By Connie Molina
How do you write an effective UX resume? In this article, I hope to provide you with some helpful tips and reminders to help you write an updated resume tailored for your dream UX roles.
Over the course of your career, you’ve probably read an article (or two, or three, or four) about how to write a successful resume. In fact, it almost sounds cliché to come up with another resume-writing guide nowadays.
Yet, in this era of constant change, we all need a resume that can perform in a dynamic, technology-driven world. Yes, it’s time to finally tackle that trusty ol’ stash of resumes that we’ve refused to delete from our hard drives. When we don’t update the format of our resume, we refuse to innovate and adapt to change. And that doesn’t sound like you, right?
So let’s start with what to do and what not to do.
UX Resume Do’s and Don’ts
Treat your resume like one of your projects. A UX designer, in essence, is someone who makes the “look and feel” of every interface as easy to navigate and easy on the eye as possible. Provide the same experience to your recruiter and hiring manager. Your resume and portfolio are the first parts of the hiring puzzle and help build up a picture of the candidate in the eyes of the hiring team.
Provide the basic details. Please don’t make recruiters and future employers go guessing for your contact details and location, or whether you completed a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree. Links to your website or online portfolio, which are usually a must for designers, should also be available. Here’s a link written by my colleague, laying out some tips on how to brush up your portfolio: A Recruiter’s Perspective on UX Portfolios.
Be short and concise. Single-page resumes are ideal. Do not oversell yourself by being wordy or repetitive about your tasks and accomplishments. Remember, Resume and Curriculum Vitae aren’t the same.
Be uniform and consistent. Use the same format, layout and fonts. If company names or your job titles are bold or italicized, if you’re using abbreviations or numerals for dates, or double or triple spacing after every job summary, make sure these styles are consistent throughout your resume.
Please proofread for typos, proper spelling and grammar. Regardless if English is your second or third tongue, if you’re applying for a US-based company, please make sure your resume is properly edited. This also holds true for native speakers. We can be careless at times because we think that recruiters and hiring managers don’t really read our resumes. But the fact is that we and the hiring managers DO read your resume. Typos, misspelling, and even tone and word choices matter.
Cover letter is not a must but could be a plus! A short cover or introductory letter means extra effort from you and is always very helpful. It is your opportunity to highlight your achievements and experience dovetailing the role you’re targeting.
Do not keep a multi-paged generalist resume that makes you a jack-of-all-trades kind of candidate. Are you a multi-skilled or hybrid candidate? Make sure you have resumes tailored to fit the specific role you’re exploring. Know when your “extra skills” could be an advantage or a liability by making sure you fully understand the job description.
Please don’t rely on LinkedIn when asked for a resume. Recruiters (whether 3rd party or internal) are required to submit a formal resume, and often, the PDF version of your LinkedIn profile doesn’t count. It’s a good resource for an initial phone screen, but if you’re serious about applying, have a good resume written by you ready in PDF or Word format.
The 3 C’s of a Successful Resume
What are the first things recruiters look for in a resume? Let me introduce you to the 3 C’s:
Who are you? What is your objective? What do you bring to the table? How can you bring value to the company? The top third of your resume is what we call the “gold mine.” This is where you can add a summary or bullet points that answer the above questions as briefly as possible.
Formatting, fonts, spacings, margins are all small details but make a huge difference when done properly. Remember that little grammatical and formatting mistakes quickly add up.
Succinct summaries that give more emphasis to your achievements (rather than your day-to-day tasks/responsibilities) are always more interesting for recruiters and future employers. If you can provide numbers such as performance indicators or figures that quantify results, you’ll surely rock!
The Top Keywords and Skills for UX Professionals
Over the last few years, the UX market has become more and more competitive as the talent pool has grown. With demand comes experts who are formally trained and armed with the latest toolkits in the UX space. How do you remain at the top of the pool? One way is to understand the skills and key terms we’re currently looking for in UX candidates (this could vary depending on our client’s industry vertical).
Here are current top keywords:
And here our current top skills:
Hard Skills vs Soft Skills
In your quest to become a leading UX professional, remember that your work relies not just on hard skills but soft skills, too. In fact, some companies are now requiring applicants to complete cognitive tests and behavioral assessments to see how potential employees think. The results of many of these tests correlate with the soft skills needed to excel in a particular role. Nonetheless, many candidates often omit these skills on their resumes. So what are the most common soft skills that companies are seeking recently?
This soft skill is essential for any user-centered work. After all, how effective can a user-focused design be with an understanding of customer needs?
As a UX practitioner, you must also be a good storyteller. Your resume should show a clear picture of your ability to communicate effectively to various audiences. You can showcase this ability by citing scenarios where you presented a relevant project proposal to stakeholders and got their buy-in. But remember, be as concise as possible. The ability to tell a story in a limited number of words will help hiring managers see that you know your craft well.
Most UX teams now follow the Agile Methodology. To be successful, Agile requires strong collaboration and frequent and face-to-face communications between members. Being a lone wolf in a UX team will make you an outlier and more of a liability than an asset to the team.
The UX Practitioner’s Toolkit
Arm yourself with the following tools to have that competitive edge. These are the tools that often come up in our job requirements (as of publication). Continuous learning is one of the top characteristics of an effective UX’er, so stay up to date!
- UserTesting, an online platform for testing applications and software
- Optimizely, a useful tool for running A/B tests and other experiments
- Sketch, a popular vector graphics design software
- Adobe XD, a UX design tool for online and mobile applications
- Figma, a collaborative design tool for working in teams
- InVision, an online tool for prototyping and wireframing
- Framer X, a popular tool for creating interactive prototypes
- Proto.io, a leading online platform for mobile and desktop app testing
- Zeplin, a platform for sharing style guides and specifications
- UXPin, a user interface design tool