by Damian Rees on 03/01/12 at 9:45 am
User experience (UX) is a field that is growing. More and more people are learning, practicing and preaching UX. And many companies are looking to hire UX designers. However, as someone who runs a UX agency, I see plenty of UX resumes and I can safely say there’s a lot of UX people out there who don’t practice what they preach when it comes to writing their résumé. So, here’s a simple guide to help you think more about the ‘user’ of your résumé so that you can stand out from the crowd.
Understand the Filtering Process
Let’s start with some typical user centered design questions: Who’s the user? In what context are they reading your résumé? What’s their goal? Following this line of thinking reveals some useful insight into how to design your résumé. One way to offer this insight is to give you some understanding of my process in reviewing resumes.
Let’s say I’m recruiting for a specific role in my company. I’ve had a lot of resumes come through for the job I’ve advertised. The cut-off date has passed so now I need to go through the process of choosing some people to interview.
I have a 3 stage filtering process:
- I don’t have time to read them all so I want to know quickly by scanning your résumé whether you’re going to make the ‘maybe’ list or if you’re going to be filed in the bin.
- Now I’m going to look at the ‘maybes’ in more detail to decide whether you meet the criteria for the job in question. If I don’t have to work too hard to work this out, then you make it to the ‘possible interview’ pile.
- If you’ve made it this far then I might read your résumé in more depth and consider you against other candidates. Now you need to say something different, something compelling to me. If there’s something in your résumé that stands out and I can see why you might be a good fit for the team, I’ll add you to the ‘invite to interview’ pile.
What you’ll notice from my process is that it’s not until stage 3 that I’ll consider your résumé in the way you want me to. In stage 1 and 2 I’m harshly filtering. Not because I don’t care, but because I just don’t have the time. My process might be unique so I’d advise you to do some more research here. Talk to people you know in a recruitment role and try to understand their process and what they want from a résumé. But if you ask any recruiter, most will have some sort of filtering process.
The ‘user’ of your résumé won’t read it word for word. They’re going to scan it and decide whether to bin it or consider it further. They get a lot of resumes just like yours all the time. Resumes have a limited capacity to sell you, so make sure you give more space to show your key selling points than you do to the basics of where you went to school, contact details and etc.
Emphasize Your Key Selling Points
The wireframe below shows a basic structure of how you might design your résumé to emphasise your key selling points as early in the process as possible. This basic structure takes the user through the core aspects of why they should choose you, and demonstrates that you have the key criteria they’re looking for.
Your key selling points should show why you’re different to all the other candidates. What do you really care about? What are your passions? What are you going to offer that’s different or unique? This is the area where you should show your passion for UX, talk about your blog, the UX articles you’ve written, the conferences you’ve attended, the questions you’ve asked/answered on sites like Quora or UX Stackexchange, give links and evidence here if you can. Also, think outside of UX here and list the volunteer work you’ve done, show your values as a person and your passion and interests outside of work and how they could benefit your future employer. For example, lets say you love fashion, maybe you can explain how you’re fashion expertise could help them target potential clients such as fashion retailers and manufacturers.
Another thing is to respond specifically to the criteria in the job advert. A good way to do this could be to include a checklist with ticks against the core criteria listed for the job. Use bold, large font, good use of white space to emphasize your basic criteria matching the job. You need to focus demonstrating your credibility in an easy to scan format
Fundamentally, your résumé should put a business case forward for why this company needs you. Not why they need what you do (they have a pile of other people who can offer that), but why they need you to do it. What makes you special? Once you figure that out and follow these guidelines, you’ll have no trouble landing the job of your dreams.
Damian is a User-Centered Design Specialist & co-owner of Experience Solutions. You can follow Damian and his team on twitter @experiencesolns.