Shifting Careers: Finding a UX Design Job When You Have No Experience
The goal of recruiting is to match the best talent with the best jobs. This can be a challenge for many candidates who encounter problems in the traditional recruitment process. From human bias to trouble finding suitable jobs, searching for a new role is never easy. This becomes double the struggle when you are also looking to shift careers.
This is the situation Darya found herself in. As a career journalist, she became tired of the field she was in and began looking for a change. UX design was the direction she wanted to take her career in and she shared with us her story of how PitchMe helped her land a UX designer job at a Revolut.
When I look at your career journey what strikes my attention is that you have a journalist background. Now you are a UX designer. Can you tell me a bit, about how did it happen?
I studied journalism in Moscow and then worked in the field for the Moscow News, BBC, Forbes, and RBC. After establishing a career, I completed my masters in the UK. When I was studying in the UK I got the news that RBC, an independent publishing house I had previously worked for in Russia, was experiencing significant pressure. In my opinion, this meant the end of its independence from the government. Journalism in Russia was becoming vulnerable and any future career trajectory for me was not look pleasant. It is still possible to do journalism and stay independent from the government, as some of my brave colleagues do, but it is not easy at all. Journalism is also a language-dependent profession and I was highly aware that it would be an incredible struggle to become a journalist in another language.
Design has always been a passion of mine and tied into my journalism. I tried writing about design specifications, for example, interviewed Philippe Starck when I was a lifestyle editor at Forbes, and then I focused on the tech industry.
I was covering product launches and business news, and interviewing people in tech, for example, Jack Ma or Jan Koum, therefore I already had some background knowledge of product development in tech. So, I started learning about tech and design while I was still working, with the intention to make this my future career.
It was not a straightforward transition from journalist to UX designer. To start with, I did not find a UX design job the “normal” way. I did not not go through the traditional education to receive a degree. Instead, I followed my interest in design journalism and taught myself the skills I need through online courses and short-term offline courses (three months of learning product design on the program launched by Badoo, typography and graphic design at the School of Visual Arts and Parsons in NYC) and working on freelance projects.
Do you think that your journalist background helps you in your UX profession?
There is a surprising amount of crossover between the two fields. As a journalist I was interviewing people, which required soft skills and empathy. With UX design, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the user, to create products that they can enjoy and easily understand. The connection with people and empathy that I gained from journalism, therefore, became vital skills in my tool belt when designing. Communication is a huge part of being a UX designer. You spend a lot of time finding a common language with developers, managers, and other people within the company, so teamwork and communication skills are also transferable.
Both fields also require logical thinking. Knowing the right questions to ask and what information you need to gather are essential. As a journalist, I was asking questions about products I knew little or nothing about and was not afraid to ask the stupid questions needed to get information for an article. The same thing happens in UX, sometimes you have to ask stupid questions to really be able to understand the product, its aims, and what users are going to gain from it.
What was the biggest struggle in your career shifting?
Doubt. Should I pursue that?
I was not starting out in journalism, I have established myself as a journalist and already dedicated a chunk of my life to my career. If I changed career paths and became a UX designer, would I simply be flushing all that hard work down the toilet? However, I was also curious to see a new side of myself and follow a passion I have which helped me overcome my doubt.
What would be your advice to a career changer?
Don’t make the decision lightly. Think about it from all angles. You may have an idealistic view of a career but speaking to people already in the field can help you get a clear picture of what day-to-day life will be like.
Ask yourself if you are ready for this kind of shift in your life? Do your current skills mean that you would be an in-demand candidate in the field you would like to go into? Are you open to criticism? If you are already in an established career, are you ready to take a pay cut? Do you have savings in place to help support yourself through this shift?
Also, you should not give up. It will take time to find the right job in a new field and you may have to go through some rejection. If this is really what you want, keep trying and you will be able to find a way to make it work.
What methods of job search were you using before PitchMe?
My first full-time UX design job was at an agency in New York and the person who hired me found me through my portfolio on Dribbble. In a creative field, having a portfolio is very important and can help you find work. There are many ways beyond traditional recruiters to start looking for work in a new field and you have to keep trying until you find what works for you.
In New York, I used Shapr, an app that is like Tinder but for making professional connections rather than romantic ones. I met a lot of cool designers and developers through the app and built up my industry network. The advice and tips they gave me were invaluable in improving my CV and portfolio, and their support helped get me referrals and clients.
I also focused on building a design portfolio. I was putting my work on Dribbble and made a website on Squarespace with case studies so I always had a quick place to direct people to if they wanted to check out my designs.
Do you think that your CV represents your skills?
It can be difficult to encompass all that you are onto a CV. My CV did not stand out particularly. Instead, I put my focus on my portfolio which I think better represented my skills and abilities.
When I was writing my CV I got advice from friends, some of whom had worked in recruitment. They told me things like use as many buzzwords as possible but I felt this was inflating what was being said and appeared ingenuine so I did not take this advice.
What appealed to you about PitchMe? Did you find the signup process easy?
Yes, it was very straightforward. Two clicks and I was all done and the interface is very friendly.
Did you enjoy not having to apply for UX design jobs, rather PitchMe matching you to employers?
It was great. I think it takes a lot of the stress out of the job search and can stop you from applying for every job out there and taking any job that is offered, rather than helping you wait for the right role and company.
Do you think being presented anonymously helped you avoid bias from employers based on your previous career path?
This is quite likely. In tech and journalism communities, it can often be about who you know rather than what you know. People hire their friends and relatives, and using this anonymous recruiting can help companies bring in the most skilled workers and fuel innovation. The anonymity also helps bring diversity.
What do you think was the best aspect of the PitchMe platform?
PitchMe has a crafted selection of jobs. Rather than overwhelming you with too many options, the platform has jobs from companies that PitchMe works closely with. This allows you to find a job that is suited to you. The support was also excellent. The team was incredibly friendly with me through the whole process, giving advice and pushing me forward. PitchMe helped me to keep motivated and find a role that I love.
How long did it take you to get hired?
The recruitment process took an average length of time. It was neither faster nor slower than my experience. Recruitment has so many moving parts, from the recruiter and the company that you cannot expect it to be lightning-fast but communication was excellent throughout and I always knew where we were in the process.
Can you tell me a bit more about your new role?
I now work as a product designer at Revolut. I started recently, only about a month ago.
How are you finding the position?
It is an extremely exciting opportunity. I am excited to learn and grow there and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Matching top performing candidates with exceptional career opportunities requires a high level of recruiting skills. Many recruiters these days have become little more than customer service agents, trying to fill jobs quickly and take their commission. When you are a candidate looking to shift careers or make a big change in your profession, having a recruiter by your side who can craft a custom solution based on your current skillset and analyse where you can train and build skills results in a win-win for both candidates and companies.
When entering a new field such as UX design, with no background in the discipline, your job search can quickly become disheartening. However, using the new recruitment technologies such as PitchMe offers you the chance to find a job in your desired field that will give you a high level of job satisfaction. The skilled recruiters on the team, plus the tried and tested algorithm of our platform ensure that you are only put forward for jobs that are highly compatible with your skills and personality.
Could you be our next success story? Sign up now!