#25 – Notes for job seekers in UI design

By Scott Berkun, April 2003

Looking for jobs is tough. I remember when I looked for my first industry job ten years ago, how frustrating it was. I had everything to prove, and every desire to prove it, but few opportunities. And worse, by the time I graduated in May of ’94, my friends were gone: they moved away with new jobs. Many had jobs lined up before the spring semester even started. Meanwhile I struggled to find good interviews, and maintain the work needed to graduate on time. I think most people, especially students, underestimate how much energy job searching requires, and there really isn’t much honest guidance on how to be smart about it.

This essay is an attempt to offer some good advice – the kind I wish I had back in ’94. If you find it useful, pass it on to other job seekers you know. If you have other suggestions to add, please leave a comment.

How do you know if you’re any good?

This may seem like a strange question. So much of college level education is focused on requirements, grades and exams, that the essence of what makes a good designer or developer gets left behind somewhere. What feedback do you have, other than your grades, on how good you currently are at what it is you want to get paid to do? Think about it. Where does your confidence regarding what you want to do with you life come from? How do you think your skills at getting good grades apply to getting professional level work done in the field?

It might seem a little late, now that you’re looking for a job, but better late than never. Instead of worrying about grades and graduating requirements, spend some time seeking out expert opinions on the quality of your work. If you’re a developer, show a pro some of your code. If you’re a designer, show your portfolio, or your website. Don’t be shy. Invest time, every day, or every week, to get feedback from the right people. It can be informal, just asking for a few minutes of someone’s time, to take a look at something you did. You may get turned down 3 out of 4 times, but for that one person who says yes, it’s gold. It’s an opportunity to hear how a professional, someone similar to those you’ll be working for or with in the future,views your work. You get a chance to consider your work in a different way, and see things you might have overlooked.

If the feedback is critical or less positive than you might like, so be it: you now have an opportunity to learn, and how you respond is up to you. Ideally you want to hear the feedback early and often, before you’re in a job interview situation (or even before your senior year), because the truth is, you will rarely get useful feedback from someone with a job opening (note: If you’re ever in an interview that isn’t going well, you can salvage your time by asking for direct feedback from the interviewer on how you’re doing. You might learn something for next time). And even if you did get useful feedback from a potential employer: what a waste of time. You’ve just blown a potential good job, because they told you something important about your work that you could have learned on your own beforehand.

Ideal is to find a mentor. Good candidates for mentors are former students you know that are currently in the industry you want to work in (Another note: It’s handy to make friends with people older than you while in school, in part, for this reason). If you don’t know anyone, ask your professors or advisors. They may know of someone willing to do this for you. In some cases, very good feedback can come from professors themselves, but be careful here. They may or may not have the perspective and sensibilities (or lack of sensibilities) that someone in industry is likely to have. If you find folks that give useful feedback, remember them when you do land a job. Send them some kind of thank you, and reinforce for them that their time with you was well spent, and appreciated.

Regardless of how you do it, develop an understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are, within your field of interest. Learn the language the pro’s use for defining these strengths, and get comfortable with it. This will serve you well in two specific ways: 1) You’ll be more articulate and confident when talking to potential employers 2) You’ll have a better sense of the kinds of jobs or companies that you’ll be a better fit for. I think it’s a great idea for professors to set up some form of mentoring exposure between students and professionals, preferably before the senior year. Even to give a student 10 or 15 minutes to show a professional their portfolio, or some sample of the work they’ve done, can give a guide of guidance and feedback that’s a huge head start in thinking about employment.

The different jobs for the UI or CS minded

When you’re looking for work, unless you have an”invent your own job” card in your back pocket, you have to figure out where you fit into the field. Sometimes available jobs in industry map well to the degree program, or previous work experience you’ve had, and sometimes it doesn’t. The names of jobs, and the details of what they involve, may change significantly from corporation to corporation, but once you understand how one company does it, you can usually translate easily to another.

