Improve your chance of a job in UX

By Peter Ballard @Ballyfool

thomasdavies: @Foolproof_UX What do you suggest students do to improve their chances at getting UX jobs?!

This question was posed to us on Twitter by Thomas Davies and we thought it was worthy of a longer reply. These are our top tips for improving your chances of getting a UX job.

- A formal education will only get you so far. Make sure you keep a portfolio of work you have carried out, in addition to work from your chosen course. It could be worth your while running a project for free, perhaps for a not-for-profit organisation, or freelancing. Several members of our team ran their own sites or online businesses before joining us.

- It may sound obvious but your C.V. needs to be good enough to stand out from the crowd. And one of our pet hates is when they haven’t been checked carefully enough and are riddled with errors. When we’re looking to recruit new consultants we look for proof of insightful analytical skills, creative methodologies, and appropriate implementation.

- Use social networking and blogging to gain greater exposure. Do a bit of research to find companies you are interested in working for and if they’re on Twitter follow them, maybe they’ll follow you back. You will also need to demonstrate to potential employers that you are passionate about UX and what better way of gathering that evidence than by starting a blog.

- Have an obsessive interest in people and technology and making them work effectively together. You have to understand both sides of the equation. Getting your hands dirty in interface design and then exposing them to Joe Public is a good way to learn and makes for an attractive recruit.

- University College London runs a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction. It’s a great way to learn and practice user-centred design. Also, participate in UXPA events and the career events they run each year.

- Try and organise a week of work experience – offer yourself for free. That way you get to check out the company (far better than just a 1 hour interview), the company has nothing to lose (it won’t cost them anything) so are more likely to take you on.

- Demonstrate knowledge. There’s a host of really good bloggers out there writing about the ins and outs of UX. Sign up to some blogs and get reading. Here’s a reading list to get you started (uxbooth.com, whitneyhess.com/blog, johnnyholland.org) If you do get an interview make sure you’ve researched the company you are applying to. Visit their website, find out about what they do, what they have done and, if they have a careers section, what they expect from applicants.

- Think about things from a business point of view. Why do companies invest time and energy in user experience? How does it make them more profitable and famous? It’s always good to have some examples of companies who are using user experience as a way of getting competitive advantage and standing out in their marketplace.

Peter Ballard

I co-founded Foolproof with Tom Wood back in 2002. Today I work across a range of clients, particularly in the roles of Experience Planner and Client Partner. In my role as Experience Planner, I ensure that our design teams have access to the right insight to respond appropriately to the business and creative challenges faced by our clients.

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