François here from ABDZ. I would like to share a life lesson, it's more than a lesson actually. I recently completed about 30+ UX design interviews during the course of the last 4-5 months, It's not something I would pride myself about but I did learn numerous lessons that I would treasure to share on ABDZ. Wherever you are a long-time reader, new to the blog, professional or beginner; there are some actions in this article you can unquestionably learn from. Shall we give it a start?
Why? What? How?
First of all, why did I started this ambition? What were my goals? And how did I managed to tackle them. Right? Well it all started from a lack of accomplishment and unhappiness I was feeling from my previous gig. This lack of happiness became more of a real issue so I decided to part ways and tackle this "quest" to find me, the best design job I could possibly find and for my family. I was going to go all out on this "quest" because I have true confidence in my past work, my profile, and furthermore with my skill set. First and foremost I had my list of "requirements":
- Good salary
- On-site anywhere in the World
- Great challenges
- Team ethics, design process
A remote position would be a great addition to the list. For my case, I needed a change in the scenery. I have been living in the same city for 30+ years and cold winter days shouldn't be part of our daily life anymore. *Cough Hello Montreal!
During the course of these interviews, there were some weeks where I actually had more than 6 interviews all lined up in the path of two days, which is a lot to take in. So It was good to have Notion for example where I was able to create a "workspace" for all the places that I applied to and enter the individually updates. You should definitely check it out if you haven't yet. Find the best tools that work the best for you and I find out that going "analog" helped a lot as well: the simple pencil/notebook was easily my choice for quick note-taking and later review everything into Notion.
Before to begin
Remember job searching is not easy. Depending on your goals, your background, your experience and etc. During my search, I did get false hopes, got lied to, ghosted and it's part of the game. It's draining and not motivating at times, but again if you have the right balance and preparation. You should be able to balance it all, be warned still. There is nothing short of easy unless you have to give it your best. On the other side, I did meet and had conversation exchanges with some of the best in our industry. It's always rewarding to know there are good people in our community. I will come back to that.
There is nothing short of easy unless you have to give it your best.
First, your resume
Be as transparent as possible. Look at your resume and if you were sharing a piece of you especially your work experience. I did manage to get my resume reviewed by several recruiters and collect their feedback so I can improve it. It helped a lot to justify several questions they might have got and I solved them through iterations on my own. I did collect small details that I just didn't care but it was very important. Think of previous job dates! Recruiters and managers have little time to scan your resume so make sure you have a clear description of:
- Company, your role, dates
- What were your tasks for the role
- What were your/or team design process
- Skills, tools, "fields of design"
Be prepared to rework your portfolio many "many" times
Yes, you heard me! I think I have worked my portfolio 5-6 times and now I just can't look at it anymore! Hah! It's the best part of our job I think, reliving the past work and re-envision what worked well and what you would have done better under different circumstances.
- Include the problem, process and solution
- Include your contributions vs your team
- If you wanna share a side-project? Please do!
Build your portfolio with 3-5 case studies, why case studies? It's great to emphasize your past work through storytelling and share the pillars: problem, process, and solution. Try to visualize it this way, imagine yourself presenting your portfolio without you being there. Is it easy to navigate, does it answer to the pillars? We can totally continue this subject on the next on ABDZ...to be continued.
Understanding the hiring process
Hiring teams nowadays are doing a tremendous job to keep you in the loop during the entire process. Hat's off to the recruiters for their work and taking the time to process it all. I am thankful for the many recruiters I have met and their work to make the entire process easier and less painful at times. Especially when "wait" becomes a great factor of "inquiétudes" which means worries. Some companies will even take the time to send proper documentation so you understand the entire hiring process which is a huge step from past years. Don't be afraid to ask questions, even if you think they are dumb. They are no dumb questions.
Prep, prep and prep!
Recruiters might help you a chunk with the hiring process but you still have to do the heavy lifting. Preparations! Take the time to learn about the company you are applying for:
- their story, product and services (if it does apply)
- hiring process (on-site interviews), design process, company's ethics
- be passionate on learning more about them
About the on-site interviews, I beautifully "failed" one last year and I wrote my experience on ABDZ. There are a tons of great references out there but my piece of advice. Practice! The more you practice, the more you will be comfortable when you will be in this situation.
Build a network
You think the community is big but it is actually small. So keep it alive! My biggest job facilitator for me has been Twitter. I love Twitter and it's an incredible platform to meet and interact with some of the best in the industry. If you are not on Twitter yet, please do NOW. Like NOW. If things don't work out, don't burn bridges with people because you never know when you will cross their path again. This is a lesson for me, I did burn bridges in the past and it's not a great feeling. I learned my lesson though. Now, I rather take a neutral approach with everybody and keep it leveled even if things don't go the way you would expect.
Don't be an a**hole. Period.
It's kind of related to my previous paragraph, we navigate through a small but powerful community. Let me share this story that will totally make you see how our community is amazing and filled with incredible people. I went inside someone's DMs on Twitter and poked that person for a job opportunity (That company was looking for their next designer). That person went to ask for my resume and portfolio so I sent it. And that person came back with very good critique feedback on my portfolio. It mentioned that my portfolio (at the time) was just "a detailed version of my resume." I could have just flipped that person off and that would be it. But instead, I was so motivated by that critique so I spent the next four days redesigning my portfolio. That newer version of my portfolio opened even more doors that I could ever imagine. It totally pays off to listen for a change and learn to accept a critique of your work which is never easy. Thank you to this person for taking their time to critique my portfolio.
It totally pays off to listen for a change and learn to accept a critique of your work which is never easy.
Epicjobs by Dann Petty
One last thing but not least. I would like to share a shout to epicjobs.co, it's a rad initiative by the mighty Dann Petty who is making this mission to help us find a job. You get to meet the people behind those job postings which is pretty wicked if you ask me. I wish this initiative existed before I started my search but wanted to take with you guys because it's really great and helpful for our design community. Make sure to follow #epicjobs.
I hope this article helped you in some ways, again this experience helped me a lot understanding my goals and your dream job might be closer than you think. Again, be yourself. It's the best advice I have ever got and if things don't work out. Don't let it go and work harder to achieve your goals. If you have any feedback, give me a shout on Twitter and if you have any inquiries for us at ABDZ. You find us through ABDZ Facebook.