31 May 2021

Switching careers from Graphic Design to UX Design: how I landed my first UX Design job

Blog Post - Switching Careers - Landing Job Cover
Note: This is the second part of my career progression into the UX industry as a graphic designer. The first part can be viewed here.

Having completed 2 out 3 projects from my bootcamp, I was eager to start preparing and sending out resumes in hopes to land a job before my course ends. This was a challenge as I always believed that I needed all 3 of my case studies to be ready before I can begin this process.

With only 2 case studies ready, is this achievable? Here’s how I landed my first UX/UI Designer job before finishing my bootcamp.

Start your portfolio early

Tip: Showcase your case studies on Medium whenever you complete them. That way, it’s still fresh in your mind when you compile them and all you have to do is transfer your written case study onto your personal website whenever you’re ready to start building it.

What website builder should you use?

There are plenty to choose from, I personally used Webflow but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are new to web development. Here are website builders that can get you started with your online portfolio:

  1. Squarespace — Drag and drop blocks with beautiful templates to choose from. The website builder might be more restricted as they are made of grids (I personally prefer the gridded structure). They also have a live chat support in case you need help with anything.
  2. Wix — Wix has more templates than Squarespace but Squarespace has better templates. If you prefer to move elements freely in your website builder, Wix might be what you are looking for. Being able to freely move elements can be frustrating as you will spend more time fiddling with minor placements which might not be impactful to the end result. You might also have edit the mobile version of your website as it won’t translate smoothly.
  3. Wordpress— If you have a bit more experienced, Wordpress offers great templates (additional cost may apply) but lack support should you need help. The support system is depending on the template you purchase.

Overall I would personally recommend Squarespace’s structured editor, as it’s a more mature website builder and the functions are sufficient to showcase your work to your potential employer.

While you’re building your portfolio, showcase any work that is relevant to Design Thinking — I made a mistake in removing all my previous Visual Design work and only uploaded my new UX case studies. What I should’ve done was to include them in my portfolio, but write in “learnings and take aways” from my previous work to show how I’ve matured as a Designer.

Preparing for interviews

Switching Careers - Landing Job - Preparing for interviews
Photo by Maranda Vandergriff on Unsplash

Once you have your portfolio ready, it is time to send out your resumes! Be ready for rejection and don’t be discouraged by them 💪.

Here are some tips if you’ve been shortlisted for an interview:

  1. You are the prize — In my first interview, I prepared presentation slides and presented my case studies in the interview. After consulting with my mentor, she told me that I shouldn’t be selling myself. But instead casually chat with the interviewer and only answer what they ask. After all, you are the prize and they should also tell you why they want you.
  2. Leave the details out— When asked to talk about your case studies, just give a high-level overview of what solution you came up with to solve the problem. Employers don’t need to know exactly what method you used to achieve the results unless they requested the information.
  3. Research, research, research — Do lots of research on what questions are typically asked in UX job interviews. YouTube has a good collection of these and were very useful in helping me prepare and practice on my answers. It is also useful to look up the company on LinkedIn or Instagram to understand the work culture and clients you’ll be working with in the company.
  4. Prepare questions — Ask questions at the end of your interview. This is important to show that you came prepared and are genuinely interested in finding out more about the role or company. Some questions I recommend asking would be “What’s the UX maturity of the company?” and “How big is the Design team”?
  5. Get feedback — If you don’t get the job, ask for feedback. Most interviewers will gladly provide constructive feedback and this will help you identify opportunities to improve for your next interview. It also worth expressing your interest in connecting with them on LinkedIn in case there’s any future opportunities.
  6. Don’t give up — I went through a number of interviews and started doubting myself if my work was good enough for me to be hired. The first few rejections will be tough. But with perseverance, your resume will land on the right hands in time.

Update your LinkedIn profile

In this day and age, LinkedIn is one of the first places your employer could potentially discover more about you before deciding if you are the right fit for the job. It’s a very useful platform to showcase your experiences and that you are a professional.

Showcase a professional profile image — This is the first impression your employer gets from your LinkedIn. Impress them from the get-go that you care about your work experience and are detailed enough to take a proper profile photo.

Summarise your work experience — List your work history and summarise your role in a few sentences. No one has time to read through 15 bullet points for each job you’ve had. If you have accomplished any achievements within the role, share them!

Write a blog

Switching Careers - Landing Job - Write a blog
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

Designers these days are required to know how to write. Writing demonstrates to your employer that you are a matured Designer and are able to write basic articles. Just pick a random topic (E.g. What motivated you to take up UX? What is User Experience Design? What have you learned so far as a Designer? ANYTHING at all, just start writing in your free time. You’ll be surprise that employers will be impressed that you can write.

Those are basically all I have done that led me to my new job! I hope this article can help and inspire you to land that UX Design job.

I have also completed my bootcamp and here’s a snapshot of our graduation:

UX/UI Transform Course Graduation
UX UI Transform Course Graduation 
UX/UI Transform Course Graduation -  Award
UX UI Transform Course Graduation  - The amazing bunch
UX/UI Transform Course Graduation -  Award
UX UI Transform Course Graduation  - Awards

It has been an amazing learning journey and I hope to work with all of these talented and amazing human beings again soon!

Thank you for reading! Say hello at brianfoong@gmail.com or connect with me on LinkedIn so we can share our experiences and chat about it.