Photo: Eugene Chystiakov
Hi. I am Karthik from India. I am looking for senior UX designer position within India and worldwide (remote/full-time). I have applied for tens of positions as of now, but none have received attention. I shared my resume without samples; should I change my strategy and share my portfolio as a PDF too? I’m sharing my Behance link now, isn’t that enough? Doubt is growing inside me and I’m questioning my UX skills. What is the best strategy to get an employer/recruiter’s attention?
Hi Karthik. A couple of things I want to say here:
First, a resume without samples is a guaranteed recipe for rejection.
There is no way any recruiter or hiring manager will contact you without seeing your work — and details about the context of that work — in advance.
Look at it from their perspective: they likely have hundreds of people they’re considering at the outset, which means potentially hundreds of decisions to make as to whether to even call or email that candidate. Time is at a premium for these people. So they’re looking to make their lives easier, and that means cutting out anything up-front that doesn’t meet bare-minimum requirements. So those submissions without portfolios get the axe immediately.
The reason Behance isn’t doing anything for you is because it’s little more than a glorified art gallery. If you’re applying for an entry-level or junior visual/UI design position, that’s fine. But to be considered for a UX position — especially a senior position — you have to do a LOT more than show pretty pictures of your work.
You have to explain how and why the work you’ve done in the past delivered positive, measurable results — particularly for your employer at the time:
- How did you make them look like heroes?
- What value did your work deliver to their client that enabled this (think: made/saved them money)?
- What problems did you set out to solve?
- Did you solve them?
- How did you do that?
These are the stories they want to hear, and you have to tell them. They need to see proof — at first contact — that when other employers trusted you to deliver value on their behalf, you did so.
Second, you’ll get a lot more attention with a portfolio website than you will with a PDF.
While I do not believe UXers or Designers must know how to code, I absolutely do believe that having your own website checks a box for potential employers in your favor. It says “I have working knowledge of the development part.” And getting that across is a bare-minimum requirement.
To that recruiter or hiring manager, only having a PDF (and links to sites like Behance) suggests that you are either (1) not capable of designing and putting up your own website, or (2) too lazy to do so. Both of those things, even if they’re untrue, will be assumed, and those assumptions will ensure you’re ignored.
So it’s on you to make sure the person on the other end has so much information that they won’t have to assume anything. In the age of WordPress, Wix, UXfolio and any number of ridiculously easy-to-use platforms, not having your own portfolio site is unacceptable.
When you’re looking for a job, your number one task at the outset is to eliminate doubt in the mind of the recruiter or hiring manager considering you. To do that, especially when applying for senior-level positions, you have to show that you know the terrain; that you’ve been there, done the work and achieved great things for both your previous employers and their clients (or for your clients, if you freelance).
So put in the time and effort required to design and build a portfolio site that does this, that tells your stories in a way that speaks not to what you can do, but what you can do for them.
And follow up! When you apply, if you haven’t heard back after a week, message that person again to confirm they received your application and examples, and ask if they have any questions about what they see. Re-affirm what you think you can help them accomplish, what you and you alone can do for them that other applicants can’t. Don’t be afraid to be the proverbial “squeaky wheel” (within reason), because these folks have a lot on their plates, and the stuff they pay most attention to is the stuff they see most often.
Finally, and most importantly, don’t give up.
The silence and rejection is hard, but it’s part of the deal. You have to take the hits and keep getting up, keep putting yourself out there until you land where you belong.
It won’t be easy, but as long as you do everything in your power to demonstrate that YOU are the right choice — and you refuse to give up — it will come.