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Resume Tips for Designers

A few years ago, I was the first speaker invited to the User Experience Club at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). I wanted to impart some words of wisdom to the students, who were trying to break into UX. I gave the following presentation.

While many hiring managers just want to focus on your online portfolio, you may never get your first interview unless you invest time in writing a good resume.

Let’s review some practical tips and tricks for writing a killer UX resume.

Tip #1: Write for Couple of Audiences

Your resume will get read by recruiters, hiring managers, potential co-workers, and a computer. Each audience is looking for specific information.

  • Recruiters: They want to know if you are a match for the job openings they already have in their pipeline.  Recruiters want to know if you are a good fit for what their clients need.
  • Hiring Managers: They want to know if you have the skills needed to do the job.  Plus, they want to know how your previous work has impacted the bottom line of a company.
  • Potential Co-Workers. They want to know about your skills, past experiences, tools you use, people you know, organizations you participate in, and your education.
  • Computers: Many companies put your resume into a job bank. These systems will scan your resume and search for keywords. Recruiters s and HR people get report of acceptable candidates based on keywords.

You should write your resume with this knowledge in mind.

Tip #2: Explain How You Affected the Bottom Line

Duty-based resumes are awful!

These resumes tell you what a person did at their last job. They read like re-purposed job descriptions.  Here is an example of a duty-based resume:

  • At XYZ company, I redesigned the company website. I performed sketching, wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing. The launch was successful.

The above information is technically correct, but it lacks the punch of how this work affect the bottom line. Here is an example of a bottom-line resume:

  • Redesigned the XYZ company site leading to 20% conversion increase
  • Sketched 50 different ideas for the product page alone
  • Performed low-fidelity usability test with wireframes with major clients
  • Uncovered 27 usability issues, which were fixed prior to initial launch

The bottom-line approach gives your work significance and illustrates how you made an impact for the company.

Tip #3: Use Names and Numbers in Your Resume

People scan resumes to look for interesting information. They look for familiar names or interesting numbers. These small factoids give them insights into potential candidates.

You can have many different types of names in your resume:

  • Companies: show the firms you have worked with in the past
  • Organizations: illustrate how you see yourself or where you learn
  • Mentors: show the caliber of people who educate you
  • Projects: describe the importance of the work you have done

Numbers are equally important. They make your resume resonate:

  • Percentages: show the impact you have made to a project
  • Savings: illustrates how you saved time or money
  • Increases: measure how you made money for the company
  • Raw number: shows the magnitude of your accomplishments

People enjoy (and remember) names and numbers. They help to tell your story.

Tip #4: Your Resume and Linked-In are Complimentary

You must have a resume that matches your Linked-In profile. People want to see different information on your resume than your LinkedIn profile. They are complimentary pieces of information, which are tied together in very subtle ways.

On LinkedIn, people will look at your profile to:

  1. See recommendations from other people on specific jobs
  2. Review how other people rank your skill sets
  3. Read your Pulse articles or slides from Slideshare
  4. Check out your past work history
  5. Review your connections and professional groups

With your resume, people want to move beyond the LinkedIn profile:

  1. Specifics about projects you have done
  2. Ways you have affected the bottom line
  3. Different tools, tactics, and techniques you have used

Your resume and LinkedIn profile should have matching dates, job titles, and company names. In many respects, you should view your resume and Linkedin profile as complimentary pieces of information.

Tip #5: Provide Plenty of Links in Your Resume

Your resume should have several links beyond the link to your portfolio site. You should include links to:

  • Send you an email
  • Review your LinkedIn profile
  • Open your portfolio site
  • Go to previous companies where you have worked

Many hiring managers will just scan a resume to click on these links. If they like what they see on these different sites, your resume receives more credibility. They many actually read it.

Let me know of other resume tips and tricks for UX designers!

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