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ABOUT THE EPISODE
In this episode of the NN/g, Sarah Doody shares how UX professionals can design their UX careers and what they should think about if they’re trying to level up their existing UX careers or switch to the UX industry from a previous profession.
Working in UX can involve so many different activities, like research, design, content strategy, writing, management, and more. It can often feel a bit overwhelming to think about what to do next.
But crafting a career you love actually isn’t so different from creating a product or a service!
And with enough ingenuity, you might even be able to test out a job without quitting your current one.
In this episode, you’ll learn how to design, test, and iterate your career and your various career materials (eg. resume, portfolio, interview presentation and more) so you can have a more strategic approach to growing your UX career.
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Therese Fessenden 0:00
This is the Nielsen Norman Group UX Podcast.
I’m Therese Fessenden, have you thought about your career lately? Chances are you have, especially since the rate of voluntary resignation or quitting is at a record high in the US up to 3% as of March nine. While there are many drivers of this great resignation, it’s caused many UX professionals to reflect on their own jobs and imagine new possibilities or new chapters. And in an industry like user experience, where our work can involve so many different activities, like research, design, development management strategy consulting, it can often feel a bit overwhelming to think about what to do next. But what if I told you crafting a career you love actually isn’t so different from creating a product or a service? Turns out with enough ingenuity, you might even be able to test out a job without quitting your current one.
Today, I’m sharing a conversation with Sarah doody, UX researcher, experienced designer and founder of the career strategy Lab, which has earned her the nickname the UX career lady. Sarah shares her thoughts on how people who are both in and out of the job market can apply design principles to their own careers, to create a more fulfilling professional life.
Hey, Sarah, welcome to our show. Thanks for joining us. How are you doing today? I’m doing well. I’m excited to be here with you and chat. All things UX. Yes, me too. I’m super stoked. What inspired you to get into this field?
Sarah Doody 1:51
Yeah. So the story kind of goes way back to really high school when I was, you know, trying to answer that proverbial question, what do you want to do, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I knew I was really technical and really creative. So long story short, I was going to study neuroscience, I deferred for a year. And, you know, as history goes, I just started doing some graphic design, web design and realize this world of like web, and tech was a great combination of that technical and creative stuff, right.
And I didn’t know anything about user experience. But one day, one of my bosses gave me a copy of the book, which is called information architecture for the World Wide Web. It’s one of the O’Reilly books with the polar bear on it. And I read that, and I thought to myself, like, this is me, I’m gonna make new business cards and call myself an Information Architect. So I did.
And I just really latched on to this field, this was like, very early 2000s. And I didn’t go to school for this, I just devoured you know, all the content that was available back then, which was a heck of a lot less than it is now.
And there was this pivot point really where, you know, I think a lot of people struggle with, should I do research? Should I do design? Like, what should I get into? And I really made a pivot decision. And thought, I want to focus on that experience and research side of things. So not visual design.
Because I felt like if I tried to do at all, it’s kind of that, like, if you try and be everything, you’re not really going to be great at anything. So that’s the very short version. It certainly seems like a lot of folks in the UX field come from so many different disciplines. And I happen to find their skill set is just really compatible with a lot of the different skill sets needed in this space. Here you mentioning about the information architecture, title, and how that really called to you enough to put it on business cards. So yeah, was there a moment where you thought let’s change that to UX on the business card? Uh, yeah, I can’t remember the progression of, you know, self administered titles. But I know I had business cards that said, Information Architect, Experience Designer, experienced designer, UX researcher and experienced designer. That was kind of the niche that I tried to create for myself. But I think it’s a really important like topic here because so many people struggle with what they should call themselves, you know, on their LinkedIn on their resume even like, should I take this job whether it has Title X or title y and I’d like at the end of the day, kind of the blessing and the curse of our field is that you can call yourself anything, you know. And there’s no one that can tell you otherwise. So I just kind of ran with that, and it’s worked so far.
