Listen to the Episode
Wondering how to navigate the overwhelming world of job applications in UX? Discover how to narrow down your search by focusing on company culture and size. And don’t dismiss the power of a well-crafted cover letter; it could be the ticket to standing out from the competition.
Looking to advance your career within your current company? Learn how to seize opportunities by strategically expressing your interests and aligning them with the company’s goals. Balancing self-promotion with your employer’s needs is key in these discussions.
Curating your skills can be a challenge, especially when job descriptions are not aligning with your varied skill set. Gain insights into how to highlight the most relevant skills for each application, ensuring that potential employers see your true value.
Join us as we uncover the secrets to making an impact in the UX field and leveling up your career. Get ready to take charge of your professional journey – it’s time to get after it.
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Discussion Questions About The Episode
- What criteria would you consider when deciding what types of companies you want to work at for your career? How might this impact your job search and overall career trajectory?
- How do you feel about cover letters when applying for jobs? Do you believe they are still relevant and valuable, or do you think they are a waste of time? Share your thoughts and experiences.
- How do you approach finding new opportunities within your current company? Do you wait for management to approach you with specific opportunities, or do you take the initiative to come up with proposals and express your interest? Reflect on your preferred approach and its effectiveness.
- When it comes to curating your skills and experiences on your resume or portfolio, how do you determine what is relevant to the jobs you're applying for? How do you ensure that your skills align with the job descriptions without overcrowding your application with unnecessary information?
- How do you prioritize the details and presentation of your application materials, such as your resume, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile? Do you pay careful attention to spelling, grammar, and design principles? Reflect on how the quality and presentation of your application materials can impact your chances of standing out to potential employers.
Sarah Doody [00:00:00]: Hey there. I’m Sarah Doody, host of the Career Strategy Podcast. Many professionals are seeking more impact, flexibility, growth, and let’s face it, getting paid what they’re worth. But how do you unlock this in your career? It starts with strategy. I’m taking you behind the scenes of what’s working for my career coaching clients. You’ll hear strategies and actionable, yet sometimes against the grain, advice for how you can be the CEO of your career and stop in Mondays. Ready to level up your career? Let’s get after it. So I see a bunch of questions gems that are coming in.
Sarah Doody [00:00:44]: So let’s jump to it and get to as many as we possibly possibly can. Alright. I See, Gina wants to know, with so many UX design jobs wanting all kinds of experience, how do you recommend approaching applying for jobs? Hubs. Our cover letter is necessary. You just finished an education program for UX, and you wanna apply for everything. Alright. I’m gonna answer this in a couple of parts. So let’s start from the end.
Sarah Doody [00:01:13]: You wanna apply for everything. So If you’re earlier in your career, I totally understand why you would want to apply for everything because You don’t know maybe what type of company you wanna work at or if any specific industries, you know, interest you. Maybe Years from now, you realize you really wanna work in health care or finance or travel or something like that. Right? So I totally understand that. And one thing you could do to help focus your job search, Gina, is to focus less on what Companies do you wanna work at in terms of industry or what you might wanna focus on in the future. You know, maybe you realize you really wanna focus on research or UX writing someday. Instead of getting caught up in all those details, I would Start thinking about what types of companies do you wanna work at. Meaning, are there certain cultures? Are there certain Sizes of companies.
Sarah Doody [00:02:19]: Do you really wanna work at a start up, or are you thinking, you know, I wanna work at a big established company like Amazon or YouTube or who knows what? Delta Airlines. Right? So you could think about company size, Company age, for lack of better word, company culture. Like, are you very much wanting to work at a company that’s very mission driven or conscious or environmentally conscious. Could you be thinking about criteria like you really need to work at a company with specific benefits they offer. So, Gina, that might help you narrow down or start to narrow down your job search. Concerning how do you approach applying to jobs, and are cover letters necessary? So cover letters, I would say, yes. It can’t hurt. Now many people would love to argue and say cover letters are dead, and they’re a waste of your time, and how dare companies ever ask you for a cover letter.
