Elliot Rylands

Staff Product Designer

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Getting Your Foot Through the Door in a Saturated Market

Jul 8, 2024

Introduction

In today's job market, the demand for UX/UI/Product designers has skyrocketed, making it one of the most sought-after roles. As appealing as this career path may be, the market is saturated with talented individuals vying for the same positions. Having been part of the hiring process for many designers, I can assure you that standing out in the crowd can be simpler than you think. This guide will walk you through detailed steps to help you stand out, land interviews, and shine during job interviews.

Building an Outstanding Portfolio

1. Display Your Identity in the Opening Viewport

Your portfolio is your first impression, and it should immediately communicate what kind of designer you are. Ensure that the opening viewport of your portfolio clearly showcases your design philosophy, areas of expertise, and a snapshot of your best work. Use this space to highlight your unique selling points and what sets you apart from other designers. Make it visually engaging, easy to navigate, and reflective of your personal brand.

2. Honesty and Creativity in Case Studies

If you lack real-world case studies, don't fake it. Honesty goes a long way. Create new projects that showcase your thought process and problem-solving abilities. Consider developing case studies that demonstrate thought leadership and a solid technical understanding of the development process. Show how you can work effectively with developers by incorporating technical considerations into your design solutions.

Networking and Seeking Feedback

3. Connect with Industry Professionals

Reaching out to designers already working in the industry can provide invaluable insights. Seek feedback on your portfolio, ask about their career paths, and request tips on landing a role. Networking can open doors to opportunities that might not be advertised publicly and help you gain a deeper understanding of what companies are looking for.

Showcasing Your Personality

4. Let Your Personality Shine

Cultural fit is crucial, especially for your first junior role. If you have a sense of humour, show it. If you're passionate about specific hobbies or interests, incorporate them into your portfolio. A company is not just hiring a set of skills; they're hiring a person who will contribute to their team dynamics. Demonstrating your personality can make you more memorable and relatable to potential employers.

Blending Design with Business Acumen

5. Translate Design into Business Outcomes

Showcasing your ability to link design decisions to business outcomes can set you apart. Highlight how your designs can drive user retention, sales, engagement, and other key metrics. Discuss case studies or hypothetical projects where your design choices directly impacted business goals. This demonstrates that you understand the broader implications of your work beyond aesthetics.

Demonstrating Design Frameworks and User Empathy

6. Showcase an End-to-End Design Framework

Employers appreciate designers who can see a project through from start to finish. Demonstrate your understanding of an effective design framework, from the initial brief and discovery phase to design and handoff. Use examples from your portfolio to illustrate your process, ensuring you highlight your ability to collaborate with cross-functional teams and manage a project lifecycle.

7. Prioritise User Empathy

Empathy for the end user should be at the forefront of your design process. Showcase how you put the user first, whether through persona creation, user testing with family members, or other methods. Highlighting your commitment to understanding and addressing user needs will resonate with employers looking for user-centric designers.

Practical Application and Technical Curiosity

8. Record and Share Real-World Interactions

If you lack extensive case studies, recording videos of your prototypes in use can be very effective. Showcasing how real people interact with your designs provides tangible proof of your design's usability and effectiveness. This curiosity about user engagement is crucial for any designer.

9. Discuss Inspirational Resources

Talking about books, websites, and designers that inspire you shows your passion for the field. Mention resources like "Sprint" by Jake Knapp and others that have influenced your approach. This not only demonstrates your dedication to continuous learning but also aligns you with the broader design community.

10. Understand Front-End Development

While you don't need to be a coding expert, having a basic understanding of front-end development and general engineering concepts can be a significant advantage. Show that you're eager to learn about development processes, terminology, APIs, and other functionalities. This willingness to bridge the gap between design and development will make you a more versatile and valuable team member.

Preparing for Interviews

11. Come Prepared with Questions

An interview is a two-way street. Prepare thoughtful questions about the business, team structures, sector, and company ambitions. Having a small personal mission statement about how you plan to impact the business as a junior designer can leave a strong impression. This shows that you're proactive and genuinely interested in contributing to the company's success.

12. Research the Sector and Competitors

Demonstrating knowledge about the sector and the company's competitors can set you apart. Prepare statistics and recent news about the industry to show that you've done your homework. Even if you're not a business expert, showing awareness of the market landscape can impress interviewers, especially those with a business focus.

Conclusion

Breaking into the UX/UI/Product design field as a junior or stepping up as a mid-weight designer can be challenging, but it's achievable with the right approach. By building a strong, honest portfolio, seeking feedback, showcasing your personality, blending design with business acumen, demonstrating empathy, and preparing thoroughly for interviews, you can stand out in a crowded market. Remember, the key is to be genuine, show your passion, and continuously strive to learn and grow in your craft.

© 2024 Elliot Rylands

© 2024 Elliot Rylands