July 8, 2022No Comments

Best job search sites for UX/UI design jobs

There is no guarantee how your next job turns out, but the interview process can be optimized for a better experience. This better experience starts with looking further than the general job portals like Indeed, Monster, Monday and Reed.

The main reason I highly encourage discovering more specialised job portals is that these general sites have quite low-quality posts for tech and design positions. Companies that advertise there are commonly not operating in tech, and so don’t know the tech ecosystem. They notoriously mismanage and underpay the positions, because they evaluate them in comparison to their ‘other’ administrative functions. Their interview process is also unusually long, more demanding and less respectful.

The odd ball

I will mention LinkedIn here separately, because even though it’s a quite generic platform, specialised tech and design recruiters use it extensively. LinkedIn works very well to connect with agents. Since most of the jobs are posted by an agency of some sort, simply applying to those ads puts you in contact with the agency. It is a very comfortable way to build an agent network and has served me very well over the years. You can read more about it in Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 1 – setting up the opportunities.

But the best job seeking experience comes from job sites that serve the tech and design industry specifically. From the browsing experience to the average salary, they are just way above the generic sites. I began compiling a list of them quite early in my career.

The best job sites for tech and design

I had two lists, one for permanent jobs and one for freelance gigs, for those occasions I had bandwidth to take on side projects as well. The lists constantly change over time, so I will keep this post updated as new portals come and go.

  1. Tech / design job sites:

app.otta.com

dynamitejobs.com

justremote.co/remote-jobs

whoishiring.io

nodesk.co

www.starkflow.co

remoteok.com

hired.com

welcometothejungle.com/en/jobs

angel.co/jobs

designbuddies.pallet.com/jobs

dribbble.com/jobs

  1. Tech / design freelance sites:

contra.com

toptal.com

worksome.com

communo.com

yunojuno.com

the-dots.com

twago.com

userise.co

a.team

workingnotworking.com

If you know of other sites that worked for you, please do send me the link and I’ll add them to these lists with a credit to you.

Keep track of your applications

Keeping your application process manageable by using only that 2-3 sites that worked for you is very important for tracking your applications. There is nothing more embarrassing than getting an interview invite but not finding your application or the job description, resulting in trying to blindly navigate the interview without knowing who the heck you’re talking to.

Also, at a later stage of you career, you probably will have several versions of your CV targeting several different types of positions often set up with different salary expectation.

The other very important aspect of being able to track your application is the ability to objectively measure the response rate. From this, you can gain an overview on what type of companies/roles responded to your application. It gives an insight to the external interpretation of your CV. If you’re not happy with the responses, you can shift the tone to attract other kind of offers. You can read more about it in Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 1 – setting up the opportunities.

I have had to change my CV and even my portfolio several times based on the responses I was receiving from agents and companies. When I was mainly getting interview request for visual design and design system type of roles, I had to add more sketches to my portfolio and some extra research terms to my CV. When I got responses from a lot of fintech companies (not my favourite industry), I had to push the finance and data-heavy projects lower in my portfolio.

Summary

In order to land where you want to be, it is imperative to finetune your self-presentation according to the opportunities it attracts. Tracking the applications, at least loosely, is super important for building your career. I hope this summary helps to guide you through the process and get you where you want to be. To be emotionally prepared for the interview process, you can find guidance in Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 2 – Interviewing

June 24, 2022No Comments

Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 2 – Interviewing

Outside from maintaining a few polished CVs and a well structured portfolio, there are some things you can do before and throughout the job seeking process that will benefit you in the long run. As mentioned in the Step 1 - Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job, there is a lot of different advice out there on how to approach job searching. Surprisingly, I found a lot of them, even from educational sources, quite stereotypical.

Below, I have compiled a list of reality check and put it all in one place.

  1. Visibility over networking

You’ll hear a lot, that networking is a must. Well, it’s not networking, more like visibility, that is a must. But if you’re an extrovert and love networking, then by all means do it. However, if you’re a quiet type with small but close network, being forced to advertise yourself could come across as sweaty and salesy. The common rational for ‘networking is a must’, is that 70% of jobs are hidden, AKA not advertised, because companies want someone with reference.

Referrals are highly preferred, because hiring managers can share responsibility over the hire. In reality however, the chance that you meet at time (being available when they have vacancy) and that you have the right skillset (having done in the past what they are asking of you) within your network, in addition to having a referee happy to risk their own relationship with the person they refer you to, is reasonable slim. In my 12-year career, it happened only once.

