Searching for your first UX Design Role
What's your story? Are you transitioning from a well-established career to UX Design? Or are you still in college and already know that you want to work in UX? Perhaps, you have just graduated. and realized that you'd like to work with something different and came across UX Design.
You may not have a background in Design, but you want to make a career shift. There are many stories from our students who have pivoted into a UX design career, all of which are incredible!
One common question among all these journeys is: How can I obtain my first opportunity in UX Design?
No matter what, the anxiety in these early steps affects everyone. You've been researching the field of UX, studying a lot, and dedicating yourself to making a career change.
You've been reading a lot about the subject. But the moment of truth is when you start working in this field and embark on a new career. And we long for that. For the new, the challenges, the hands-on experience, the achievements!
But at the same time that we feel motivated, so many doubts arise: Where do I start? What do I have to do? How do I build a portfolio if I'm a beginner? How do I apply for jobs?
Take a breath, and rest assured; we're here to help! We've gathered 7 tips to help you secure your first opportunity in UX Design. Check it out!
1) Be patient
It's normal to feel desperate while searching for a first job opportunity. The desperation can increase if you're transitioning to a new career – UX Design – because of the many insecurities involved, from age to background.
In moments of impatience and despair, remember that the UX Design market is growing.
The job offers are much higher than the number of qualified professionals to meet this demand. So, your chances of quickly landing a position in the field are extremely high; the UX market is booming!
The perspective is that by 2050 there will be 100 million professionals in the field.
Even with the pandemic and health crisis in 2020, the UX Design market continued to grow. This is because companies had to adapt their products and services to the digital world during this period of isolation and quarantine. In order to do that, they had to hire UX and Product Designers to carry out these transformations.
Even if you don't have experience in the field, due to this high demand and hiring challenges, many companies are offering opportunities to professionals without experience. But it's important to demonstrate a solid theoretical knowledge of UX Design and the potential for development.
Therefore, be patient, manage your anxiety, and focus your energy on studying so that you can also achieve your long-awaited opportunity in the field of UX.
2) Improve your LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a social media platform focused on the professional lives of its users. It allows you to showcase your experiences, education, and connect with people. In addition, you can consume interesting content about careers, companies, and the market.
A significant number of recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidate profiles. Therefore, it's only natural and logical to create a profile on the platform and keep it updated!
However, remember that LinkedIn is a professional tool. Avoid using it as an entertainment social media platform like Facebook or Instagram.
Build your profile, highlight your skills, and present everything in a clear and simple manner.
Don't forget to understand the platform's SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and identify the most searched keywords or the keywords you want your profile to be associated with.
Oh, and having your profile in English is also important (for those with another mother tongue)!
Reading tip: LinkedIn for Designers: Tips to Boost Your Profile
3) Focus on networking
Networking means connecting with other professionals, from different companies and even from other countries.
Knowing how to network is one of the ways to secure job opportunities, especially in UX Design.
Alyson Ambrosio, a student of the MID program, is an example. He secured his first UX/UI Design opportunity at a startup early on in his studies, thanks to the networking he had already built in the Design field in his city.
The UX Design market is relatively new and growing. As a result, many professionals transition to UX from various other fields. This creates a sense of empathy and collaboration among UX professionals.
Being part of groups is extremely important to stay in touch with new trends, meet new people, and find job opportunities.
Follow pages and professionals in UX Design; Engage in professional groups; Use LinkedIn to expand your network; Participate in seminars and events.
In addition to the above, there are various other ways to build your network.
For example, Aela has a group for MID students. It's a perfect place to exchange experiences and make contacts.
“The person in charge of hiring was a student from the Master Interface Design Bootcamp. They asked for recommendations from Aela's mentors, who mentioned my name and praised my work. This helped me go into the interview more confidently." – Luka Vasconcelos, MID student.”
4) Build a UX Design portfolio
Just like in many other fields that deal with more technical content, it is essential for a UX Design professional to have a portfolio.
But don't be mistaken! Building a portfolio is not just about showcasing all the work you've done.
It means choosing which projects best demonstrate your qualities and which ones have an interesting story to tell.
Use storytelling techniques to grab your audience's attention and set you apart from the thousands of other portfolios vying for the same position.
Also, it's important to show your thought process and how you arrived at the final result. It's common for people to think that building a portfolio only involves showcasing the final screens of a project. However, thinking that way is a big misconception!
Reading tip: 7 Mistakes to Avoid In Your UX Design Portfolio
The feedback our MID students received regarding their portfolios
We always emphasize the importance of a portfolio and help our students build theirs.
Here are some testimonials about our student's portfolios:
"…I had just shared my updated portfolio, and a third-party recruiter contacted me. I didn't have to take any tests – during the interview, they opened my portfolio and asked a few specific questions about the design process. A week later, I received a positive response!"