Sarah Doody [00:03:21]: But I think if you write a good kind of baseline cover letter, then it’s not gonna take you much time to just tweak that for different jobs you apply to, and what if the cover letter is the thing that gets their attention and gets you an initial interview. So for the kinda potential return on investment of making a cover letter, I think there is potential very high return on investment, meaning an interview, so why wouldn’t you make a cover letter? And so few people write a clear and engaging and short cover letter that if you do a good cover letter, it will catapult the chances that you actually stand out. So that’s my thoughts on cover letters. And then how do you recommend applying to jobs and approaching that that process to begin with. So like I said, clarity of kinda companies you wanna work at and kinda developing a criteria around that. Also, I would say really focus on relationships and using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is where recruiters and hiring managers Hangout. That is also where they use the recruiting tool called LinkedIn Recruiter.
Sarah Doody [00:04:38]: So They will not find you in LinkedIn recruiter if your profile is not optimized, is not filled with strategic keywords, and phrases that relate to the jobs you want. If your work history isn’t finished, like, if you they go to your profile and it’s half filled out. That’s not a good first impression. The other thing that a lot of people don’t know is that if you have specific companies you want to work at. You should be what’s called engaging with their company on LinkedIn, any posts that the company makes, even people that work there. Because when the LinkedIn algorithm sees that you, as a potential candidate, are engaging, commenting, liking, etcetera, content from the company and people who work at the company. Guess what? LinkedIn Recruiter may prioritize you in the search results when candidate or when recruiters and hiring managers are looking for people inside LinkedIn recruiter. So, Gina, I know that was a lot.
Sarah Doody [00:05:48]: I hope that wasn’t too overwhelming. You have to go back and relisten to this and take Some notes, but I know those answers alone probably covered many questions that other people had. So let’s see what else we have. Thomas wants to know, what is the best approach to discover career opportunities when working at a company, come up with specific proposals and ask management or express interest in opportunities and wait for management to come forward with specific opportunities. So I think to clarify Thomas’s question, this question is, what’s the best way to find opportunities at the company you’re already working at to gain new skills, experience, responsibilities, etcetera. I think that is the question. So for that, I think, you know, this is a great opportunity to make the most of any 1 on ones or performance reviews that you have with your boss Or manager, if you have one of those coming up, you might wanna plan on bringing that up as something that you wanna talk about. Like, Hey.
Sarah Doody [00:06:58]: I’d really love to, you know, learn more about this or develop more skills in that or a certain software or something. I would be prepared to bring that up. Now I think what you wanna do is try and tie that back to how does that help the company. You know? How does that help your manager? How is that gonna make their life better or easier or something like that? So where possible, Try and think of that so when you kinda bring this up, it doesn’t just sound like me, me, me, and I want and I want, but I’d be really interested in learning x, and I’d be able to apply this to my job in these ways. That, I think, will be received a lot better than just, I wanna learn all these things. Do you have any budget for this? You know? So make it about them as well as you. But If you only make it about you, probably won’t go over well. The other thing I would say is if you don’t have a 1 on 1 or a performance review coming up.
Sarah Doody [00:08:01]: Then I would make a point to get some time either on your boss’s calendar or bosses are busy. They They maybe don’t want another meeting. So maybe you could lay this out in an email, maybe even make a little presentation or pitch deck. You know? Keep it short, but I think, hopefully, Thomas, that gives you some ideas for what you could do to, you know, find opportunities that might exist in your company. Comey, I answered your question already. If you’re just Tuning in midway, we covered what’s the best way to apply for jobs as a new UX designer. In addition to focusing on LinkedIn and relationships, I will also say pay attention to the details of your resume, of your portfolio, of your LinkedIn profile. It sounds silly that I even have to say this, but spell check, Grammar check.
