How to Design a Better UX Resume

by on 03/01/12 at 9:45 am

User experience 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 emphasize 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. If you’re looking for a résumé template that emphasizes key selling points and is easy to scan, check out Light Resume.

How to Design a Better UX Resume

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 on 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.


How to Design a Better UX Resume How to Design a Better UX Resume

Damian is a User-Centered Design Specialist & co-owner of Experience Solutions. You can follow Damian and his team on twitter @experiencesolns.

10 Responses to “How to Design a Better UX Resume”

  1. Timothy Whalin

    Mar 2nd, 2012

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate the outline of how a resume should be setup, though it would be very useful to see some examples of great UX resumes.

    • Alex

      Apr 25th, 2012

      Check out my website for a resume example that received a lot of positive reviews from recruiters and hiring managers. Hope it helps!

  2. Robin

    Mar 5th, 2012

    Thanks for giving me a fresh insight in my resume. There’s a lot of stuff that we all just know. But like you said we don’t do this in our own resume.

  3. Tim from IntuitionHQ

    Mar 7th, 2012

    Excellent read. As Robin mention before, we often know lot of stuff, but we don’t do this in our own resume. Something else comes to mind. You need to show that you have a good understanding of what a positive impact UX can have on the bottom line of a business.

    Understanding that means that a person will make a greater investment in the process and the final product. And that is so much more appealing for an employer than just another random resume.

  4. Barnabas Nagy

    Mar 14th, 2012

    I’ve spent like a week with the design of my CV and another 2-3 weeks with my website so I pretty much agree with you.

  5. Mark Oleszczak

    Mar 18th, 2012

    This is a fantastic article, and I used it as an awesome reference when redesigning my resume.

    I 100% agree with this. It’s so important to practice what you preach, and oftentimes a resume is rushed as you usually are preparing it quickly because you on the way out of your current position.

    So important to nail your resume as well – as it is the face for you until you get your face-to-face interview.

  6. Avangelist

    Mar 20th, 2012

    You can apply this to any resume, this is not a specific method based on a role relating to user experience, but it does provide a better one for the reader

  7. Alex

    Apr 25th, 2012

    For those wanting an example, you can see my old resume by linking from my website (click my name), and clicking “resume” for the pdf.

    It’s not perfect for everyone, but when I was actively hunting for work it received numerous compliments from recruiters and hiring managers. Eventually it landed me my current job, designing UX for medical software.

    This is a long resume, since I’ve been in the field over 14 years. It’s also wordy, but it allows for the three levels of reading Damian recommends. Please note that I actively engage the reader with lines like, “Ask me how I singlehandedly saved the launch of…,” etc.

    Hope this helps someone!

    Recruiters: please do not contact me, I’m happy where I am.

    P.S. If this blog strips the URL down to the top level domain, do this: click “portfolio” at the top of the page, then click “resume” in the body of the text or in the footer content well. You’ll get the pdf version.

  8. Pravakara Kumar Paramanik

    Nov 3rd, 2012

    Points required to prepare a CV

    -Personal details :Normally these would be your name, address, date of birth (although with age discrimination laws now in force this isn’t essential), telephone number and email.

    -Education and qualifications : Your degree subject and university, plus A levels and GCSEs or equivalents. Mention grades unless poor!

    -Work experience :• Use action words such as developed, planned and organised.
    • Even work in a shop, bar or restaurant will involve working in a team, providing a quality service to customers, and dealing tactfully with complaints. Don’t mention the routine, non-people tasks (cleaning the tables) unless you are applying for a casual summer job in a restaurant or similar.
    • Try to relate the skills to the job. A finance job will involve numeracy, analytical and problem solving skills so focus on these whereas for a marketing role you would place a bit more more emphasis on persuading and negotiating skills.
    • “All of my work experiences have involved working within a team-based culture. This involved planning, organisation, co-ordination and commitment e.g., in retail, this ensured daily sales targets were met, a fair distribution of tasks and effective communication amongst all staff members.”

    -Interests and achievements :• Keep this section short and to the point. As you grow older, your employment record will take precedence and interests will typically diminish greatly in length and importance.
    • Bullets can be used to separate interests into different types: sporting, creative etc.
    • Don’t use the old boring cliches here: “socialising with friends”.
    • Don’t put many passive, solitary hobbies (reading, watching TV, stamp collecting) or you may be perceived as lacking people skills. If you do put these, than say what you read or watch: “I particularly enjoy Dickens, for the vivid insights you get into life in Victorian times”.
    • Show a range of interests to avoid coming across as narrow : if everything centres around sport they may wonder if you could hold a conversation with a client who wasn’t interested in sport.
    • Hobbies that are a little out of the ordinary can help you to stand out from the crowd: skydiving or mountaineering can show a sense of wanting to stretch yourself and an ability to rely on yourself in demanding situations
    • Any interests relevant to the job are worth mentioning: current affairs if you wish to be a journalist; a fantasy share portfolio such as Bullbearings if you want to work in finance.
    • Any evidence of leadership is important to mention: captain or coach of a sports team, course representative, chair of a student society, scout leader: “As captain of the school cricket team, I had to set a positive example, motivate and coach players and think on my feet when making bowling and field position changes, often in tense situations”
    • Anything showing evidence of employability skills such as teamworking, organising, planning, persuading, negotiating etc.

    -Skills :• The usual ones to mention are languages (good conversational French, basic Spanish), computing (e.g. “good working knowledge of MS Access and Excel, plus basic web page design skills” and driving (“full current clean driving licence”).
    • If you are a mature candidate or have lots of relevant skills to offer, a skills-based CV may work for you

    -References:• Normally two referees are sufficient: one academic (perhaps your tutor or a project supervisor) and one from an employer (perhaps your last part-time or summer job). See our page on Choosing and Using Referees for more help with this.

    Thanks & regards,
    Pravakara Kumar Paramanik
    Officer-Medical Records
    Neotia Getwel Healthcare Centre
    Uttorayon
    Matigara
    Siliguri-734010
    District-Darjeeling
    Westbengal
    India

  9. zigmoon

    Jun 27th, 2013

    Hey, i’m french designer
    The best models of presentation to stand out 10 years of experience in graphic design and ergonomics to serve an essential communication tool. Find an internship, a job, improve your career. A resume is required to candidate for a job. Do to a huge amount of applications, we have made different models of high-impact resumes.

    http://zigmoon.com/products-page/

    Best regards,
    Simon.

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