"….I created a portfolio overnight using exercises from MID levels 1 and 2 and sent it out. I was called for an interview and ended up securing the position. Unlike an Art Director's portfolio, in UX, you need to explain everything you did to reach the final result. The most important thing is to build strong reasoning behind the projects you present."
"…after some time, I discovered that Seedrs hired me not because of the quality and complexity of my portfolio projects but because of the storytelling I applied. I decided to create my own identity for my portfolio. It was very interesting to see that the company considered storytelling more important than the projects themselves."
The objective of the portfolio is to showcase your thought process in UX, what you are capable of, and how you approached and solved each of the problems presented in your projects.
But how do you build a portfolio if you're a beginner?
If you're seeking your first job opportunity in UX Design, you probably don't have UX projects to include in your portfolio yet. That's normal.
Do you know how you can create a portfolio without experience? Your portfolio doesn't have to consist of real projects you've done. You can use "fake projects" or exercises created for the purpose of learning.
In this case, it's common to use Redesigns as fake projects. For example, our Mastering Interface Design program has one big project at each level that results in case studies to include in your UX/UI Design portfolio.
The course mentors are very strict when it comes to these exercises, ensuring that the quality of your project is high! Many students from our course used the exercises from the MID in their portfolios and secured excellent opportunities in UX/UI Design.
“I had an interview and managed to put together a portfolio overnight. I gathered three pieces and a complete case study using the exercises from the MID. I presented the portfolio and passed the process.” – Joyce Almazan
“I built my portfolio during the MID program. I worked on the redesign projects proposed in the course, following the meticulous guidance of the mentors and the help of the Aela Community. So, everything I worked on became a resource for my portfolio and for presenting in interviews“ – Fabia Coelho
5) Hearing "No" is part of the process, learn from it
You will hear many negative responses. It's normal; it happens to everyone. But don't let that discourage you. Sometimes it takes a while to find an opportunity that fits your profile. Don't give up!
The important thing to remember is that the selection process follows a similar format. Often, you will hear the same questions and even take similar tests. Therefore, participate in various processes!
While this strategy increases your chances of success, it also helps you become familiar with interviews. You will mature, learn, and begin to understand exactly what companies are looking for.
You can treat this process as part of your studies. After all, participating in these recruitment processes takes work, as we often feel pressured and nervous. That's why practice is crucial so that you can get used to it all and feel more confident and less nervous.
By doing so, you will become better and better at interviews and this will undoubtedly help you not only in your first job but also in future opportunities that come your way.
6) You don't have to accept the first job offer
You don't have to accept the first offer that comes your way. You see, the first opportunity that knocks on your door may not always be the best option for you. We understand that bills keep coming, but you also need to work for a company that aligns with your values, right?
So here's a tip: before registering on various websites and searching for job vacancies on LinkedIn and in UX Design groups, think about the company you would like to work for.
Researching companies isn't just about looking for job openings; it's also about seeking a career in a place that gives you the opportunity and tools to showcase your full potential and grow professionally, even if you're still at the beginning of your journey.
Give preference to companies with a higher level of maturity in UX Design and that allow you to work specifically in UX/UI Design to apply your knowledge and gain practical experience in your daily work.
Of course, in urgent situations, accepting the first offer may be almost obligatory, even if it's not the best company for you. However, if you have the chance to choose a better place to establish your career, we strongly advise you to do so!
Make the first move
Once you have done your research and ensured your interest in working for that company, why not send an email?
It may seem strange, but about 70% to 80% of job vacancies are not formally posted.
Alternatively, depending on your approach and your story, the company may create a position for you to work.
Look for the contact information of the HR department, the UX team manager, or even someone in a higher position, and reach out to them.
However, remember: the key is demonstrating your interest in the company and establishing initial contact/networking. Do not be pushy or demanding towards people.
Reading tip: Why Are Balanced Teams So Important To UX?
7) Keep learning for growth
Learning is never too much. Even if the first opportunity in UX takes a while to appear, don't be discouraged.
Keep dedicating yourself to studying. By doing so, you will increase your theoretical background, improve the case studies to include in your portfolio and be better prepared for practical experience within a company.
The more technically prepared you are, the more chances you will have to seize an opportunity.
Mastering Interface Design (MID) program
As we have seen throughout this article, there are actionable moves to help you conquer your first opportunity in UX:
- and studies.
We present the Mastering Interface Design (MID), a UX and Product Design certification program focused on practical skills for professionals at all levels, from beginners to senior practitioners.
You will find the practical implementation of the tips we listed above in the MID.
The program includes the following:
- Mentorship: to guide you, provide feedback and evaluate your projects to know when you're ready for the next program's level;
- Practical exercises: that can be part of your initial portfolio;
- Student Group: a perfect community to work on your networking;
The MID is a course tailored for the job market, where you will learn everything from scratch and connect with other professionals while staying up to date with UX market trends.
Would you like to learn more about the MID? Please visit our admissions page to know more and secure a spot in the next cohort of the Mastering Interface Design Program.
And if you're not sure if the MID is the right program for you, check out the articles below: