This is a question that is most frequently asked when someone is planning a shift in their career to become a UX designer. UX is a great conversion career because it welcomes skills from different disciplines and backgrounds. Whether you’ve worked in marketing, graphic design or hospitality there will be transferable skills you can bring to the table. Due to the scale and complexity of what it takes to create successful products and services, becoming a successful UX designer requires perspectives from all walks of life. From research to development to management, UX design is a multifaceted field.
Here are five tips to help switch your career to UX design.
1. Online Courses
In a previous article, I already introduced the best MOOCs available on the internet which should help getting started on gaining knowledge on UX. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have gained quite a bit of popularity in the last few years, they offer accessible and affordable remote learning opportunities to students all over the world. I found it pretty amazing! Taking a course is a great way to get started and earn the knowledge you need to be able to enter the field and get to work. When choosing a UX design course to invest your time, money, and energy into, it’s essential to consider what your goals are. Are you simply looking to dip your toes into UX design? Do you want to develop your current skill set? Or are you ready to commit to a full career change? Remember, in today’s tech-driven landscape, having skills in UX design can take you a long way.
2. Build a UX portfolio
Having a portfolio is essential if you want to break into UX design. It shows that you understand the UX design process and can solve user problems with the relevant tools and techniques. Your portfolio is also an opportunity to showcase some of your personality. In an age where there is more emphasis on hiring people who match the culture of the business, a portfolio is a perfect opportunity to show that you’re a cultural fit. It’s much harder to get your personality across on a CV given that approximately 99% of CVs follow the same format. Even if you are not interested in UI or graphic design, I am a firm believer a visually-pleasing portfolio is important! It’s just good sense. Pay attention to color palette and fonts—create and follow your own personal mini style guide, i.e make sure that page 3 matches with page 10. It could be the detail that gets people to admire and sharing your work, resulting in deeper exposure in the UX market. Remember, people are visual animals.
3. Network with the UX community
Firstly, don’t undervalue the importance of networking. Networking can open up many doors when you’re trying to break into UX, but the idea of networking is intimidating for many people. LinkedIn is a great place to start. It is incredibly important and it’s something that a lot of people miss. Own your network, share posts, and aim to have a large network of meaningful connections with the likes of UX managers, UX recruiters, UX leads, design managers, and UX architects in industries you want to work in. Once you’ve added these meaningful connections, your feed will be filled with relevant UX content. Don't be afraid to jump in, share posts, interact with other people, and aim to build a strong online presence.
4. Show employers that you’re a lifelong learner
Many employers want to see candidates who are lifelong learners – professionals who are always looking for opportunities to grow. When you are trying to break into UX, work hard on your portfolio and always include as much project work as possible, also don't forget to highlight your other skills to help the application stand out. At the heart of any successful business is its people. Being genuinely interested in learning is great. Wise employers want employees whose minds are open and whose curiosity is boundless. These employees will think creatively, seek solutions and be delightful to work with. The benefits of lifelong learning are plentiful. Employees who constantly evolve their skill sets are able to take advantage of the latest technologies. That translates to better productivity and innovation.
5. Treat the application like a UX project
My final tip to help you to break into UX is to send applications that are relevant to the company. Applications that show that they understand the employer’s needs (like understanding the user in the UX process) have greater chances of success. Many people make the mistake of sending many generic applications to companies in different industries. It’s important to tailor your portfolio to the industry you want to work in. If it’s your goal to do UX design for a health and wellness app, make sure your portfolio is relevant to this industry.
I hope the article has provided some ideas on getting started as a UX designer. Stay curious, experiment, and have fun!