In most corporations there are several different job functions that CS (computer science), design and usability related jobs are divided into. Here’s the general rule of thumb:

Software developer: Someone that writes code. Need I say more? Ok. There are so many flavors of this that it’s difficult to list them all. Most of the time, developers are expected to own certain areas of a product or website, creating new code and maintaining old code, to meet requirements. This could mean working on Quake IV, or it could mean working on an accounting program. The more specialized the job, the more requirements applicants often need to get it (e.g. Quake IV would require significant programming experience in 3d rendering environments, before the folks on that team would hire you. The accounting team might require that you know relational databases, or SQL. You get the point.).

Tester / QA: A person responsible for assessing, maintaining and verifying the quality of production code for a product or website. This role can vary from being very tactical, focused on building components and automating test passes, to someone that is running sophisticated analysis tools, and overseeing project plans and architectures. Most of the time, it’s more tactical, where a tester is partnered with a developer or team of developers, to help them manage quality. This role tends to be good for people that like to break things, or are good at breaking things in a systematic way.

Usability engineer: Someone that drives the research and analysis aspects of UI design. They run lab studies, site visits, and other forms of usability methods. They may contribute to the design, or help shape the process the team goes through for generating and refining ideas, but their primary obligations are often more analytical than creative. They are (or should be anyway) involved early to guide requirements, checkpoint along the way, and verify if necessary at the end. However in some organizations, usability is seen as the verifier of usability quality, instead of contributing to generating the designs, in which case usability studies are done late in the process. From company to company, and org to org, the philosophy around usability varies significantly. YMMV.

Interaction/UI/Product Designer: Someone that drives the creative aspects of the functional and user interface design for a project. They typically take some set of requirements, generate ideas, wireframes, and prototypes, and then work with a development team to build it. This can be a leadership role, where the designer is driving the earlier phases of a project, or it can be a passive role, where the designer follows the lead of the engineers, marketers or project managers. Some organizations manage to find a good balance, some don’t. Easiest way to tell is to look at their products and judge the results for yourself, or even better, if you have the opportunity, ask someone from that team to explain to you how a specific design decision was made.

Visual/Graphic Designer: This role is focused on aesthetics and visual design for a website or a software product. Sometimes this is seen as a core, central contribution, sometimes not (See usability engineer above). In some cases, the visual designer might be focused on branding, corporate presence, or other thematic design work. In other cases, a visual designer works on actual products, and provides all of the design work needed to produce the product (icons, themes, backgrounds, etc.).

Information Architect : This is a more recent job definition. As best I can generalize it, this is an interaction designer, who’s focus is on organizing information, but who may employ skills and tactics from usability engineers, designers or project managers. This title is use most often for web type jobs. In other situations this job title means the application of library science skills for classification of information, including hierarchies, taxonomies and effective use of metadata.

Project managers: Some organizations give functional design (what features should the product have? how will they work/behave? etc.) responsibilities to project managers. If no designer or usability engineer is on staff, the project manager often gets the responsibility for any design thinking they can find time for. In some organizations, project managers are hired with some background in usability or design, so that they can manage this extra aspect of the job relatively well (Microsoft sometimes hires people with UI experience for their “program manager” role). In the best cases, the project manager is partnered with someone with deep expertise in design, and the time bandwidth to focus on that contribution, freeing the project manager to actually manage the project.

UI Developers: Many organizations delegate the design responsibility for user interfaces or websites to the engineers that implement them. Since from a purely functional perspective, these are actually the folks that build the stuff, there is a certain logic to this responsibility. It is a known fact the Macintosh user interface was conceived and built almost entirely without usability engineers or trained interface designers (Same for many other software products, games, or websites). However, in most mature software development organizations, the engineer role is specialized to the point where it’s unlikely to find engineers with significant proficiency or agility to both design and implement great user interfaces. They exist, but they’re rare. (If you happen to work with one, be nice to them. If you happen to be one, ask for more money).

