So You’ve Passed General Assembly’s UXD Immersive…
Just this week I’ve had a few approaches about joining my team at M&S Digital, so I thought a few tips might be beneficial for those of you looking to land your first UX Designer gig.
1. Tell me what you did before
Project manager? Retoucher? Back end developer? Regretful salesperson? Undefinable marketeer? Furtive lettings agent?
Your ability to talk about your previous working life before embarking on the course is the most important thing to me. This is where all your soft skills will come out. You might have worked in a digital agency for years in another role, or sold rubbish products to people quite successfully. This is interesting to me. Tell me about it. Tell me about how those skills will help you become a great designer. Then tell me why you’ve made this transition.
2. Don’t tell me about your case studies
Not real clients. No money on the line. Nothing has shipped. It’s spec work.
Whether it’s a fictional John Lewis project or a fictional mobile app for GDS, all it tells me is you can wireframe, which these days isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be.
3. Don’t worry about tools and techniques
I’m not going to hire someone because they use Sketch over Axure, or an IDE over Omnigraffle. Tools can be learned on the job. Don’t worry about it. You will get bonus points from many for being comfortable in a text editor or being able to dive straight into front end code. Some may decry the full stackiness of the designer role but there are clear advantages to being able to present something in a browser. However, be careful of not talking yourself into a job where, heaven forbid, you have access to production.
4. Team Team Team
Ask a lot of questions about the team. Lots.
How will you be supported? Who is going to be checking in on your work? Do you like and respect that person? Are you being interviewed by someone you’re likely only going to see for half an hour every fortnight? How many Juniors do they have? Is it something they’ve supported much in the past? Is the current team super flat in its structure or rigorously hierarchical? Any success stories? Will you be working on your own in a product team or on a bench of designers? Who will mentor you?
5. Operate one job ahead
It might be inconceivable at this point in time, but there’s nothing wrong with thinking about your next job after this one. What will the narrative be in your next role? What from this potential role will get you there? It’s probably too early to be thinking of specialising, but having a view of where you might get to is important.
6. Look beyond the Design Team
Tech stacks. Product team structure. Engineering culture. All very important things. How will you work with them. What kind of technology culture do you want to be part of.
What’s the ratio of product folk to designers? It should be 1:1 in an ideal world but if it’s 3 or 4:1 then GTFO.
7. Don’t cold-add me on LinkedIn
Think of your audience. Imagine me, sitting at my desk, deleting deleting deleting all my requests from people I don’t know with a nice cup of tea.
I won’t notice you unless you bother to write something witty, but LI is a terrible place to introduce yourself and showcase your skills.
The internet should be able to tell you if I have any open roles, and I don’t then it’s unlikely I can hire people for the sake of it.
8. Be wary of doing your old job
Hadn’t thought of this one until a GAer mentioned it to me. You will feel enormously flattered once you receive an offer or two, but watch out for smaller outfits without a single designer who want you for your wicked business skills.
You may well be a designer by job title but could easily end up doing the account or PM or engineering role you used to do.
9. Do they do User Research?
You won’t be doing UX Design (or whatever we’re calling it this week).