The fact is, the head-hunters are your most common reference. The vast majority of gigs and jobs come in via agents/head-hunters/recruiters. So to be visible for them is what brings result. Half of my LinkedIn network is made of agents adding me to their circle. Accepting their invite is all I do as networking, and it works. You can read more about the job search preparation in Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 1 – setting up the opportunities.

  1. Confidence in skills over confident personality

You’ll also hear a lot, to be confident. For God sake, don’t mistaken this with actual confidence. The hiring goal is not to find a confident person, but to find an adaptable one, who can flexibly adjust their approach to the team. Most seniors will confirm that even mentioning too many skills or having noticeably more items in your portfolio then others, makes you less likely to be shortlisted. When companies say they want confident people, the mean someone who can clearly list what tools they use, what tasks they do, what skills they have. That helps them to place the candidate to the right project.

Due to this phenomenon, as I progress through my career, I become less and less employable by average teams. Simply because of my strong background, I don’t even have to be confident to intimidate, the sheer number of years in the field makes the hiring managers shrink in a lot of cases. When a potential teammate of mine commented: ‘oh I see you have a lot of impressive work in your portfolio’, I kind of knew, I was not going to be called back. On the positive side, clients do like impressive portfolios, so my daily rate increased.

  1. Big names, big competition, low response rate

You will often be advised to start the job search on the biggest community platforms like Dribbble or Behance. They look such an obvious place to start at. But their job boards are in a middle of a competing designer community, so the job listed there are extremely over applied. I personally have not once in my life got a gig or a job from these sites. They rarely even respond. If you feel excited to build a presence on these sites, getting inspired by the vibrant community, do it, but only if it comes naturally and you don’t feel overpowered by the high-profile agency works that have flooded these platforms in the last years. If you're looking for better job search experience, please visit Best job search sites for UX/UI design jobs.

  1. Avoid going political

Common advice will tell you to show off your awareness as an EDI-Climate-‘People above all’ –advocate. That’s very thin ice, like most political topics. The majority of companies are trying their best but are very aware that they are falling short on most demands. For market push, they often show off as being fully compliant, but won’t hire a whistle-blower because the true story is not what it seems.

This is true that you ‘interview the company’ just as they do. But that would mean checking what they have for you (educational budget, flexible hours, carrier path, etc.) rather than calling them out on politically sensitive topics.

No interviewer can afford to say that ‘Oh, well, we still have 90% male dominance in the product team and will likely keep it this way because the dudes weren’t happy that they had to change their language to accommodate to a female colleague’. Instead, the interviewer will present a nice marketing slogan on how much they have improved and will on-board several female colleagues in the upcoming weeks, then mark you as ‘not proceeding with’.

  1. Similar over best

Also contrary to the popular belief, hiring managers are not looking for the best of the best. They’re looking for a person who fits. Behind the interview curtains, every interviewer is looking for a personality type that:

  • fits within the existing team dynamic (not much better than the rest, not much louder than the rest, not much more active than the rest…)
  • likely won’t confront the hiring managers themselves or people above them, so safe to introduce as their hire
  • ideally covers some skillset they need (yes, this one is the least important)

The simple reason for this preference is that in reality, the work is done only if the team is together. Breaking the team dynamic irreparably with a new addition is the biggest fear of most hiring managers. Yet, when giving feedback, they need to look professional and so explain every rejection with a professional answer. In some cases, the rejection will be nice and neutral, such as:

‘We decided to move forward with another candidate more suited to the needs of this specific project’.

Perfectly neutral, super professional and meticulously crafted answer that won’t hurt the candidate in any way. Unfortunately, most rejections come with unnecessary comments about your skillset and experience. One of the very things that makes the interview process unreasonably draining.

One manager who interviewed me for example, who had the same experience in the industry as myself, did not write on the feedback form ‘conflict of position’. He wrote ‘lack of research skills’. And this wasn’t even the cheapest shot I got, which leads us to the next point, the rejection resilience.

  1. Rejection resilience

Rejection resilience requires objectivity to see that only a very small portion of rejections have anything to do with your professional experience or skillset. Companies are searching for the best personality match and only the interviewers know what that is.

The most common real reasons behind a rejection:

  • You didn’t come across as a similar character to those already in the team
  • The interviewer picked their favourite a long time ago but couldn’t cancel the prescheduled interviews for HR reporting reasons
  • The interviewer had a bad association with the industries or company types you have in your CV or portfolio
  • The position was created by higher stakeholders and the interviewer didn’t agree with it. Accordingly, no one will be found suitable
  • The interviewer has a bad experience or unfavourable association to your personality type (introverts are often misunderstood as uncooperative, for example)
  • The interviewer has a clear picture in his head about the look and talk of a designer based on corporate stories and that is what they look for
  • The interviewer felt you’re too idealistic or politically too committed to certain trends to cope with their flimsy compliance, failing on legal requirements here and there
  • You didn’t come across as presentable enough (this can be called ‘politically pretty’) to introduce you to people as their choice internally or externally
  • The interviewer didn’t feel you’re stable enough to handle the occasional emotional turbulence/conflicts within the team
  • They need to improve the gender ratio and you’re not a woman
  • They need to improve their inclusivity and you’re not a minority
  • Their budget is lower than what they communicate and they were hoping you would let them talk you into a lower salary
  • The vacancy never existed, they had a person for the position already but for liability reasons they needed to officially open the role (absolutely common in the public sector, which is why I don’t bother to fill out any lengthy application forms)
Summary

I hope this list helps you to see your position as a candidate more clearly. The job search is nothing personal, it’s more like looking for a business match. Setting up your strategy at the beginning will save you a lot of headache and wasted effort. If you need guidance on job search preparation, please visit Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 1 – setting up the opportunities.

June 8, 2022No Comments

Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 1 – setting up the opportunities

Job searching is a painstaking process. The amount of job descriptions a candidate has to filter through to find a suitable role takes hours out of the day and only after that do the interview processes start. And it’s not just the time and effort, but the amount of self-questioning that comes up during the process that make it emotionally draining. Most people would rather take a compromise at their current company then start all over again. However, this has never been my personal way of thinking. If a company was not as advertised, I left. In one year alone I left 4 companies in row, starting the job hunt from scratch every time. Though this was tiresome, it helped me to build the interview resilience I have today.

A good amount of advices circling around in the industry about how to find a design job. Most of them, I found too general and non-specific enough to be applied to basically any career, therefore lacked any applicability to real life.

But fear no more. Here, I list here a couple of tips from the reality of job hunting in a design or tech realm from my own experience.

  1. Set your preferred model

Remote and hybrid models (commonly 3 days office and 2 days at home) dominate the industry since the pandemic. That gives a lot of creative freedom and saves a lot of commute time for the designers. In countries with strong tech industry (US, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and so on) it shouldn’t be a problem to find a place that fits your preferences. No need to compromise for an onsite-only job if you’d prefer a couple of days working from home, you’ll surely find a job that can accommodate that. Just set out your preferences before you start the application process, because they need to be clearly communicated during the screening calls. Please feel free to use this template to formulate your preferences [link here].

  1. Constantly feed the funnel

It is true that the average response rate for job applications is about 10%. If you target well, (meaning you pick jobs that your skills are matched to), it can go up to 20%. In my experience, if it goes above 30%, you have probably under-priced yourself. It happened to me when I got back to the job market after the lockdown released, unaware that the average salary within the tech sector grew about 30%-50%. I happily adjusted my salary expectation and the response rate went back to normal.

Even though I’m not in favour of calling job searching a sales job, because sales comes with poor associations, the sales funnel model is nevertheless completely applicable. Generally speaking, from about 1000 relevant job ads, you would apply for about 300. The rest would fall out of your interest for asking too much upfront, not matching your preferences, operating in an industry that is not comfortable for you etc. From those 300 applications, 30-50 will call you in for an initial interview, which is a screening call with the recruiter (internal or external).

What the screening call is looking to find out is:

  • you can speak English and can communicate clearly
  • you are looking for a job (you would surprise how many applicants just want to know their price to justify their raise request for their current employer)
  • you are available within reasonable timeframe
  • you have a salary expectation within their budget (which they rarely share with you)

From these 30-50 screening calls, you’ll have about 10-15 progressing forward to the professional interviews, 2-3 reaching the third round and 1 will give you an offer. As you can see, you need to constantly feed the funnel with new applications until you get an offer. You can find the Best job search sites for UX/UI design jobs to feed the funnel.

