation?
    What they’re looking for:
    ✅ Can you articulate your work and answer in-
    depth questions about it?
    ✅ A better understanding of your work,
    skillsets, interests
    ✅ Would you be a good cultural fit?
    ✅ Are you worth moving forward?
    If the interview goes well, then might
    decide to have you go onto the next phase.
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  39. Presentation Dos
    Do have 3-4 pieces ready to present -
    usually you present 2-3, but it’s good to
    have an extra just in case
    Do have design deliverables ready
    Do show your process - the complicated
    and messy
    Do be prepared to talk about what you
    love inside/outside of work
    Do look at LinkedIn profiles of
    interviewers
    Do back up your stuff to the Cloud
    How to win at portfolio presentations
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  40. Presentation Dos
    Do download and practice the technology
    ahead of time (software, headphones, etc.)
    Do start to build a rapport with people -
    this might actually calm your nerves
    Do share your camera AND look at your
    camera when presenting!
    Be understanding if some people have to
    jump off, can’t make it, or are late.
    Do warn people of any potential
    interruptions
    How to win at portfolio presentations
    Phase 3. Interviewing

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  41. Phase 3. Interviewing
    Presentation
    Don’ts
    Don’t give a real estate tour of your work
    , instead –
    Tell a story, keep things high level, but
    know the details if they ask.
    Don’t just show final pieces - show the
    process!
    Don’t only open design files as your main
    presentation - have a presentation
    prepared (PowerPoint, Keynote)
    Avoid showing videos with audio
    How to win at portfolio presentations

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  42. Do ask Questions!
    These show me you’re picturing yourself on the
    team:
    • What do you love about being on the team?
    • What opportunities are there for career growth
    and development?
    • How does the team typically work on projects?
    • Do you feel like the larger company is
    transparent about its goals?
    • What are some challenges that designers face
    working on projects?

    How has the company support its
    employees during this time? This can be very
    telling if you want to join this company.
    How to win at portfolio presentations
    Phase 3. Interviewing
    (Favorites I’ve been asked)

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  43. 4. Validating

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  44. Validating
    Phase 4. Validating
    • So much of UX is behind the scenes and it’s
    tough to convey design iterations, pivots,
    and decisions
    • Teams validate your abilities by conducting
    some sort of design exercise:
    • Design/whiteboard challenge
    • Heuristic evaluation
    How are
    companies
    validating
    candidates?

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  45. Validating
    What are
    hiring
    managers
    looking for?
    What they’re looking for:
    ✅ Do you actually use a user-centered design
    process?
    ✅ How well is your ability to think through a
    problem?
    ✅ How well can you critically think and
    generate solutions?
    If you do well, then they’ll be ready to make
    an offer.
    (And what you should be prepared demonstrate)
    Phase 4. Validating

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  46. Heuristic
    Evaluation Dos
    and Don’ts
    Do:
    Do use an existing heuristic method/
    model (e.g., 10 Usability Heuristics for UI Design
    by Jakob Nielsen)
    Do practice, so you feel comfortable doing
    these
    Don’t:
    Don’t try to boil the ocean, instead narrow
    your scope and focus on an area
    Don’t get too specific with everything,
    instead dive in on one or two things
    How to win at heuristic evaluations
    Phase 4. Validating

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  47. Phase 4. Validating
    Design Challenge
    Dos and Don’ts
    Do:
    Do google “design interview challenge” for
    strategies
    Do practice and be familiar with
    • Hypothetical/abstract ones
    • Real-life ones
    Don’t:
    Don’t strive for perfection - keep moving!
    It’s about showing your process
    How to win at design challenges

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  48. Phase 4. Validating
    Value your time!
    • Your time is valuable and design teams
    shouldn’t take advantage of it
    • If a company has you (re)design a feature in
    their product or give you hours of homework,
    you can politely decline it
    • Say you understand the intent
    • Ask for an alternative, limit in scope, or
    payment
    How to win at design challenges

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  49. This isn’t working

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  50. This isn’t working
    • Why haven’t I heard from X company?
    • Companies rarely inform “no” to candidates
    • The hiring process can take time
    • It’s might not be you, it might be them
    • Timing
    • Budget limitations

    Company uncertainty
    • You might not have met the minimum
    requirements
    • There might have been stronger candidates
    out there
    Why am I having
    trouble getting a
    UX job?

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  51. Dos and Don’ts
    How to win even when you feel like
    you’re losing
    This isn’t working
    Don’t be too hard on yourself!
    Do ask the recruiter or hiring manager why
    you weren’t selected
    Do consider being a contractor or working
    at a smaller company
    Do seek mentorship
    Do continue to build your network (Attend
    meetups, join Triangle UXPA, etc. )

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  52. Building your
    network
    increases your
    chances of finding
    a job!
    How to win even when you feel like
    you’re losing
    This isn’t working
    My quick survey about the job hunt:
    41%
    59%
    Over half (59%) find
    jobs through someone
    they know
    26%
    26%
    48%
    Former Coworkers (48%)
    Friend Network (26%)
    Professional Network (26%)
    Survey conducted by Michelle Chin in November 2018, where 23 respondents were asked how
    they found their two previous UX/UX-related jobs.
    Of the 59%, half found their job from a former coworker,
    half found a job in their network

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  53. Thinking differently since COVID-19

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  54. This isn’t working
    Everything takes more effort
    • Get creative in filling in the gaps
    • Instead of, “I can’t [xyz],” think “How else
    can I achieve what I was trying to with
    [xyz]?”
    • Make connections online –there’s a local Slack
    group
    (free to join TriangleDesigners.com)
    • Local meetups are happening - just virtually
    • Don’t be too hard on yourself!
    Additional
    Considerations
    "You are not working from home; you are at your
    home during a crisis trying to work."
    I've heard this twice today. I think it's an important
    distinction worth emphasizing.
    —Neil Webb

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  55. This isn’t working
    • You’ll be remote for the foreseeable future
    • Share your camera when you can; others might
    not want to share
    • Tidy your background - people are “coming
    over” to your home.
    • Have 15-minute 1-1s with teammates to get to
    know them better
    • Ask your manager for guidance, understand
    what your employer policies are in place
    Starting a New
    Job Right Now

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  56. Slide deck:
    bit.ly/winning-at-ux-jobs-4
    Twitter: @soysaucechin
    LinkedIn: michelletchin
    Slack: TriangleDesigners.com
    (michelle.chin)
    SkillShare: https://skl.sh/
    2FOSfcp
    Medium: @soysaucechin
    Questions?

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