Confessions of a UX recruiter (Part 1)

I’m a UX recruiter. My job is to match talented professionals with opportunities from digital employers. I’m one of these #recruitersthatux. UX is my business. The evolution of technology has played a key role in the emergence of these UX and UI disciplines that have generated a huge number of job opportunities.

This year I reviewed more than 1,300 portfolios, interviewed 250 candidates and helped to employ several number of UXers in digital companies. I would like to present a positive twist in a list of tips in order to focus on what a UX employe should look for. These are my confessions as a UX recruiter:

Most of the candidates I interviewed don’t have a clear title on their resumes. Are you a UI or UX designer? Ambiguity is constant and they happen to live in the dark. The first call to action is to define yourself. You may chose from the conceptual layer to the physical layer. From the UX perspective to the UI discipline. Analyze your strengths, you should be able to define in which area you are a champion: Experience strategist, User researcher, Interaction designer or Information architect. Make a daily activities assessment of your UX and UI strengths. Understanding your shape and how you want to develop is really useful throughout your career. This is particularly relevant as it is based on roles fragmentation on client side and consultancy agencies. But the complexity, sophistication of these disciplines will continue to grow. It is a real demand from large organizations putting together these heterogeneous teams of specialists.

There is a large candidates funnel and the selection precess starts with your application. As you can imagine any incomplete application won’t be reviewed. Take your time to prepare your application. A complete application will include a customized cover letter attached to your application. Be clear, transparent and personalize, always personalize. Introduce yourself. Describe what kind of UX or UI person you are. Describe your journey. Employers will want to know who are you. Digital employers want to know what makes you different everyone else. Share conference talks you’ve given, blog posts you have written, share quotes and LinkedIn references.

In parallel you should standardize your big picture. Get involved and make a unique voice uploading a complete resume aligned with you social networks. You will use LinkedIn to reach CEO’s, Behance to inspire decision makers as UX Leads and Dribbble to promote your methodology across the UX community.

Back to the portfolio’s subject: It is extremely difficult to find a structured UX digital portfolio. 80% portfolios are incomplete. If your goal is to improve your actual UX job you must show your methodology and work processes. It is not so difficult: explain to the audience who you are, how you do it and the story behind each ‘sexy pic’. It is important to present your projects as a story, using storytelling. Storytelling provides a level of context and constraints. Show only your better jobs, do not put very similar work and be in confidence with them. Make your portfolio easily scannable, and maintain a glance meaning and allow more information if it is desired. And remember, your work can only be evaluated within its context. It is extremely important to describe the challenges and the context. Describe the process you went through. Indicate the sort of skills you used and communicate the outcomes.

You should maintain your portfolio simple and focus on content. Humanize communication and show your sketches, how you conducted research, how evolved to wireframes and are consolidated as dynamic prototypes. How you tackle a challenge from brief to detailed design. So do not throw any mockup. Always carry your favorite photo app and document any step. Your notebook should be your travel journal. Publish your portfolio under your domain name and please do not strain especially designing a container. There are great tools to do that. Just think about the audience and the story to share. So you have to take it seriously at once.

Get over NDAs. Do not use more this annoying excuse for professionalism. Digital employers respect mutual confidentiality. Everyone knows the honor code: what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. So, things we will share in an interview are confidential. In parallel your work can be password and time protected with a websites behind a password.

Your design skills and methodologies when presenting your portfolio should stand out. Does it means, flawless attention to all details and consistency with your speech are relevant. Are you able to talk about ‘Gestalt’, relating it to information architecture and then to interaction design pattern applied? Try to connect the dots. Digital employers are looking for generalists. People who are just smart with balanced empathy. People that are willing to learn and adopt quickly. We need passion and vocation. Self awareness candidates and critical thinkers with the ability to flip perspectives are welcome. And last but not least, people who enjoy the UX and UI disciplines!

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