Dear Human Workplace Team,
I am working to enter the field of User Experience – the usability of websites, apps, etc. I have been doing an online course and now need to get experience working on actual projects. I believe the pain I would solve is that of lost revenue/members/readers when a site is confusing or hard to use.
But I have no dragon-slaying stories in this field and no portfolio to show people. How do I convince people that I not only understand their pain but that I can solve it when I am just starting out and a total newbie?
Thanks for your thoughtful question!
We think you’ve hit the Business Pain nail on the head! You’ve articulated your hiring organization’s problem beautifully.
The next step is to ask “Since all usability people solve these types of pain — visitors abandoning a shopping cart or leaving a site after a few seconds, the lost revenue that results and the frustration that users experience — what is my special ability to do that? What is my specific understanding of those issues?”
This is important because when you define the Business Pain you solve as the disappointment and frustration experienced by site users and the associated revenue loss, you’re making a case for your future employer to think about UI/UX at all — that is, assuming that they have not thought about those issues before.
This approach can work when you are pitching your services to an employer that you believe could and/or should create a new position for you or hire you as a consultant — after which you’ll use the consulting “keyhole” to expand your relationship.
This approach won’t work so well in an organization that has already dedicated resources to UI/UX because they expect you to solve those pains — there is nothing unique about them, since the organization has already begun to solve them (by virtue of the fact that they have a department dedicated to this assignment).
If they already know that customers can’t easily use their site or spend too much time on pointless activities there, then you won’t make an impression on a hiring manager by telling him or her what s/he already knows.
If you’re going to approach organizations that already employ usability people (whether or not you spot a job ad) you’re going to use a different approach and dig more deeply into the pain that managers feel when they have a usability department but they still have usability problems!
We think that it’s a tough sell to get an organization that has never had a usability function to install one for you, before you have experience in the field.
However, we think it’s an easy sell to get an existing UI function head to add you to his or her team once you’ve identified your particular connection to the UI/UX mission.
That begs the question: What is your connection to the mission? What made you choose this field? Start a journal and keep track of the situations that you unravel, explain, explode, make comprehensible and translate for other people.
You must do that — why else would you be drawn to the UI/UX world? Observe and report, then reflect — no incident is too small to add to your collection!
UI/UX is a mindset as much as a set of techniques — a mindset that understands that people find all sorts of things confusing for all sorts of reasons. Your ability to take complicated or confusing things and simplify them is your power in the hiring equation.
Your Dragon-Slaying Stories will take the right hiring manager’s breath away when he or she sees how you “get” UI/UX at a non-technical level — the level of human understanding and experience.
Maybe there’s a story in your Human-Voiced Resume a few weeks from now about helping your young cousin boil down her eleventh-grade math homework to easy concepts.
Maybe there’s a story about re-designing the website for a local not-for-profit organization to make it easier to navigate — with the tremendous uptick in newsletter sign-ups right there as a point of credibility!
We’ve worked with lots of UI/UX folks on their reinvention (because who ever did UI/UX twenty years ago?) and branding for their career-change job search.
All the best to you,
The Human Workplace Team