Therese Fessenden 5:15
That is one of the double edged swords of our field is the flexibility in titles and also in responsibilities and kind of the breadth of what our field touches. It’s, it’s quite wide. So
Sarah Doody 5:30
I definitely agree. And I think, at least I remember, like, agonizing at one point for multiple weeks, what I should make, you know, my new business cards, say, for whatever reason, I can’t remember. And in hindsight, like it was such a waste of time, because yes, your title matters. But it’s more important, like, who cares what you’re called? Can you actually deliver on things XY and Z, you know, and I think there’s a lot of people listening who probably stressed out about job titles or titles they give themselves, it’s not worth your time, like, focus on learning the skills, practicing those get into that habit of like, learn, do learn do and that’s much more valuable, long term.
Therese Fessenden 6:17
Yeah, on the topic of learn, do, and there’s this popular idea in the field that you need to have like a degree in design, but that wasn’t your path necessarily. Right? Because I’m curious, you know, what you think about that? Is there? Is there another way to start building up some of these fields? I mean, I can certainly, you know, with my biased angle, give my two cents on different ways you can learn but but I’m curious, you know, what are some of the things that you’ve seen, as far as other pads and help other people out there?
Sarah Doody 6:50
Yeah, so like I said, I don’t have a degree in design at all, I have a business slash marketing degree. But I think, you know, if I was just, you know, graduating high school or something, and I thought, I want to do user experience, and I have the time and resources to maybe put into a formal education program. I think it depends on your learning style. I know for myself, I would really benefit from the structure of a program with accountability and a community, etc, cetera. So the beauty of that is, depending on your time and budget, you know, there’s options to do a four year degree or a master’s program even, or there’s all these in intensive. So I think it really depends on what you need, and what would fit into your lifestyle, you know what I mean? But I think, if you are, let’s say, You’re what I call a career switcher. So you’re currently working in some, you know, professional field teaching journalists, psychologists, whatever. And you’re compelled to pursue user experience. I think your time is probably limited, right? Because you have your day job. So I think for you the real, the real path to get into UX, first of all, is to ask yourself, why what might I be doing already in my job, even though I don’t have the title UX in my job? Am I doing research? You know, am I designing things? Right, I had this teacher that was responsible for designing new curriculum. And like, that wasn’t user experience. But there was a ton of research that went into that. And they turned that into this research project. So it’s all about, you know, connecting those dots, especially if you’re a career switcher, and then identifying, like, areas where you need to supplement and you know, for a career switch, or maybe a more veers towards software and process, right. Versus someone just starting out who just graduated in high school and doesn’t have much professional experience, they probably need a deep dive in more topics and skills than a teacher or psychologist or their career switcher.
Yeah, yeah, definitely. It seems like the the type of learning that you want to supplement like you’re saying really should be something that you are introspective about, like where do I need to build a bit more expertise? Or where do I feel like I’m currently lacking and then using that as like your jumping off point to figure out okay, do I want to go like full degree, or am I at a point now where a full degree won’t be that much more of a return on investment compared to something that is a bit shorter or more intensive?
Right, because I think if you’re, let’s keep running with that career switcher example. You know, if you’re working full time right now or you’ve decided to take a leap, so you can get into user experience pursuing a master’s program, like, that’s a very high time and financial commitment. So I think for those people, and maybe you’ve seen this as well, but if you have, you know, 510 years experience doing something that is tangentially related to research people, you know, communication behavior, you can probably supplement. Or maybe a better way to phrase it is you can probably self educate on the things that you need to like, get your foot in the door, and play up your existing experience. And I think one trend I see is, a lot of people really sell themselves short in their presentation of themselves in that first impression that comes through, you know, in your resume, in your LinkedIn, in your portfolio, cover letters, all those things. And I’ve seen time and time again, when people can articulate their prior experience skills, etc. They’re able to be seen as a more kind of mature and experienced candidate, even though they’ve never had UX in their job title. Yeah. Oh,
Therese Fessenden 11:25
totally agree. And I think that goes for people both switching into the field, and also people who’ve been in the field for a while maybe trying to shift their current role within the space or within the industry, and underselling some of the important experiences that they did get maybe not in the traditional sense, but more, you know, maybe in a slightly different context, but utilize the same sets of either ways of thinking or solving problems.
Sarah Doody 11:54
Yeah, I think for those people that have worked in user experience for a while, you know, they kind of have this unique challenge. It’s almost envious people getting into the field, because they have so much experience. So you have this challenge of you have so much experience you could talk about. But also you might be at this fork in the road in your career, where you’ve been doing X for 10 years, however long, and you realized, you know, I’ve kind of been a generalist for 10 years, I really want to specialize this next chapter in my career, because I’ve really fallen in love with research or, or I’ve really fallen in love with healthcare or something, you know, so this combination of getting to a fork in the road and thinking, Is there a specific part of user experience and want to focus on or in an industry? I think those are challenges that are unique to those switchers. But to your point, they very, very often downplay that experience. And just to get really specific, I see a lot of kind of resumes, LinkedIn, etc, that feel very just checklist in nature, if that makes sense. So it’s like, here’s a sitemap, here are some wireframes. That did not do that. And if you’ve been working in UX for 10 years, like, that doesn’t help me get a grasp of your deeper knowledge and application of those things in specific industries or business settings, right. So if you have been working in UX for a while, and you’re struggling with your job search, I think the first thing to think about is, what is that first impression? All these career materials are creating? And does it just seem like? I’m, like having bullet lists on my resume of like skills? And software? Does my portfolio just look like, you know, a PowerPoint of deliverables? Or have I taken the time to go deeper and explain not just what I did, but why I did it, how I did it? What happened? You know, that’s, that’s the context that is missing. So much. And I know that example was for career climbers, but honestly, it’s applicable to everyone.
Therese Fessenden 14:21
Yeah, totally. Yeah. And thinking about what you bring to the table and why you personally are interested in these particular activities, or in these particular types of work. So yeah, so I guess on the topic of folks who are in the market for new UX work, like it seems like that’s a natural place to kind of take like literally taking a break, stopping and reassessing like what your goals might be, and what your expectations might be for a new role. But sometimes, like, you’re not really thinking about those priorities or expectations. until you’re in the market for a new job. So yeah, for people who aren’t job hunting is their, you know, a way to really examine your current work situation and, you know, see how you can improve. And I guess what’s tricky is like improve. And just the idea of like success in a role is, is kind of subjective in a way, because it’s like, it’s not always going to necessarily be something like promotion, right? improvement can be many different types of career advancement. So how do you know what improving your role is, like how you do that type of introspection,
Sarah Doody 15:38
I mean, this kind of goes to the idea of whether you’re doing UX research or not, it’s a very valuable skill to learn. Because to answer this question, you kind of have to be doing user research on yourself, right. And like, being very mindful and aware of your skills, the environment, you’re in the people, you’re around how that’s affecting your performance, your day to day. And, you know, I run this thing called career strategy Lab, which is all about helping people like package up their skills and experience in the form of a resume, portfolio, etc. But when they come into this program, the first thing that they do, is do a career audit. And I invented this. And it’s really the idea of like doing research on yourself. And there’s various activities such as like, reflecting, you know, on the last two, five years of your career, and almost do like a horizontal timeline of like highs and lows. And just that activity alone will help you see, wow, I really felt like I was like, shining really bright in the role here. And at this other role, because the team was a mess, or the boss was like total narcissist. Like, I never want to repeat that again, right. So doing doing these, like reflective exercises like that can be really helpful. Anything as you do that, it helps cultivate, being more mindful in your every day. I think other things you can do if you’re not looking for a job right now. First of all, congratulations, you have some breathing room. But I think one mistake people make is, you know, they don’t really think about these things until push comes to shove, and it’s time to get a new job for whatever reason. So it can be really valuable to also think into the future, not just what do you want to be doing in your next job, but what might five years from now look like? And yes, that could change because, you know, for so many reasons. But the point I’m trying to make is, it’s so important to think, one job ahead. So don’t just think about the next job you want. Think about the one after that. Because if you want to be like I don’t know, some type of UX, lead or manager or VP of design or something, that’s great. But there are probably skill gaps that you need to fill between now and that. And so maybe you can learn those in your current role, that maybe it’s going to illuminate the idea that even though you might be happy in your current job, it’s not setting you up for that job you want five years from now. So then that leaves you with the question of, can I somehow figure out how to get this experience my current role? Or if not, is it maybe time to think about other opportunities?
Therese Fessenden 18:45
Yeah, yeah, the idea of like, doing what you can with what you’ve got, and I think I remember the last time we chatted, we got on the topic of like experimentation in your current role, like, some of the things you can do in whether it’s your current area of responsibility, or maybe not, maybe you have to create like a new, a new way forward. Maybe it’s a new project that you take up, or someone that you help out in your organization. But I think the term that you told me, which is always stuck in my head was like an MVP, almost of like the dream job. So can you share a little bit more about how one can like craft a minimum viable product, but have your job like, have a career that you would dream of?
Sarah Doody 19:31
Yeah. So I think this is such a great question, because so many people probably feel trapped or stuck in a role that maybe they don’t think, is giving them enough space, like spread their UX wings. And so let’s say you’re working at a company right now. And maybe you want to get into research, but you don’t do research right now. Great. Well, this would be a great Great opportunity to think about like, what could my research job look like? Whether or not it’s at that company or another company. But if you’re fortunate enough to be working in a company right now, I think you could probably spot a lot of areas that might need some research. And then I think there’s no harm in proposing some research around whatever areas these are right? And even if someone says, No, that’s not to say you couldn’t research that on your own, right, like, maybe get permission before you talk to customers or something. But there’s so many ways that you could be doing research kind of in a very rogue way, for lack of better word to, to develop those skills. And see if you actually like it, like maybe you do it for a while, and you think, Oh, I actually don’t like research. But I think, you know, that we get so caught up on. And it’s kind of this, like, rampant expert culture, not just in UX, but in so many fields, like, I think it puts pressure on a lot of people to try and learn everything very quickly and be perfect at everything, right, like you have to know, all of figma and all of this research software, right. And I think that’s very overwhelming, because I receive a lot of messages from people who are clearly stressed out, trying to learn all the things. And I can imagine that would be very exhausting, right. And so instead of focusing on learning, you know, every single software and memorizing every single UX terminology and some book of UX terms that someone made, probably, you know, and memorizing all of these things will likely change in a while, I think it’s really important to focus on the more timeless skills. So for research, it wouldn’t be like how to know every feature of I don’t know, dovetail or something. But like, being a strong communicator, being confident in interviews, like looking at data, and like being able to quickly just analyze things at a high level without spending, you know, two weeks making some elaborate Google Sheet, you know. So that’s what I mean, when I say, think about your minimum viable product. And that also spills over to minimum viable, like in your job search, minimum viable portfolio, minimum viable resume Minimum Viable LinkedIn, because people spend months, like, honestly, sometimes years saying they’re gonna finish their portfolio. And, and I know this, because I’ve been doing this for five years, and I have hundreds of emails that say this, I’m sure. But it goes back to the, you know, product development. Like, if you keep waiting to get it perfect, you won’t know if version 1.5 would have worked, but you just spent until version five, and you wasted all that time and money. So that’s what I mean, when I say MVP,
Therese Fessenden 23:21
Yeah, oh, my gosh. And it makes me laugh. Because I’m, I know earlier, in my UX career, I did the same thing where I just kind of sat on my hands thinking, Well, I don’t have the perfect UX project to put in here. But missing, unfortunately, the opportunity to communicate the skills that I obtained through other maybe related or like adjacent types of projects, or maybe I used some of the skills, but maybe not all of them. And I mean, I guess that’s the point of the portfolio, right is to like show different kinds of projects, different times that you practice a certain skill, even if it’s not all in one neat case study. So I appreciate that. Because I probably would have liked that advice maybe seven years ago, but But it’s important to get that word out to those who you know, who are in that position now.