Now while these jobs are somewhat standard across the industry, this doesn’t necessarily suggest that this delineation of work leads to the best or most usable software or websites. For whatever reason, this just seems to be the common way to break up the work. I suspect the origins of these roles are based on both the ability to find people to play them (e.g. visual designers) and the biases and structures of most organizations and the ease of fitting people in these roles into existing organizations.

A good general rule: the smaller the organization, the fuzzier the roles tend to be. At Microsoft, a company of ~50,000 people (circa 2003), the roles on most established product teams are well defined. But even at such a large company, there are many smaller organizations and teams within the company where the roles overlap more, or have fuzzy distinctions. It often makes more sense to pay attention to the size of the product or the team the job will be part of, than the company or larger organization. (The best question to ask is often: How many other people of this job type will be working on this project, or this team?)

So when you see a job description that combines everything listed above (the kitchen sink UI job, for example), it means one of two things:

  1. the person that wrote the job description is looking for a superhero
  2. the person that wrote the job description doesn’t know what they’re talking about
  3. The organization or team is small enough that they’re looking for someone that’s very agile, and has a wide variety of skills.

In #3, even if they list everything as a requirement, it probably really isn’t. That’s a good rule of thumb: Generally speaking, hiring managers will hire the best candidates they can, even if that means only some of the requirements are met. In a tight job market, hiring managers are apt to set a very high bar, since they know odds are better that they’ll find someone close to it.

Resumes, resumes, resumes…

Have you looked at many resumes? Play with google or another search engine, and take a look around. Read several of them. I think you’ll find most of them suck. They either feel very artificial and inflated, use obscure or odd language, and either are trying way too hard, or not hard enough. I don’t think any document puts more people through more agony than resumes, since for both the people that write them and those that read them, it’s an entirely miserable process.

From the point of view of hiring managers (the people trying to hire someone) resumes serve one purpose: Is this person a candidate for what I need? That’s it. That’s all that’s going on. Depending on the job and the role they may think they need different things, but they’re looking for candidates, not for someone to instantly hire. Therefore, a resume that clearly and directly states what it’s about is more useful than one that wanders, covers lots of obscure unrelated things, or tries to be something that it’s not. In reality, either the person has studied the right things and worked on relevant projects, or they haven’t, and nothing in crafting the resume is going to change that.

My advice then is to be straightforward about what you’ve done. Describe things intelligently, but without obscuring them; If you obscure what you’re doing to make it sound more important, guess what? The person reading your resume has, at one time or another, written their own resumes. They know the tricks. The exaggerations. And the first thing a smart interviewer will do when they see this kind of thing in a resume will be to ask you, to describe in human language, what you were doing. Any deception or inflation ends, right there, along with you candidacy for the position.

The most common mistake I see, especially in student resumes, is forcing of buzzwords and ambiguous technical language for what should be simple, straightforward activities. In most cases, if the employer don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, it’s unlikely they’ll want to hire you. “Object oriented knowledge management research processes” is not a good way to describe putting printed reports into file cabinets.  “Agenda based negotiation of scheduling components for usability methodologies” is not really an accurate description of finding subjects to run a study.

Instead, focus on clear and honest descriptions of projects you’ve done. If you’re graduating from a design or HCI program, you should have at least one senior level project to talk about. Emphasize it. It gives you a basis for talking about actual work you did that is relevant towards what you want to do (which may or may not be true for courses you’ve taken and exams you’ve passed).

There are no tricks to the visual design either. Just because you are a designer, or design-minded, don’t get carried away. The resume’s primary purpose is to convey your experience, not to be an experience in itself. If you’re a visual designer, prominently place a link to your online portfolio. As I say elsewhere in this essay, any intelligent person trying to hire a designer will look primarily at portfolios. It doesn’t take long to do, and it’s more valuable than the resume itself.