Sarah Doody [00:09:01]: Use Grammarly. Pay attention to the actual UX design, layout, color choices, hierarchy, alignment, all these basic design principles, especially if you are applying as a visual designer. You don’t wanna have slides in your portfolio that are hard to read because everything is smooshed together, and there is no hierarchy and not enough white space, etcetera. Same thing for your resume. So hopefully that gives you some ideas. Okay. Becky said a question about curating skills because you’ve learned a lot of software and coding skills, but you’re not always sure all of it is relevant to the jobs you’re applying to, especially where the job description is saying they really need UX designer, but the role is not called UX Anything. Okay.
Sarah Doody [00:10:01]: So when it comes to thinking about all of the skills and all of the experience that you could include, Becky, the one thing to think about is and let’s take your resume, for example, and you can kind of extrapolate these tips to everywhere else. But Tip number 1 is you could think about on your resume, can you group your skills into logical groups? So maybe you have a section of skills that are all about research. Maybe you have another section of skills that are all about project management or design systems or I don’t know what. I think you don’t wanna get so granular that there’s only 2 skills in a group. That would kinda seem weird to me, but I’ve seen people group it into, like, design and research or research and project management or UX writing and research, you know, depending on what the person does. So, Becky, that might give you some ideas for how to curate the skills. The other thing to think about is that, especially when it comes to your resume, this is where taking the time To make a separate version of your resume for every job you apply to could help you Really shine a spotlight on the skills that are most relevant based on the job you’re applying to right now. Of course, you can’t do this with your LinkedIn.
Sarah Doody [00:11:26]: You can’t make a different version of your LinkedIn for every job you apply to, but your resume, you can’t. So that might mean you’re rewording some bullet points. You are adding some bullet points. You’re removing some bullet points to I love I love how you phrase it. Curating your skills. Right? And Curation is such a really important part of our career, our job search, because What you want people to know about you may vary from role to role. So always be thinking about how can I Curate my resume, my portfolio, what I say in interviews, my cover letter, etcetera? Let’s see. Valerie wants to know, what’s the best way to approach recruiters? Cold email them.
Sarah Doody [00:12:17]: What are some interesting ways I’ve seen other designers get people to pay attention to them? So let’s talk about cold messaging. Some people are not afraid of cold messaging. For other people, it is, like, worse than public speaking. So How do you stand out to people when you’re cold messaging them? What you wanna do is never have to call send a cold email to begin with or a cold message. Now how do you do that? Well, let’s think about this. So cold emails are cold because they’re a stranger. They don’t know you. So what you can do, start to increase your visibility with people you might want a cold message well before you ever message them.
Sarah Doody [00:13:04]: And if you do this, your message or email will not come across as Cold message. It’ll be more lukewarm. And another way to say this is if You are messaging someone that you’ve never interacted with, they’ve never seen your profile picture or your name before, You’re gonna be a stranger. Like, we could maybe rephrase cold emails to stranger emails. Right? On the other hand, If you know you want to apply to a job at a certain company or there are certain hiring managers or recruiters that you might wanna reach out to someday, Start talking to them on LinkedIn. Like LinkedIn, like it or not, that’s where people are found, are noticed, and get hired. And so on LinkedIn, you wanna become friendly with these people. And how do you do that? Go to their profile and start commenting on their posts, liking their posts, sharing their posts.
Sarah Doody [00:14:07]: Now The one important thing to do though is when it comes to commenting, you kind of just have to use a bit of common sense and Social etiquette. Don’t go to the profile of someone that you want to kind of become friendly with and just like their past to 20 posts and put comments on everyone, and I say this because it’s happened to me. And when I log in to LinkedIn or Instagram or somewhere else and I see, like, someone has liked Twenty of my things. It feels like a little stalker to me. In the same way, when you’re leaving comments, Don’t just comment and say, like, cool, nice, thanks. Like, one word comments are boring. If you wanna be memorable, come up with something beyond just 1 liners in your comments. And when you do this, When you show up, you’ll become more visible.
