Resume Tips for Breaking Into UX

Unintelligible Writing by Amédée Forestier

You might be surprised to know that many UX designers and researchers put little, if any, effort into their resumes. While many designers place a greater importance on a snazzy portfolio (which is important), they miss the opportunity to get initially noticed because their resume grossly undersells their value and contribution.

Hiring managers may not look at your portfolio because your resume is so bad.

Let’s review some practical tips and tricks for writing a killer UX resume.

Tip #1: Write for Couple of Audiences

Your resume will get “read” (or scanned) by recruiters, hiring managers, potential co-workers, and a computer. Each of these audiences (including a computer or job bank) wants specific information.

  • Recruiters: They want to know if you are a match for the job openings they already have in their pipeline. Recruiters want to know if you are a good fit for what their clients need.
  • Hiring Managers: They want to know if you have the skills needed to do the job. Plus, they want to know how your previous work has impacted the bottom line of a company.
  • Potential Co-Workers. They want to know about your skills, past experiences, tools you use, people you know, organizations you participate in, and your education.
  • Computers: Many companies put your resume into a job bank. These systems will scan your resume and search for keywords. Recruiters s and HR people get report of acceptable candidates based on keywords.

You should write your resume with this knowledge in mind. You will get noticed by the words and phrases on your resume.

Tip #2: Explain How You Affected the Bottom Line

As a hiring manager, I want to know that my employees understand how their contribution affects the bottom line. How do you help the company to make or save money? What did you do to make your co-workers, department, or product teams more efficient?

Most people write duty-based resumes, where they simply explain the different activities they performed. Your portfolio and prototypes show you know what (and how) to do your job. Your resume is your chance to sell yourself.

You do not market your worth, your value, or your…self in a duty-based resume.

Duty-based resumes read like re-purposed job descriptions. Plus, they are very stale and boring. Here is an example of a duty-based resume:

  • At XYZ company, I redesigned the company website. I performed sketching, wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing. The launch was successful.

While the above information is technically accurate, it is not sexy and lacks lacks any pop or sizzle. It does not show your work affected the bottom line. Let’s re-write the above to tease out some details to interest the reader:

  • Redesigned the XYZ company site leading to 20% conversion increase
  • Sketched 50 different ideas for the product page alone
  • Performed low-fidelity usability test with wireframes with major clients
  • Uncovered 27 usability issues, which were fixed prior to initial launch

The bottom-line approach gives your work significance and illustrates how you made an impact for the company. Plus, these bullet points on your resume tease the reader to ask you a question about a specific task or project.

Tip #3: Use Names and Numbers in Your Resume

People scan resumes to look for interesting information. They look for familiar names or interesting numbers. These small factoids give them insights into potential candidates.

You can have many different types of names in your resume:

  • Companies: show the firms you have worked with in the past
  • Organizations: illustrate how you see yourself or where you learn
  • Mentors: show the caliber of people who educate you
  • Projects: describe the importance of the work you have done

Numbers are equally important. They make your resume resonate:

  • Percentages: show the impact you have made to a project
  • Savings: illustrates how you saved time or money
  • Increases: measure how you made money for the company
  • Raw number: shows the magnitude of your accomplishments

People enjoy (and remember) names and numbers. These names and numbers help them to tell your story to other people (especially, hiring managers).

Tip #4: Resume and Linked-In Must Match

You must have a resume that matches your Linked-In profile. People actually do want want to see different information on your resume than your LinkedIn profile. The different information on LinkedIn should only add to the basic story you tell on your actual resume.

Hiring managers will notice differences between your resume and LinkedIn.

Your LinkedIn profile should match the high points of your resume, such as your job history, education, organizations, and so on. If a recruiter, hiring manager, and HR sees a major difference in these areas, they immediately become suspicious and question your honesty (and attention to detail).

On LinkedIn, people will look at your profile for additional information, which only further supports the main points on your resume. Hiring managers use LinkedIn to:

  1. See recommendations from other people on specific jobs
  2. Review how other people rank your skill sets
  3. Read your Pulse articles or slides from Slideshare
  4. Check out your past work history
  5. Review your connections and professional groups

With your resume, people want to move beyond the LinkedIn profile:

  1. Specifics about projects you have done
  2. Ways you have affected the bottom line
  3. Different tools, tactics, and techniques you have used

Your resume and LinkedIn profile should have matching dates, job titles, and company names. In many respects, you should view your resume and LinkedIn profile as complimentary pieces of information.

Tip #5: Provide Plenty of Links in Your Resume

Your resume should have several links beyond the link to your portfolio site. You should include links to:

  • Send you an email
  • Review your LinkedIn profile
  • Open your portfolio site
  • Go to previous companies where you have worked

Many hiring managers will just scan a resume to click on these links. If they like what they see on these different sites, your resume receives more credibility. They many actually read it.

Let me know of other resume tips and tricks for UX designers!

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