Good examples of skills: It starts with the degree. For usability-ish jobs, ideal is an HCI program, or a technical degree with a concentration in HCI or usability engineering. Someone who knows several usability methods, has used them on some real user interface, and has some level of knowledge around simple experimental study design. For more design focused roles, it’s a design degree from a strong program (Art Center, RCA, CMU, etc.) I’d look for coursework that’s project focused, preferably with real clients or with collaborative teams of students. For programming or software development jobs, it’s a CS degree from a good school, with strong project work on specific technologies.

Projects, Internships and Talking vs. Doing

After the degree, it’s about projects. The pedigree of who or where the project was with is less important than what the applicant did. Ideal is a senior project where the student the work themselves (or with other students) and played all of the roles they are likely to play in the job. They planned the project, identified user needs, came up with ideas, developed prototypes, ran usability studies, and then refined the designs. That sequence of actions is largely what careers in design and usability are all about. If a student has done it a few times before they graduate, produced good work, and is thrilled to go through that process again, they’re high on the candidate list.

Any project work put on a resume should be made available somewhere. For design students, it’s the portfolio, but for an HCI graduate, it’s smart to put the usability study plan and report they put together up somewhere. Don’t be afraid. If you put it on your resume I’m going to ask about it anyway. If you’re good, cut to the chase and show me. If you’re not so good, well, the smart person interviewing you is going to find out before you’re hired anyway. (I suppose, if you’re being interviewed by a stupid person, which happens, they might not figure it out. But then you have to ask the question: do you really want to go work for someone you think is stupid? It’s better to ask yourself what you need to do to make your work better. See Mentors, above).

Internships are always a plus, assuming real work was done in them. Ideal again is an internship on a professional website or software product, where the student has identified a specific part of it that they worked on. Then I can go and take a look, and set myself up with some direct questions to ask. Again, I’m looking to cut to the chase. What did the student do, how good is it, and can they talk/dialog with me about design and usability on a specific thing.

Talking about design and usability in the abstract is easy. There is nothing more common for people to do than criticize an existing design, and point out the principles it breaks, or situations in which it fails. But this is a long way away from actually offering a viable alternative to the design in question. After about ten years doing this stuff, I’ve finally learned that you can generally silence people’s gripes about user interfaces by simply asking them to be specific about what they would change. As soon as you get into the details, and understand the constraints and conflicting tradeoffs, most people get very quiet very quickly. (You can see this in many essays or books on UI design and ease of use, that call out objects or websites as bad examples, but never offer realistic solutions that work within the constraints the design must satisfy. I’ve never seen a book that offered a suggestion, and reported on what happened when they brought the suggestion to the designer in question).

I mention this because this is where knowledge of design differs from the ability to do design. There are many professors, professionals, and students that have great knowledge about ui design, but have very limited skills in actually designing user interfaces (same follows for computer science, or other disciplines). As a result, much of any good interview process involves designing things. Or writing code. Or something real, and tangible and specific. It’s great to know all the principles, but how do you apply them to a real problem, in the real world, in real time? That’s what’s going to make you successful or not, and that’s what a good interviewer is going to try to get at when they talk to you.

On GPAs

I graduated with a 2.67 GPA from CMU. I worked amazingly hard to get this particular number, harder than I’ve ever had to work since, but I did not list this number on my resume. I didn’t think it would help me. I was probably right.

However, I don’t think GPAs are as valuable as most students and professors like to pretend. I think the primary value of the GPA is to indicate a person’s ability to dedicate themselves to a certain set of work. A 4.0 or 3.8 means dedication. It doesn’t say anything, either way, about creative thinking, about passion, or any of the other things that make for good employees. It does say that they were able to perform well in a certain framework (the framework of the degree program they are in), but I don’t know how much it says about their ability to achieve in other frameworks, where the rules are more ambiguous (e.g. any working environment). I suppose if an employer thinks the work environment has similarities to the school environment, the number may mean more to them than someone that doesn’t.

But perhaps I’m just down on GPAs, because I didn’t graduate on the dean’s list :) Anyway, as honest as I can be about this, I’d say most folks I know in the industry don’t pay a ton of attention to the GPA number. It’s one criteria, among many others. Its omission on a resume is not a big deal.

