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What Do Recruiters Look For In A UX Designer Job Application

Or how to ensure you get an interview call

What can be better news than scores of UX Designer positions open in some of your favorite product companies?
Despite the looming slump in the world economy, the design job market is still quite hot and UX Designers are still relatively sought-after. A quick job search with the keyword, “UX Designer” on Linkedin for instance, yields decent results.

So, say you are out looking for a new stint and you shortlist a bunch of UX Designer roles you want to apply for. What do you do next?

Here’s what I think you would do as a first step – dash off your CV, resume, biodata – whatever you call it in your part of the world – via the email id shared in the job post and hope that someone will respond sooner or later. Well ok, you may be one of the few sought-after designers who may not be actively looking out but someone’s been checking out your Linkedin profile and sends you an Inmail with a note that says something to the effect of you being just the “perfect fit” for the role. Either way, your first task as a job seeker is to send over your resume.

The Resume

Now as a job-seeker, imagine that you are peeking over the wall to see what’s happening with your resume, this is what it typically looks like. At least, from my perspective. As the design hiring manager, I receive the CV through my talent acquisition team and I get assigned to review it. The review involves assessing whether your profile is a potentially good fit for the role and whether we should proceed to the next step which is usually a phone screening.
Here is what I am NOT looking for in a resume;

  1. An informercial – this is not exactly a sales pitch
  2. An infographic – I have seen too many smartly designed CVs with graphs, pie-charts and sliders describing what you are good at. I myself am guilty of doing that not very long ago.
  3. A “resumefolio” – a mashup of a resume and a portfolio. Separate the resume from the portfolio. Please.
  4. A pretty picture of your resume – Please don’t toss over your CV in the form of a PNG, JPEG, TIFF, GIF etc. I won’t look at it. I’ll probably just stare at it. And wonder what to do with it.

Here’s what I DO look for in your resume;

  1. Information is presented clearly and concisely.
  2. It is legible and simple.
  3. It is printable, machine-readable and projectable on a large screen. So give me a PDF, a Word doc, even a text file works.

Sure, go ahead and infuse some personality into your CV by using your favorite font or whatever but don’t overdo the bling. Being creative in writing your resume, of course, has its place in so-called creative industries, like if you were a copywriter or a performance artist and so on. By the way, a well written up-to-date Linkedin profile works as well. After all, the structure is standard and familiar;

  1. Contact information, your address, phone number, email ID.
  2. A chronology of relevant education & experience – Design roles you have held so far
  3. Links to professional network profiles like Linkedin, your blog, if you have one.

And included along with the other links, the all-important link to your online portfolio.

The Online Design Portfolio of Past Work

You might think – ‘I have sent across my resume. Once I get a call for an interview, I’ll quickly pull together some work and send it across over email just in time for the interview’. Well, looking at a designer’s resume without simultaneously going over the portfolio is like serving a recipe for Pasta Arrabbiata for lunch instead of the actual dish. A portfolio is essentially a narrative of the kind of problems you have solved so far through design. It gives me a peek into the design solutions you developed to address those problems. It also tells me how well you have crafted those solutions. A well-structured portfolio is not very different from a collection of short stories about your projects that states the problem/opportunity, describes the solution, how you got to the solution and the outcome. Although at this point, I just need a quick look at your portfolio. I am looking for WHAT you have done. The WHY and HOW will come later. The WHAT helps me decide whether to move forward to the next step based on what I see in your portfolio as I skim through it.

So yes, I need to see your portfolio along with your resume.

The number of resumes I go through without a portfolio link is just mind-boggling. Hello! You are a designer. Show-n-tell and narratives are part of who you are and your work. Not having an online portfolio updated at all times is just not cool – especially when you are job-hunting. It can be a custom portfolio site with your own domain, a shared platform like Behance or a blogging platform like WordPress. No, work samples in a PDF over email doesn’t cut it. Honestly, it’s too much work for me. Add a portfolio link to your resume and be done with it, already. Wait. Make sure when I land on the portfolio site, things are as up to date as possible. I’ll understand that you can’t include your most recent work because it’s in progress or subject to confidentiality clauses – in which case, you should reserve those projects for if and when you get an opportunity to present your work in a face to face (F2F) interview.

Look at it this way. Being prepared is half the battle won. It’s easier to put together an online portfolio than to keep editing a PDF whenever you have new projects to add. It’s like digging a well when you feel thirsty – I know, that one’s done to death. An online portfolio saves you time and effort. More importantly, it saves me time! It makes it easier for me to be interested in getting you over for a F2F!

Come on, do me a favor and add that all-important portfolio link in your resume! Thank. You. Very. Much. ­čÖé

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