Sarah Doody 24:11
And to your point of like, the perfect UX portfolio, which could be its own, like documenting or something. But, you know, so many people have this belief that every project in your portfolio must go through the, quote, perfect UX process. And I say this with confidence, because I talk to people every week, who say, can I put this project in my portfolio if it didn’t launch? Or if we didn’t do research? Or if we didn’t do usability testing, and or if we jumped right to high fidelity designs, and I always turn it into a conversation and I say, Well, why did you skip research? And you know, as we can probably imagine, it’s because well, this stakeholders said this or this founder said they knew everything. And so I don’t know who is spreading this myth. I have hunches, but you know that every project must go through the perfect UX process. But that’s a great example of where sometimes a project in your portfolio might just be the research step. You know, it might just be some elaborate usability testing you did. And I think if I had to guess where this is coming from, it’s, it’s the idea that people are going through all these boot camps and education programs and learning every step of the process, and ticking all those boxes. And then as a part of their requirements for quote, graduation, they have to show a project that goes through every step. And so then they think they have to put that in their portfolio. But in the real world, like, yeah, I’ve definitely worked on projects where we didn’t do research, or we skip to high fidelity, because the product was already in market and like, we had existing designs. So for cost and time, effectiveness made sense, right, just to jump to those high fidelity designs, you know, so it’s something I wish people new to the field really could understand. Like, I feel like all the boot camps and education programs need someone, maybe me to come in and teach like, you learned UX. Now, here’s UX in the real world, you know what I mean?
Therese Fessenden 26:22
Yeah, Oh, totally. And life is messy, like UX. As much as I would love to say that every single project, you know, can and and should go through every single step, like ideally, sure, if you’re able to and right if you’re in a position to do so. But sometimes you have to just do the best with what you’re handed. And, you know, that’s really what matters. And maybe what you learn, having made mistakes like that can also be just as useful in a portfolio. So totally.
Sarah Doody 26:56
And another thing, if I were to note that I plan to redesign UX Boot Camps today, but now that I’m talking about it, I think in addition to UX in the real world, maybe I’ll write an article about that. We need like, you know, baseline business knowledge for UX people, because as a founder myself now, like I consider a career strategy lab, a product because it is and like, Have I usability tested different pages within that? No? I mean, um, why didn’t I do that? Well, because, you know, time, money, I was a one woman show for a very long time. And I went with my gut, and I monitor and analytics to tell me things, but I definitely didn’t usability test every single part of it, you know. So I think that’s an example of where, like, there’s UX that you do in academic sense. And then there’s, it’s like, booksmart versus streetsmart. Right? There’s a balance.
Therese Fessenden 27:56
Yeah. Yeah. And I do think that maybe that’s a signal to have, you know, the maturity of, you know, when I say maturity, what I mean is, like, your time and experience within the field, you start to identify, Okay, what are the battles I really need to fight? And should I prioritize my time so that I can get the maximum benefit? As opposed to maybe sweating over something that, yes, sure, if we had time, and money would be great. But otherwise, you know, maybe there’s something else that really deserves our attention a lot more. And I do think, you know, to your point, it’s, it is a street smart versus, you know, book smarts, certainly, it’s good to have book smarts as well. But ultimately, what comes down to it is, can you implement it in a way that makes sense? So yeah,
I recently saw this graphic, and it’s all blurring together, whether it was Pinterest, not Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, wherever, but it had these two columns. And on the left was like method A of learning. And on the right was method B of learning. And on the left, it had like, a bunch of rectangles stacked on each other. And it just said, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, and on the right, same rectangles, but it said, Learn, do learn, do learn, do learn do and I think like it’s so valuable to get into that rhythm of learning and implementing learning and implementing, because during that implementation, comes the understanding of some of those nuances that come up in terms of time budget, even like, you know, I can’t think of a specific example, but the healthcare or pharma industry comes to mind where, or legal or government you know, there’s so much red tape and a lot of these industries and you might want to do something that you can’t because like, you’re not allowed to show that data or you’re not. You need to get like triple permission from the user to do something. And it might break like conventional UX rules which are I’m using quotations. But in the context of that industry or project, it might be necessary. You know,
and I guess this is starting to spark some questions I have to about, you know, folks who maybe are encountering some challenges, like, what would you say are like some of the big challenges that you’re encountering, you know, people who are trying to shape their career in certain ways? You know, what are some of the challenges that, you know, prevent people from really being happy with their role? Like, what would you say is like, I guess the difference between a deal breaker versus something to overcome in a current role?
Sarah Doody 30:43
I think one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is not consider the type of companies size of company and quote, culture that they’re going into. And here’s an example. So many UX, people are really obsessed with getting hired at a fan company or household name type company, right. And there’s this perceived allure and badge of honor, I guess, that some people believe exists. And I think that can go a couple of ways, right? Because some companies, you could go, and there’s like, very unbalanced expectations of how much you’re gonna work, you know, it also could be a situation of those companies, because they’re so large, and they have such big budgets, they, there is a possibility that they’re quite siloed. And by that, I mean, if you’re early in your career and wanting to dabble your feet, and a lot of UX stuff, you might not touch research, because that research team is like, you know, 100 people over in some other part of the company, right? So I think it’s really important before you apply to a company even are definitely accepted job to think like, what do I need from this in terms of a manager, a team? What is the maturity of this organization? On the flip side, you know, if you went to like a small company, a startup because there’s all the lore around those, like, what people don’t realize until they’re in is Oops, no, I’m a UX team of one. And I’m new to my field. And there is no mentor there to guide me, you know. And so, I think like, the things that people obsess about title and salary are the wrong things to focus on, right. And it’s more of those intangibles that not intangibles, but more things that you’re going to encounter and things that will impact your day to day experience, right?
Therese Fessenden 33:02
Yeah, and it’s funny, too, just thinking about what we talked about at the very beginning, which is that titles often don’t matter. It’s like, ya know, Whose Line is it? Anyway? The all the titles are made up? Oh, I mean, I guess Yeah, rules matter. Lindenwold guidelines matter a little bit, but mostly, it’s, what do you want to do with your time? And, and who cares what the title is, you know, looking at the job description in in the interview process? Are you interviewing the company to and asking questions about what the role entails? Like, making sure it’s, it’s helping to fill you know, some of the things other than title other than salary? That would make that job fulfilling in some way? Yeah.
Sarah Doody 33:45
And I think like, in our field, like, I remember starting my career and kind of going down this path of thinking, Okay, I’m gonna be a graphic designer, and then I’ll be an art director, and then I’ll be a creative director. Because that was like this vague progression in the graphic design world. And like, yes, maybe you could create parallels for the UX industry. But as we know, like a UX lead or UX Chief Design Officer at a startup might be like, a mid level designer at Amazon or something, you know, so, to me, it’s really meaningless. And I think maybe in the past, people thought, okay, recruiters and hiring managers are going to look at my LinkedIn or resume and scan my job titles, and if they don’t see a progression, it’s going to make them think, you know, not that great or something. But like, think of the real estate on your resume, right? The title is, like half a line long. What’s under there a bunch of bullet points. And so if you write strong bullet points that communicate what you literally did and the impact of that, that’s far going to outshine any like, random job type. Although some person in HR made up when they had to write your job description,
Therese Fessenden 35:04
right, yeah. And that’s an important point to like, as much as we would love to have, you know, the person who will be your supervisor to come up with a title, it isn’t always so yeah, you know, making sure that you’re reflecting on what ultimately it entails. And, and if you’re using that, as a career stepping stone, you know that you’re able to ultimately write those bullet points down. And I guess that’s really the takeaway, right is thinking about what are the those key experiences that you want to have, in order to get where you need to go?
Sarah Doody 35:35
Yeah, and I would say like, there’s kind of two examples in my career where I was at dysfunctional startups, where I guess my superpower is somewhat that I’m a generalist, and I’m a generalist, and enough stuff that I can kind of be dangerous. You in that, like, I can see the interplay between like product and marketing, right. And so in a couple of these startups, they definitely couldn’t figure out what to do with me. And I was kind of just like, one time, I was put in a corner with the tech team and told, like, just go work with them. And we worked on this, like natural language, language processor thing. I don’t even know how I did it. But I was like, helping design this thing. And then in this other startup, I kind of like spearheaded a ton of marketing, because the marketing people weren’t marketing. And I say that because it was a little rogue. But I was so confident in my strengths and areas of expertise. And in hindsight, if I hadn’t have kind of like, followed my true strengths and not stayed inside the box that people put me in those some of the both of those companies would not have gone on to do certain things. Because there was no like, instigator, which was me, does that make sense? So I think sometimes you have to play, it doesn’t balance, I’m not saying like, just go rogue and step on anyone’s toes. But I think there is value in like, the awareness that I had of my skills and experience and the holes in the company. And if you can be looking out for those holes, and how you might fill them, and then diplomatically, present a solution to the right people that can work to your favor, and it can open up doors, to do more of, like, in my case, do more marketing, because my ideas turned out to be pretty good. So hopefully, that’s helpful for some people, I don’t know,
Therese Fessenden 38:03
I do think that’s helpful. And, and goes back to the point to have, you know, really not under selling yourself not under selling your strengths and, and being able to find those opportunities to really deliver in ways that maybe other people wouldn’t have anticipated that you deliver. And yeah, I think as long as you’re looking for those, then a, you’re making your organization a better place, which is important if you want to stay in your current role. But even if you’re looking into a new role, then you’re able to show your value in a way that’s that is more tangible. So yeah,
no, it’s like you’re these rogue things that I was doing, they were creating content and experience that I could put in my resume in my portfolio, etc. So if you’re feeling like you have skill gaps back to what we were talking about before, maybe there are ways that you can do things in your current role to help provide, you know, evidence of that I always say, you know, your portfolio and your resume, you have to kind of think of the whole thing like a lawyer and that you are there to present evidence to the jury, which is the people hiring you and interviewing you. And so if you need more evidence of certain skills, then go make or find that evidence, right?
Yeah, like, go forth and just do it in a way like if Yeah, even if it’s not your company, that you’re that I love the term rogue, by the way, because even if it’s not within the, you know, the span of your responsibility at your company that you currently work in, or maybe you don’t even work in an organization right now and you’re, you’re trying to get your foot into this industry, like just finding opportunities to go and practice those skills. I think that’s what ultimately matters.
Sarah Doody 39:53
And I would I want to build on that because there’s this trend in the industry of like, you UI challenges in which, you know, calendar picker is better he and his silly LinkedIn poll. And not to make fun of those. But my problem with these kind of like, solve this problem I brought you on a silver platter thing is that it’s not the real world, right? So a better example would be, you had to book an appointment for your dog at the veterinarian, and their website was so horrible and the booking thing didn’t work. Wow, look that that’s a real problem with a real business. And like real users, you could probably go fix that, you know. So I always tell people, like do an experiment for a week and be a problem spotter. And that means take photos, write things down, take screenshots of bad experiences you encounter. And then look at the end of seven days, probably three days, you will have so many things you could fix that are real, and not like, here’s a new checkout page I designed that only focused on the interface and didn’t focus on everything else. So maybe some people need to go off and be problem spotters to
Therese Fessenden 41:13
Absolutely. Do you want it to give some like parting wisdom, for some folks who are thinking of, you know, what they should seek out? Right. So I know, we talked about what might make people a bit unhappy, right? What are some things that you know, ultimately make people really satisfied with the careers they get, you know, if you do manage to stay in touch with some of those folks who you help along the way?