Portfolios

In the old days, you could spot a recent design graduate by the large portfolio briefcase they’d carry around with them. Inside they’d have pictures of the print and other design work they’ve done, usually bound in a big fancy binder. These days, portfolios are often found online, and IMO, this is a huge boon for prospective design hires and employers looking to hire. Unlike resumes, which simply describe and categorize work, portfolios allow both parties to discuss actual work materials. A job seeker that doesn’t take advantage of this opportunity is putting themselves at a big disadvantage.

Portfolios are more relevant for design students. Some schools give some guidance here, but from what I’ve been told it’s often not much. My experience is this: if the resume includes a link to an online portfolio, I almost always look at it first. It says so much more than any resume does. Good portfolios are easy to flip through, show contrasting kinds of work (several examples of real UI for websites or software products, fancier style pieces, and perhaps something interactive/media based). Most design I know of in the industry jobs relatively somewhat pedestrian relative to the student portfolios I’ve seen.

Whenever I see a resume, I always check for a personal website or a link to their portfolio. If it exists, I almost always check it out, even if the resume itself is unimpressive. How can I, as a hiring manager, resist the temptation to see someone actual work? Resumes are a gamble. You never know who’s writing them, or what they were trying to cover up or over-emphasize. But the actual work speaks for itself. I can evaluate that with much greater confidence. I can tell how much energy they put into it, what they were trying to achieve in the design (is it just a blog? A quick and dirty personal website? Or something more elaborate? Did they write the code themselves? etc.). In about 35 seconds, I can learn more than the resume will ever tell me.

As far as actual portfolios, my strongest recommendation is to keep it simple. Pop-ups and complex navigation systems are always un-necessary. Despite the fact that many design firm’s have websites that do this, it’s still overdesigning. Portfolio’s are meant to be skimmed. Make it easy for me to see different screenshots, to skim through example usability reports, or whatever it is that you think represents what you’ve done and what you can do. I may want depth if I’m intrigued, but I’d probably rather just scroll down to see it, rather than deal with some clever but obscure navigation system.

Avoid including things for completeness. I once found a portfolio website, where 2 of the 5 things shown include comments about how these were the first projects they did, and that the designer thought they were awful. Ok. Then why include them? It’s great if you want to be complete, or to show vary levels of work quality (sketches, wireframes, final screenshots, etc.) but don’t deride your own work in the context of a portfolio: if it’s not good, take it out. The only exception to this is if it’s the only work you have. But if you have 10 or 12 things to show, pull the 3 or 5 that you’re not so proud of.

For computer science students, I wonder why there aren’t more code samples hanging around on peoples web resumes. A writer is asked for writing samples, a designer for design samples, but somehow we haven’t gotten around to this for CS students. I think if I were a graduating CS student, and I felt confident about my abilities, I’d proactively offer to potential interviewers to show them some of my code. Even if they chose not to see it, I think I’d score points for my confidence and willingness to be honest about my skills.

How to find the jobs

There are 4 basic choices for someone interested in user interface design or usability engineering type work:

  1. Corporation
  2. Design/Usability firm
  3. Entrepreneur
  4. Non-profit / Academic Institution

Most major corporations recruit for open positions. They tend to recruit at what they feel are the best colleges for the discipline they’re hiring for. Most major tech companies actively recruit at MIT, Cal-tech, Stanford, CMU, RPI, etc. For design and usability top schools often include Art-Center, Georgia-tech, CMU, etc. So if you’re lucky, and at the right school, companies probably come out twice a year looking for you. Your career center is the place to go to find out about how to get on their lists.

