Hidden strengths of UX beginners (that give you an advantage over design experts)
Transitioning into UX design means facing challenges like impostor’s syndrome, not being sure if you’re “good enough” at design and countless other stresses. But it’s not all doom and gloom. You have strengths as a UX beginner; don’t forget these 5 advantages during your UX job search journey.
1. You’re up to date on the latest tools and design processes
UX beginners are always competing with other applicants and are incentivized to use the latest UX tools of the trade, whether that’s Adobe XD or Figma. Sometimes, starting with newer tools and processes is easier than switching to new ones. Veteran UX designers might only be familiar with software like Sketch or Photoshop and find it tougher to switch.
Many UX bootcamps (like DesignLab or Google UX Certification) build their curriculum to describe a more holistic recipe for tackling design problems. While this is a very idealistic and formulaic approach to design, it walks beginners through different methodologies to be able to look at problems from a different perspective. Therefore, recent graduates can leverage their “fresh” eyes on a stubborn problem.
There are endless free and paid UX resources to jumpstart your design career. Online instructors are incentivized to keep up with the design industry, so it’s likely that UX beginners will be exposed to newer developments (anthropomorphic or retro UI design, anyone?) than UX veterans.
2. You’re flexible with change and accepting of new ideas
UX beginners have the advantage of being at “peak curiosity.” Eagerness to learn can make you more adaptable to new ideas and work environment. Plus, you’re not confined to specific methodologies and you’re likely to try new workflows.
New designers tend to know a breadth of UX concepts, whereas UX veterans may have given up some of that breadth for specialty. That doesn’t prevent either from becoming T-shaped designers, though beginners may have more flexibility to choose the areas to delve deeper in.
3. You may be closer to your product’s target group
While it’s important to account for personal biases during the research and ideation phases of design, it can be an advantage to be able to relate to a product’s target audience. For example, I may be less likely to judge — and more likely to understand — those in my generational cohort.
As a millennial, I might have less friction in understanding my generational cohort during user research. Being closer to the wants, needs, and even vernacular of my age group can help, thought I’ll also need to keep an open mind (like always) to not make assumptions about people outside my cohort.
Note from Oz: when I was a newer UX designer, I was asked to sit in on some specific panels that targeted millennial purchasing behavior. I remember once helping my team (which comes from varying backgrounds) understand the sentiment during a UXR session (what do they mean when they say “that’s lit?”).
Curious about how millennials are different? Read A Millennial’s Guide To Designing For Millennials by Fatema Khalil to grabs some useful design tips.
4. You have fresh industry experiences to apply to UX
Many UX career transitioners have experience in other industries that can be applied to design. As a learning technologist, I build learning experiences in higher-ed. So, I am able to apply the same empathy, research, and decision-making process to other design projects as well.
Imagine the same for a medical student helping a healthcare startup, or a lawyer transitioning to design for legaltech.
Almost every industry requires user experience to some degree. Regardless of your background, you can use your previous work experience to inform your decisions in design. Therefore, to transition into UX, don’t ignore your past — you’ll be surprised by the dots you can connect!
Moreover, there are many soft skills like collaboration, organization, and communication that you can apply from one job to another. Therefore, I think that the diversity of your experience should add to what you can bring to the table.
5. You’re hungry and motivated
This is probably the biggest advantage UX beginners should leverage — your energy and motivation. Current UX designers are focused on their job at hand and have less time to upgrade their skills or explore the new edges of UX design.
Being an underdog is not a bad thing, and can be quite rewarding as you unlock new levels for yourself.
Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.
— Steve Jobs
Now, if you’ve read through that list and still have an unwanted sense of insecurity, no worries! We’ve got some more tips for you — check out the funny-but-true How to get a UX Job in 4 Easy Steps. The first step is to understand that UX is a copycat field and you’ve gotta “fake it until you make it”!
And lest you’re looking for more motivation, we’ll leave you with a classic: