How to Make Your UX Resume Truly Stand Out

This is my first article in 2020. I’d like to extend my gratitude to everyone including our business partners, clients and the community for supporting us in 2019. I hope all of us can continue hitting bigger and better milestones this year!

Today, I would like to share the insights I’ve gleaned from multiple UX resumes that have come across my desk. Last year, I reviewed over 500 UX resumes for my own team and for our clients, and I figured out some key points that most candidates usually miss. There are six ideas that I would like to share with you:

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”. Many candidates attended online courses or training courses, then put all of their methodologies on their portfolios and resume. It is informative, but we didn’t see any “thinking process” within that. As practical UXers, we are problem solvers, but candidates tend to focus too much on problems that they have found. Think for a moment: if the management level hired you, do they expect you to help solve the problems or just find the problems?

I always recommend that candidates follow the 2H3W model — as I mentioned, this is not the only “right” model, but is just for your reference, as it has yielded good results in my experience.

● How?

How do we define the UX issue and generate the right plan for your organization? Through data analysis? Or through leadership examination?

● Why?

Why 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?

● How long?

With the suitable UX plan, how long you will 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?

Who, to be specific, are the internal and external stakeholders you would like to interview or do more research with?

● What?

After your research, what is your solution for this plan? The solution is not just revising the user interface: do you have a cross-functional solution to provide value to your organization?

I’ll try to list some thinking points for you, since I would not recommend you just blindly follow what I state. The best UX plan and resume should be unique and bespoke.

2. Internal Stakeholders

As a UX industry leader, I joined many local UX meetups and hung out with both aspiring and current UXers. You can easily Google that over 80% of UX meetups’ topics are focused on “how to understand the users”, “user journey” or “user map” and so on, which are the “external stakeholders” we mentioned earlier.

Whilst drafting a general and comprehensive UX plan, you must usually 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.

Furthermore, what is the feedback received from users of different functions? If we want to make users read all of the terms of use and click “accept” to use our services, what is the balance between the design and legal team? Obviously, we cannot show all the terms on the phone because of limited screen space, and it would result in a bad mobile experience. Is it better that we show the key terms the users should understand, but also have an option available that they can click on to reveal the full terms? I’m not sure, but it may be a good compromise between opposing stakeholders that may ultimately result in a perfect solution.

3. Logic is the key

Most people have the following misunderstanding: “a UX resume should look very good”. It is partially correct, but good design of your resume is only one basic aspect of a good resume. As UXers, we can’t just make things look good: we have to make things operate good. We prefer people who have UX skills and capabilities over those who are merely designers, since function, accuracy and usability take precedence over design.

Good design/UI with no logic description is still a bad resume for me. Design is just one of the methods to solve the UX issue: sometimes we do reorganization, internal training, education, and even business activities in order to solve the problems. That is why I prefer to describe UX as strategy, not just good-looking design.

If you were of a design/UI background, definitely, good design is even basic for you. But we would like to see how you use “design” to solve the problems and make the organization efficient and effective.

4. Solution

Usually, I see that resumes are using “New UI Design” to show how they solve a problem, but I didn’t see any “practical” solutions you provided. 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? 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. Additionally, discussing with the marketing team to brainstorm new marketing campaigns to increase user signup retention is a good strategy. After internal discussion, we can do rapid prototyping to show some heavy users or focus groups 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.

5. Results

A comprehensive UX portfolio is not over when the solution is. You have to show what differences were made to the company before UX research and after. You may feel confused about how the difference can be shown: it could be feedback from the users, or objective data (like conversion rate, signup rate or any other figures). Generally speaking, you must always include the concrete results that the corporation was able to obtain as a result of your UX changes.

6. Reference

This is also one of the most important elements of your resume. Everybody likes to reach or make connections with influencers or famous high-level people to ask for references. But, who is the best person to introduce you to your future company? I would say it’s someone who really knows you. As a recruiter, I want to know more about you, not just your skills or personality but also whether you fit within our company culture. It doesn’t mean you invite famous industry leaders for referral, but you’ve only met them once at some work conference. I would not say referral by industry leaders is useless, but someone who knows your strengths, has known you for longer and has helped your career is the right person we would like to see giving you a referral. References like that come with greater trust and belief.

On the other hand, industry leaders are also not easy to get references from if they don’t really understand you. They may lose their credibility. Try to think about why you need their referral, and why they are the best referral for you! That is a true win-win mindset.

We (UXTesting) will start a new plan as UX coachers, and we will recruit and interview to accept 15 “Seed Experience Stars” for our new training program from different countries. Stay tuned, more details will be announced soon!

CEO at @uxtestingio | International Board Member at UXQCC | Professional Committee Member at UXACN | Mentor at @UXPA_Int | Main Organizer at @SavvyUXSummit