  1. Increase the response rate per stage

The numbers of responses (only the positive ones are relevant) can be pushed higher in every stage. What makes the numbers go up in the different stages:

  • Application stage

A well-structured CV (feel free to use my CV sample made for design/tech jobs), a neat portfolio (check the guide on design portfolio structure) and most importantly, applying only for jobs that have high keyword overlap with your CV. After a couple of days of reading job descriptions, you’ll be the master of using keywords.

  • Screening call stage

Practice some ice-breakers, because these screenings are usually audio only and are quite short (10-25min). You therefore have little space to show that you have a charming personality that everyone would love to work with – and that is the other core question of this stage apart from the logistics mentioned earlier.

  • Interview stage

Be prepared with premade answers to the most common questions. A vast number of interviewers will ask variations of the same questions. Do have a written, printed, rehearsed answer for the most of them, especially for the trickier ones. Your question list will grow as you partake in more interview (feel free to use the sample list with design interview questions) and your ability to mix and match the answers will grow as well.

  1. Don't evaluate before the follow up email

Always wait for the follow up email before evaluating your interview performance. Interviewing is a matchmaking process with a company, more specifically with a small group of people you’ll be working with. Only a few people will show their true feelings about this match. Most of them will just try to get along and keep smiling, even if they decide it's not a match on their side in ten minutes after starting the discussion. Sometimes you have a clear sense that you’re being judged (interviewer forming preconception instead of genuinely listening and connecting to the candidate), sometimes it’s much less obvious. You’ll be able to recognise this thanks to the follow up email (or the lack of it - no feedback is a clear feedback).

  1. Look for several different job titles

Filter for at least 3-5 or even more different job titles during your job search. The meaning of UX and UI changes by company, by industry and by trends. For example, the meaning of Visual Designer has shifted from Graphic Designer to UI Designer in the last couple of years. The title of UX Designer has started to shift towards UX Researcher. In the meantime, Interaction Designer became synonymous with UI Designer, while it was closer to what is now a UX Designer. At the same time, the generalist UX/UI Designer is most commonly referred as a Product Designer. Look around on the Best job search sites for UX/UI design jobs what is the current state of the titles in your focus area.

If you want to be sure you apply for the right job, always check the task list for things that you’ve done in the past. If the job description is unfamiliar, the company likely associate the role you’re searching for with a different title. For example, if a UI Designer role requires a GitHub account and front-end coding skills, that means they are actually searching for a UI Developer (AKA Front-end Developer).

  1. Prepare some professional summary

You’ll see in the UI/UX designer sample CV, that it starts with a short professional summary, AKA achievement summary, AKA elevator pitch, AKA highlights, AKA professional statement … and I’m sure it has a lot of other names, too. Whatever it’s called, it’s the single most impactful part of the document, offering a quick overview of a candidate’s core qualities.

The professional summary is a 2-3-sentence overview, containing:

  • your years in the field (or historical passion if you're on entry level)
  • specialization
  • honours/peeks (if any)
  • the most recognisable company names (pick 1-3 that are best respected in your area and/or target industry) or your best offer that is most valuable for that position

Creating this summary is not a ‘set it and forget it’ task. Ideally, you should revise it based on the call back rate and the type of offers it attracts. Also, targeting different industries requires different summaries. In my case, for example, for those positions that required mentoring/teaching experience, I had a separate statement highlighting my psychology studies and the institutes I’ve been doing mentorship at. For positions looking for a strong professional to lead their project, I was talking about my multi-disciplinary product experience, not mentioning psychology or mentoring at all.

Summary

You certainly don’t need a new CV for every job. But it’s a good idea to divide up the parts of yourself that you need to discuss – as mentioned above, not all jobs are interested in all parts of you. In a following article, Effective job search to get your first or next UX/UI job – Step 2 – Interviewing, we will discuss in more detail the best steps for you to take when you have caught the attention of a company and need to keep them interested.

 

February 11, 20202 Comments

Practical analysis of the ‘slow and painstaking’ work behind the ‘fast and easy’ interfaces

At some time in their career, every interface designer get to the point of trying to create one of those 'fast and easy' interfaces that most of their companies are already advertising. The design reality is that what is fast and easy on the visitors' side is slow and painstaking on the designers’ side.  Read more

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