Sarah Doody 41:40
Yeah, I think, you know, after helping so many people get hired, I think the ones that, like have the testimonials that say like, Yes, I doubled my salary, but I’m so happy because now I’m doing work that really aligns with my interests, my values, or that I know is setting me up for that, you know, kind of top of the mountain career goal, I have to be a whatever. And so I think that, you know, that takes time, right, you’re not going to get your first UX job, most likely, you won’t know that, you definitely want to work on, you know, consumer health products or something. It takes time. But I think there’s this phase of kind of experimentation, and sampling, all the various ways that you can work in UX. And then there’s this phase of following the path to the things that are going to truly make you fulfilled, right, because, you know, we think a better title or a better salary is going to solve all our problems, were going to be so happy, but probably won’t. But what will make you happy is when you, you know, get to work on that thing that had such an impact for those people that you care so much about, right? Or that allowed you to, you know, experiment with? I don’t know virtual reality, because you’re so into that or something. So, those are just the things to keep in mind. As you you know, progress along your career journey.
Therese Fessenden 43:30
Yeah, yeah. Just just keeping in mind, you know, what are some of the bigger goals beyond salary beyond title? But yeah, it means helping other people if it means doing a skill that intellectually is exciting. Yeah, maybe challenges you definitely seems like those are the things that might lead to, you know, lasting career decisions, as opposed to one you might regret or something like that.
Sarah Doody 43:55
Yeah. Because, you know, like, Yes, I do this career strategy lab thing now. And I really treat it like a business that a product because it is, and it’s so easy to get bogged down in, like the numbers and conversion rates and is this page performing well, and blah, blah, blah. And it’s very exciting to me when I see a conversion rate go up or something like that, but it’s, I underestimated the impact that, you know, this whole thing would have in helping people someone nearly tripled their salary last week or two weeks ago, and to get testimonials like that, like, every single week, um, that has been very fulfilling. And I think back to what I said, you know, early in your career, you’re so focused on like the tangibles right and early in my business. I was focused on the tangibles, and now that the tangibles conversion rates etc. are Working. Now I can actually like step back and really appreciate the impact. Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. Anyway, there’s a time for everything. Yeah,
Therese Fessenden 45:13
absolutely. Just getting like, sure you will have some tangible things. And you know, it’s nice to have them but it’s really the intangible stuff that makes that lasting impact in your own life as well as in the lives of others. Definitely. Yeah. Well, Sarah, this has been great. Thank you for for being here. If others want to learn more about your career let career as a career strategy lab. Career Strategy Lab.
Sarah Doody 45:37
Yes, you want to learn more? Yeah, you can go to careerstrategylab.com. I’m also fairly active on social media, mainly Twitter, which is Sarah doody. YouTube, is Sarah doody. An Instagram is Sarah Doody. UX. I lock my personal Instagram down, but you can follow my UX one at Sarah doody UX. Yeah. And then of course, Sarah doody, dark, calm, awesome.
Therese Fessenden 46:10
That was Sarah Doody. You can find links to her website and other social media in the show notes, along with some of our own research on UX careers covering things like career progression, hiring, and crafting portfolios. And while we’re on the topic of careers, we’re hiring, we’re recruiting both entry level and experienced UX specialists. So if you’d like to work with us, the deadline to apply is Monday, April 4. You’ll find more information on that at our website, www dot n n group.com. That’s nngroup.com. Finally, my humble request if you like this show, the best way that you can support us is to leave a rating and hit subscribe. This show is hosted and produced by me to Therese Fessenden. All sound editing and post production is by Jonas Selder music is by Tiny Music and dressed in the flamingo. That’s it for today’s show. Thanks for listening. Until next time, remember, keep it simple.