Sarah Doody [00:15:07]: You’ll become like an acquaintance, let’s say, and then When you message them, they’ll be more likely to think, oh, that’s Sarah. I recognize her photo or her name because she comments on my LinkedIn every now and then. Maybe I’m actually gonna read the message. So, Valerie, I hope that gives you and everyone some ideas of what to do when it comes to, you know, cold emailing. And instead of sending stranger emails, let’s send dead because acquaintance emails are more lukewarm than stranger emails. Gina said you wanna work for an educational company, but you can’t find any openings. I don’t have a list of education companies off the top of my head, but there are so many. And I think that what you should do, check out the job board on a website called built in, builtin.com.
Sarah Doody [00:16:10]: They have a job board that allows you to filter by industry or category, and I bet you there’s an education one, but there’s So many, like masterclass.com, udemy.com, Duolingo, like the language ones. Right? Chegg.com, c h e g g, I think that’s how you spell it. There are so many. So maybe Built In will help you on some of those. Becky wants to know, back to cover letters, what if you try to do research, can’t find a hiring manager? What if the only way it seems to apply is to use their website and ATS? So sometimes companies in even the website site, and the ATS will let you attach a cover letter. If that is an option, do that. What I would not do is where it says upload or add your PDF. I would not attach a PDF file that has a cover letter as page 1 and then your resume May because I think that could very much hinder the ability for the Applicant tracking system or recruiting software they use to, like, parse and read your resume if the first thing is a cover letter in that PDF file.
Sarah Doody [00:17:32]: So that’s what I would not do. Okay. Lorena wants So how important is it to have a portfolio at the start of your career? You’re gonna get different answers from different people. We’ve probably all seen Discussions on LinkedIn and elsewhere that say, like, portfolios should not be required, etcetera. Okay. Maybe in the future, they won’t be, but in the world we live in right now, portfolios seem, based on all the career coaching I’ve done and the many recruiters and hiring managers I’ve done research with is a part of the process. And even if you never end up showing your portfolio to someone, The very act of creating it is going to help you do a much better job in the interviews. So even if one day Portfolios are just not a party to the interview process.
Sarah Doody [00:18:25]: I would still advocate that people write case studies so they are much more prepared to talk about what the heck they did in interviews. I think portfolios, though, are Very much a part of the interview process for most companies. And if we were to go to 10 different job postings right now, I would guess at least 7 would say, like, you know, apply with your resume and portfolio or something like that. Yeah. Maybe in 10 years, We won’t be using them. I don’t know, but we’ll have to check back in 10 years and see. Oh, okay. Ashley said, what is your opinion on the experience years on job postings for UX centers.
Sarah Doody [00:19:08]: So on job descriptions, when it says you need to have x years of experience. Okay. I would say You don’t have to exactly match it. So if it says you had need 5 years of experience and you have 4, I would still apply. If If it says you need 2 years of experience and you have 1, or potentially if you’re searching for your 1st job, you might still be able to apply. Now if it says you need 15 years of experience and you have 3, that’s probably a stretch. So, again, common sense. We have to Kind of think for ourselves a little bit here.
Sarah Doody [00:19:43]: But if it says 2, let’s say, and you’re looking for your 1st job, I would say Apply anyway. Those are not always hard and fast requirements of The role. And I’ve definitely had conversations with multiple people who said that even though a Role they were hiring for said 3 years. Some of the people who applied with who were looking for their 1st job did Such a better job at their resume or portfolio or the interviews that they ended up getting hired even though people with 2, 3 years of experience applied. So don’t let that number on job descriptions, number of years experience keep you from applying to jobs, but, again, common sense. You’re not gonna get hired as a UX manager if you have 3 years of experience probably. Alright. Ashley, I hope that answered your question.