Design firms generally have a section of their website for job postings. Sometimes these things are kept updated, other times there is just a contact name. Either way, you have a direct pipeline into someone’s inbox, regarding jobs. Smart firms will respond to your request, if it’s good, regardless of whether they have current positions or not. They’ll at least want to keep you on file, for when (optimistically speaking) job positions open. Worst case, if you do get a response that isn’t positive, or that claims there are no jobs, ask if someone can give feedback on your resume, or more importantly, on your work. Worst case, they’ll say no. Best case, you’ll get some professional feedback on what you’ve shown them.

Generally speaking, jobs get posted to a few different places:

CHI-jobs: A public mailing lists that is job announcements only. The positions tend be more usability focused than design, since CHI is a somewhat more researchy/academic crowd. Join the list and see what goes by.

AIGA-Design jobs : The American institute for Graphic arts has a nice search engine for their job listings. You can choose from various forms of design, from interaction to interior. When I played around with it as of this writing, it showed quite a few hits for everything I tried. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm?contentalias=jobsearch

It’s worth becoming familiar with the major corporations or firms that might be of interest to you. If you don’t see many opportunities listed, be proactive. Send a short well formed email to the job contact information from the websites of companies that interest you, following any instructions they provide. If you have your resume on the web (which you should) include a link to it. You might only get back a form letter response, but often you’ll get a human response, telling you about available positions or the lack their of.

Outside of listings and contacts through websites, what remains are your personal network, and your ability to extend it. If you are still in school, talk to all of your professors. Ask them for recommendations or contacts at potential employers. Talk to your peers. If you know of friend that knows your work, who recently got a job, ask him if they’re hiring more folks. More importantly, if you graduate before you find a job, keep in contact with all of your friends that had better luck – could very well pay off for you later.

Where and how to apply

Don’t waste your time blindly sending out emails and resumes. Nothing is more futile than sending things to people you don’t know, about jobs you don’t understand the details about, all in the hopes that somehow, someone will read your email and invest the energy required to see if you fit what they need. It’s just a waste or time for everyone. You’re placing the burden of work on them, instead of on yourself. Generally speaking, you need the job more than the company needs you, and you should be acting accordingly.

As a job seeker, you might feel better that you’ve sent out 50 resumes today, but in reality you’ve sent out 50 items with very low odds of response. A more sensible alternative is to take the same amount of time, and invest it in researching 5 or 6 companies, their jobs, roles, and processes, and writing well crafted emails or cover letters directed at those specific jobs. The odds of any of those 5 or 6 applications being accepted still isn’t great, but it’s much higher than the 50 blind submissions. And worst case, you’ll learn specific things about specific companies and how they are structured, which will help give you more context and experience for thinking about the next 5 or 6 companies you research.

Most corporations today have websites that list information about who and how they hire people. In many cases, specific jobs, with descriptions and unique job identification numbers are posted. This is done for the mutual benefit of job seekers and hiring managers, to accelerate the process. Read this stuff. That’s why it’s there. If I have a job opening, and this info is posted on my website, I shouldn’t have to answer basic questions about the job to an applicant that is contacting me. They should have done the leg work so I don’t have to. That’s an arrogant point of view, but if I have the job opening, and it’s a sellers (hiring managers) market, it’s to be expected from any employer.

Keep working even if you don’t have a job

I think the same skill development takes place through project work, regardless of weather you’re paid for it or not. Resumes do not say how much you were paid, or if you were paid at all. I think it makes total sense for a developer, designer or usability engineer to keep working on projects while they’re looking for work, even if you can’t find someone to hire you. There is no law against doing usability evaluations or even redesigns of existing products and websites. If you pick a project a week, or a month, to critique, redesign or perform usability research on, you’ll grow your portfolio and confidence, and increase the odds of landing each job you apply for. I think in some cases, for some hiring managers, nothing will impress them more than a candidate who is well versed in their product, and who has prepared an analysis and design recommendations for them.

How you were trained vs. what you will do

One shortcoming of almost all degree programs is that the way you are trained to do design, CS, or HCI work, is very different from how the work is actually done in industry. Some basic skills and approaches might apply, but for the most part, if you’re a graduating student, you’ll find your first 6 months on the job forces you to approach your work in an entirely different way.

