Julian Jensen
 

UX Job Hunt
Test, build, iterate

 
 
 
 
 

Just ship it
Iterating and testing my job materials

I tasked myself with a three-month project to land a job in UX design in San Francisco. I pushed myself be the most transparent job seeker by publishing all of my application materials and designs as case study. 

The most important project after graduating General Assembly's UX 13-Week Bootcamp was my job search. So I turned to the UX process to iterate and refine my job hunt materials as a two-week design sprint. I've decided to publish my entire process, feedback, and design changes, because I'm yet to find a designer who's done this before.

I'm also no stranger to taking risks with my job hunt, based on my past Do Not Hire Me project.

 
 
 

Let's recap
Personal research

I gathered learnings in two areas to generate insights that the strategy behind my job hunt.

The first prong was reviewing presentations, handouts, and other materials from the GA Bootcamp Immersive course to create a high-level understanding of UX Design, industry trends, and how to differentiate myself. The second part of the strategy was to utlize insights from my past experience job hunting experience during the Do Not Hire Me project. 

I used my course materials to create a 2-week design sprint schedule: mapping out the time required to create a portfolio and resume—and then test and iterate them on them multiple times. I used my personal experience to influence my design choices and how to execute this plan. I made sure my job hunt would reflect a brand message of my individuality, passion for design, and pragmatic point of view.

 

Personal Experience

- Aware of my own background
- Differentiate myself, in refined, mature ways
- Job Hunt Best Practices
- Got over my insecurities about contacting strangers
- Actually using social media
- Already had dozens of coffee meetings
- What types of companies I don't want to work at
- A job is just a job
- Be nice to everyone

Learned At Bootcamp

- Background on Tech industry
- How to job hunt in SF
- Personal brand creation
- UX best practices
- Strategy for emailing strangers
- LinkedIn boolean searches
- How to use social media
- Emphasis on coffee meetings
- What types of companies are out there
- Job hunt is serious, the job not so much
- Work hard at your job hunt

 
 
 
 

Meet the players
Competitive analysis

To get a deeper understanding of the other designers I would be competing against, I reviewed dozens of portfolios from GA alumni and successful executive-level designers.

I made note of what portfolios and resumes stood out and inspired me. I also asked my career coaches at GA to point me in the direction of successful portfolios that stood out in their minds and asked "why do you like this portfolio or resume?" Asking open-ended questions allowed me to learn more information about what working professionals would want to see reflected in the portfolio and resume of an entry-level candidate.

The most common pattern I found in this qualitative research was to make my portfolio 2/3 visual, and 1/3 copywriting. Regarding resumes, I found that successful designers applied a minimalistic approach to their designs. No strange layouts, just the right amount of information that told a story but didn't overwhelm the reader. With this new knowledge, I decided to interview recruiters and working designers for their input for my job hunt.

 
DNHM Sketch 1.jpg

Learning how to stand away from the crowd

 
 
 
 

Wisdom gathering
User Interviews with designers & recruiters

I set up meetings to gain advice on how to position myself as a career-changer from advertising to UX design.

To get a deeper understanding of what hiring managers would like to see in a UX ob candidate, I interviewed multiple recruiters and HR managers regarding their experience with hiring career-switchers, working with designers, and places were candidates mess up most frequently during their job hunt.

After interviewing a dozen individuals, I found three common insights:

  1. Referrals mean everything. Applying to jobs cold is not worth your time.
  2. Use your social network for those referrals. Ask everyone you know.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask recruiters or strangers for a 15-minute coffee meeting, because 1 in 10 of people will get back to you.

It became apparent that my portfolio would need to be the centerpiece on which my value proposition as a job candidate would be reflected. It had to accomplish the following goals:

  • Showcase my design process and work ethic
  • Embody my personality through visual design choices
  • Reflect my desire to get hired, without appearing desperate
  • Be the platform that takes users from being curious to a genuine need to get in touch with me
 

Learning how to stand away from the crowd

 
 
 
 

Shipping the MVP
Portfolio design 1.0

Subtitle

After a thorough breakdown of our new user flow, we created two iterations of a low-fidelity paper prototype. During our initial testing we received important feedback, including:

  • Users didn't expect to see welcome screen with a sign up button, so we removed it and focused on the initial on-boarding experience.
  • Users wanted to read more information about the services offered (ie. oil changes, tire rotations). So we added descriptions in our second iteration.
  • Users expected to see their order confirmation details before entering payment information. So we planned to add that functionality in the digital prototype.
 
static1.squarespace-9.png

Learning how to stand away from the crowd

 
 
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Part deux
Portfolio design 2.0

Subtitle

We designed a medium-fidelity digital prototype in Sketch & InVision. We then tested it with new users to inform specific design changes to our affordances, layout, and other design elements for our high-fidelity prototype. During our testing, we received the following feedback:

We tested our app with more users—refining very specific design elements along the way. In addition, we applied a flat design language to our user interface to standardize our affordances and layout. Once user testers felt comfortable with our new prototype, we paused our design process and prepared for our final client presentation.

 
static1.squarespace-9.png

Learning how to stand away from the crowd

 
 
 
 

Cleaning up
Portfolio design 3.0

Subtitle

We designed a medium-fidelity digital prototype in Sketch & InVision. We then tested it with new users to inform specific design changes to our affordances, layout, and other design elements for our high-fidelity prototype. During our testing, we received the following feedback:

We tested our app with more users—refining very specific design elements along the way. In addition, we applied a flat design language to our user interface to standardize our affordances and layout. Once user testers felt comfortable with our new prototype, we paused our design process and prepared for our final client presentation.

 

Learning how to stand away from the crowd

 
 
 
 

Final product
Portfolio design 4.0

Subtitle

We designed a medium-fidelity digital prototype in Sketch & InVision. We then tested it with new users to inform specific design changes to our affordances, layout, and other design elements for our high-fidelity prototype. During our testing, we received the following feedback:

We tested our app with more users—refining very specific design elements along the way. In addition, we applied a flat design language to our user interface to standardize our affordances and layout. Once user testers felt comfortable with our new prototype, we paused our design process and prepared for our final client presentation.

 

Learning how to stand away from the crowd

 
 
 
 

Form meets function
Resume design and iterations

Subtitle

We designed a medium-fidelity digital prototype in Sketch & InVision. We then tested it with new users to inform specific design changes to our affordances, layout, and other design elements for our high-fidelity prototype. During our testing, we received the following feedback:

We tested our app with more users—refining very specific design elements along the way. In addition, we applied a flat design language to our user interface to standardize our affordances and layout. Once user testers felt comfortable with our new prototype, we paused our design process and prepared for our final client presentation.

 

Learning how to stand away from the crowd

 
 
 

Looking back
Conclusion and takeaways

Subtitle

Devoting time to creating well-curated, well-designed, and clear portfolio should be the #1 priority for new UX designers. When I was talking with recruiters, professional designers, and new accountancies, it's paramount that you can refer them to a strong portfolio.

Clarity and length go hand in hand for portfolio case studies. Case studies need to be easy to read and full of detail, to showcase to readers how important and thorough I was with my work. The dedication to detail I put in my case studies is to the top compliment I recieve about my portfolio.

Get feedback early and often. The feedback I received was critical in breaking my assumptions about what recruiters and hiring managers wanted to see. My resume had nearly 10 iterations and is a powerful example of how tiny changes to a word document can make a big impact on getting hired.

Think like a Director of Design. Entering this job market requires poise, determination, and focus. Breathing, working to craft a strong portfolio, and working hard one day at a time will pay off. Designers, regardless of industry, never come into a project "guns blazing" — they take a breath first.

 

Team Bravepup