Sarah Doody [00:20:43]: Daniella is changing from marketing to UX. Awesome. How can you stand out since you are a junior person, but also have experience working with clients, etcetera. So If you’re switching to user experience or, you know, switching from one field to another, it doesn’t matter what, you really want to think about What have you done in your previous job or jobs that is very transferable skills that you can use on day 1 in your new job. And then you wanna make sure that your resume, folio that your LinkedIn profile, the work experience, even the about section of your LinkedIn profile are really shining a spotlight of that specific experience, and transferable skills from what you did before. So, Daniella, because you said you have been working in marketing, maybe even if you didn’t have a job title that had the words you s in it in your marketing job. It’s highly possible You did research. You did design.
Sarah Doody [00:21:55]: You did other UX related things that you could highlight. And even if you didn’t, You probably have experience with a lot of the soft skills, let’s say, like client management or dealing with difficult stakeholders, or project management of marketing projects and things. And those are the examples of things that you could really highlight as you start to assemble your career materials, your resume, portfolio, LinkedIn, etcetera, so you can start applying to jobs. So, Daniella, I hope that answers your question. Let’s go to Chris’s question, and this will be it. So Chris wants to know your 1st UX job with was with a company where you’re doing government contracts, and you can’t show that stuff or talk about them in too much detail for obvious security reasons. What does that look like when you’re trying to create a portfolio or work when looking for to apply to UX jobs or something. So I’m not an attorney, but I would say I think there are probably ways to Still consider how you can talk about what you’ve done in a very abstract way.
Sarah Doody [00:23:12]: If you worked on a research project, let’s say, like, can you figure out how to talk about these things you’ve worked on without mentioning the exact government department or the name of the, you know, software or tool or whatever it was. I think that concerning showing screens and not being able to show stuff, Sometimes, whether it’s government contracts or not, like, yes, you will deaf there will be times when you may not be able to show anything at all, like hard stop. Right? There are other times when maybe you can show it if you blur out certain information, redact stuff, etcetera. I don’t know. But I would think to yourself, is this a matter of I can absolutely never ever Ever show this to anyone ever in the history of time? Or if I make changes, redact, etcetera, crop even, could I show parts of it? Also consider, would I be allowed to show this if it was on my computer in an interview versus someone does not want you to put that on a website that is accessible to the entire world. So those are a couple of things to think about. But let’s say I worked on a top secret project for the Mayo Clinic, The big, you know, medical clinic. Let’s imagine that.
Sarah Doody [00:24:45]: Okay. But I’m not allowed to talk about anything. Okay. How would I describe the Mayo Clinic? A, you know, international or national, actually don’t even know, like medical facility or medical organization or something or a 500 or 5000 person medical organization. I don’t know. Right? If you said that, then at at least I’m providing the context so people get a sense of what it was without saying the Mayo Clinic. Right? I should’ve done research before this to come up with a a way to talk about the Mayo Clinic without saying Mayo Clinic, but you get the idea. Right? And then, you know, I could say, you know, I worked on I did research and experience design for a electronic medical records system, and I could talk about it that way.
Sarah Doody [00:25:34]: I think, hopefully, Chris, that gives you some ideas how you could abstract this a little bit. And then also think to yourself, is this a matter of I can’t show anything at all for any reason, or are there ways I could show it or situations where I could show it like an interview on my laptop but not on a website for everyone to see. Alright, everyone. That is all the time we have. I hope that you guys have some take ways that you have some actionable stuff you can do that hopefully it cleared up some questions or options you may have. Thanks for listening to the Career Strategy Podcast. Make sure to follow me, Sarah be on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or LinkedIn. If anything in today’s episode resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it.
Sarah Doody [00:26:31]: Tag me on social media or send me a DM. And lastly, if you found this episode helpful, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it with a friend or give us a quick rating on Spotify, or review on Apple Podcasts. Catch you later.