The most significant difference is working on project teams. In most companies, most of the time, you will be the primary designer or usability engineer on the project. This means most of your time will be spent with people who don’t know what you know. You’ll be required to collaborate, communicate and negotiate with others about how work should be done, who should drive it, and when it should be completed. This can be a shock to a design student who’s spent most of their time at the drafting table, or at Photoshop, making things pixel perfect, and then handing them in before waiting for their grade.

The other major difference regards prioritization. Time pressure is certainly a common constraint in school, but in the professional word, there are often competing priorities for your time, many of which are outside of your control (These things impact not just you, but the entire project team). It’s up to you to decide how much time to invest in which area, and what level of rigor or method to apply to match the quality level needed. Not everything deserves the same attention to detail. Not everything deserves the same personal or emotional investment. Often collaborating with other smart people requires sharing a sense of priorities for the greater good of the project.

The reality of the profession: Feedback and how to deal with it

I’ve seen many new hires come to Microsoft as engineers, project managers, testers, product designers and usability engineers. By far the most common shortcoming I’ve seen is the difficulty some folks have in taking feedback on their work. I’ve seen many brilliant programmers and designers rendered relatively useless and ineffective because of their inability to request and then accept valid commentary and feedback on their work. With some people, even if the environment is supportive and constructive, their responses are destructively defensive and isolationist. That can be a death knell in a team based culture. No one will want to work with you. No one will work with you. And you will become frustrated and unhappy and probably look for work elsewhere. This is bad for everyone, and it’s sad when it happens.

I think the right mentality regarding work is throwing a party with friends. People are generous with ideas, are willing to do work, are open to feedback, ego’s are small, and things flow and move until good ideas surface, and then work is delegated in a fair way, and something good is created. Good teams feel like this, or close to it. If you can manage to behave this way in the context of your craft, you’ll tend to do well. If you can’t make this kind of leap (or can’t remember the last time you threw a party where you weren’t the party dictator), you might want to rethink which jobs and work environments are really suited to you. Some companies are smart enough to include collaborative problems in their interview process, to see how candidates manage those kinds of situations.

The most successful designers in any field (automotive, web, software, consumer electronics, whatever.) will tell you that their success comes in large part from their ability to build partnerships with the people they work with: particularly people who do not share their background.

Staying Positive

Job Searching takes time. Many of the things that need to happen to land a job are out of your control. This means that you might be doing everything right, and still not have any offers. Plan for this. Make sure you invest time in learning new skills, staying sharp with your old ones, and getting more experience regardless of whether you’re paid or not. The world needs better designs for just about everything, so the long term future for you is bright – hang in there.

References

To Grad or not to grad: advice on going to graduate school.

10 Responses to “#25 – Notes for job seekers in UI design”

  1. Eric

    This article is a goldmine.
    thank you for the insight and clear view on what the reality can be.

    I’ll be sure to thank you once I land my next project. Your mindset has definitely influenced mine. Positively :)

    Reply
    1. Elaine Ras

      Your insight was enlightening and appreciated. Keep up getting us designers informed!

      Reply
  2. Sudhith

    Thanks for this article Scott.
    Instapapered it for reference!

    Reply
  3. Ela

    Thank you very much for this wonderful article.I just discovered your website,I am very excited to read and learn more:)

    Reply
  4. RAM

    Hi Sir,
    Thanks to post such good information about UI designer. I am good with HTML/CSS and Photoshop. Can i illegible to work with MNC?

    Reply
  5. XIZHU

    Thank you for sharing all the precious experiences. It’s really helpful.

    Reply
  6. Luke Yancey

    I agree with you- in a lot of ways, what is learned in college doesn’t necessarily show how great you will be in the field of UI design. I am in medical school and have noticed a few students drop out during practicals. I would argue that having good grades doesn’t ever necessarily mean you will be good when it comes to applying what you studied to real life situations.

    Reply

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