#2: Weekly Digest

The purpose of this newsletter is to help you grow as a designer and human and increase your chances to get hired in UX. While I am trying to form my voice for this newsletter, I will be experimenting with the content strategy, so bear with me 🙏

Disclaimer: all opinions are my own, just sharing my thoughts.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't — you're right.

by Henry Ford

Q: Resume format: standard or creative?

TLDR - standard, but clean and easy to scan, potentially with minor creative elements for the surprise and delight effect, not cluttered and messy.

A tricky question, considering designers want to showcase their creativity, right? =) Here is what I think (for UX/Product designers) - I don’t mind creative formats, however, I haven’t seen a good example that combines creativity with the functional purpose of a resume. I believe that resumes are not great to answer the questions that the hiring folks have in their head when they evaluate applicants. I think this is a pretty bad “deliverable” for this. However, this is what almost every company uses today and you have to adapt to this reality (cases, when you can “wing it” by using an unconventional approach, are exceptions).

From this perspective, the main purpose of a resume is to answer some high-level questions for the person who has a minute to do a quick screening scan of an application - Do key achievements, skills, and responsibilities match the role they are hiring for? Did they work for reputable and known brands/companies (ideally, from the same industry? Are their previous job titles relevant to the role they are hiring for? Do they do job-hopping? Does their experience level match what this job entails? Etc. And these answers have to be consumable in the fastest and easiest format possible (aka a bullet-point list).

Also, very often the first person (recruiter) looking at your resume has very little understanding of your job. They are given a set of characteristics to look for by the hiring manager, which usually has a list of responsibilities and skills. The recruiter’s job here is to match what applicants have on their profile and what the job’s requirements are, and the simplest and fastest way to do this is by scanning through a list (the resume). And with the high number of applicants, they have to go through a lot of sifting, and in most cases sifting through a lot of irrelevant and unqualified applications. It’s a paradox of the job applications - many people do not apply if they see that they don’t check off every job requirement (which is not right, you should), and on the other hand, many other people also apply to everything even remotely relevant (spray and pray approach). This adds more clutter to a recruiter’s to-sift-through list and doesn’t help more qualified candidates. This is a problem.

As a (band-aid) solution to the problem of too-many-unqualified applications, more and more companies are starting to use automated screening tools, which rely on keyword search and matching. Most of them cannot read creatively formatted resumes correctly, and you may be left out if the right keywords did not get enough matches.

However, I think there is a way to find a good balance between the creative resume format and readable and scannable content that the automated systems can decode, as well. It’s a matter of ROI and if all this additional effort (testing and iterating your resume) is really worth it. This is the biggest question. Would you rather spend this extra time working on your own side project? Would you rather learn a new skill? Would you rather build more quality relationships? Considering that resumes are essentially a broken part of the process, is it worth perfecting your temporary resume or invest this time and effort in some more long-term fundamental things?

PS this topic is so big, might do a separate dedicated post later (or a podcast/video).

Top picks

My thoughts on navigating UX career and my journey. I was interviewed for the Collab Collective’s podcast. Listen to the episode.

Onboarding UX teardown (Dropbox). One of the many examples. Samuel Hulick specializes in user onboarding, what’s working and not working, and why. I learnt quite a lot from his teardowns. View post.

What AI will do to the job of a UI/Visual designer. Pretty old (3 years ago?) demo of how Airbnb built a script to generate UI based on whiteboard sketches using their design system. This video was a pivoting moment for me. It helped me realize that the future of designing user interfaces was doomed. If you think of the full UX design process, AI will be replacing steps starting from the last - visual design (aka the icing on the cake). If you want to future proof your UX career, I suggest that you should go more into working with people, strategy, research, and analysis. Leave the final (pixel perfect) UI to the machines. It’s coming. View post.

A thought 🤔

More and more companies are trying to make the remote onboarding experience for their new employees suck less. I am glad that this is happening, as the vast majority still suck. One of the ways they try to do this is by expanding their onboarding “package” and including more nice and (sometimes) delightful goodies (who doesn’t love free goodies? =) This is fantastic and new employees can appreciate the extra love. Of course, they want to share this excitement online and posting photos of these onboarding sets. (Did I tell you I had a business idea a few years ago to make it easy for companies to compile the right onboarding package for their new employees depending on their budget, still think it would be a great product offering, all this ordering and logistics may be quite annoying and I think there will be companies who would want to delegate this burden to a vendor).

Anyways… back to the initial thought - what I am noticing with almost every photo of these onboarding packages is that there are some things present (stickers, mugs, notebooks, etc.) that look very pretty, but they use colour combinations that would not satisfy accessibility standards (e.g. yellow background with white text). I immediately notice these things and decode them as a signal that accessibility and designing inclusive experiences is not a priority at this company. So, these companies that position themselves as modern and innovative, lose a few points in my eyes.