No, really, I am so awesome!
May 27, 2009 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Hints for punching above my weight in the job search? Particular focus is UX/IxD/IA work.

Like may folks, I am looking for work these days, and most of the positions I am finding are a little beyond my situation: They want either 3+ years experience or a masters and 1 year. I have not quite 2 years in these types of positions, and 9 overall.

The thing is I am, like every other person out there I am sure, a really quick learner and a very capable thinker. I taught myself this stuff and anyone who worked with me would attest my knowledge is strong and my ability to figure shit out is awesome. I know I can do a lot of these jobs, but how do I get them to let me tell them that?
posted by dame to Work & Money (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm an IA. You should subscribe to SIG-IA and the IA Institute email lists if you don't already. (Archives for the former are online.) Also the IxDA list--archives also online.

What you'd be told on any of those lists is that you have to have a portfolio. Web is obviously best; printouts will work too if it's not an agency. If I was interviewing you and you had a portfolio for which you could tell me your thinking, and all the stories about how and why you designed things the way you did, I'd overlook any n-year requirement. Those are mostly about weeding out the just-graduated.

You can easily punch above your weight in the above scenario, because if you know what you're talking about--and can adeptly face clients--it really doesn't matter how much experience you have. Sure, more experience gives you more confidence and tools from which to draw, but years aren't the only ways to gain those things.

If by punching above your weight you mean you're going out for managerial/supervisory jobs and you don't have enough of that type of administrative experience, I don't think there are special loopholes to getting through those things. However, our particular job market is not suffering as much as others, at least from what I've seen.

Good luck!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:55 PM on May 27, 2009


That may be the most thorough first answer I've ever gotten. Thanks.

If I was interviewing you and you had a portfolio for which you could tell me your thinking, and all the stories about how and why you designed things the way you did, I'd overlook any n-year requirement.

Do you mean you would want to see all those stories in the portfolio itself or just a portfolio that I am able to speak about well? I do have one (on the web!) but the descriptions are fairly terse.

If by punching above your weight you mean you're going out for managerial/supervisory jobs

No, I just mean the experience requirements. People always say they are flexible, but I was unclear on how much or what I would need to do to get a hearing despite them.
posted by dame at 5:11 PM on May 27, 2009


Nope, definitely wouldn't need to see all the stories in the portfolio. If you could manage that, you'd be a wizard of representing huge amounts of data with visual design--another Edward Tufte. (Get hold of his books if you haven't already.)

When I interview someone I want to know all the thinking behind what they're showing me. Something along the lines of what problem the client said they had, what problem you observed (if different), what research you did, what you know to be true about x and y and z (whether the company or the industry or the market for software/games/applications/sites etc), and what you've learned from experience about what you think is the best approach. Then I would also want to know how you would present your solution to the client--especially if I thought that solution wouldn't be well received or would need some couching for difficult clients or what have you. That kind of thing.

And when you're talking and telling me your stories and your thinking, that's when I get a sense of how you deal with people interpersonally. How/whether you'd be good with clients. How you'd deal with fellow team members, developers, business analysts, visual designers, product managers, marketing folks. Because that's really the meat of this profession, in my opinion. Well, that, and all the problem solving!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:39 PM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do IA work, or I used to, and I hire a lot of XD people, who used to be called UX people, who used to be called UD people, who used to be called IE's... and by the way these are all lame acronyms that imply a level of cookie-cutter job that doesn't exist in any two places at the same time anyway, but that's a tangent....

Like IOD (heh) says, I don't care about your portfolio qua portfolio. I really don't. You know which applicants have a pretty and impressive looking portfolio? Absolutely every one.

All I care about is how you explain it, how you talk about it. Tell me about each project, the easy parts and the hard parts, the challenges and the compromises. Tell me what the problems were, and walk me through how you solved them.

There's a portfolio open on the table during this conversation... or maybe on the screen... but I'm barely glancing at it. I'm much more interested in how you think.

Anybody can click a mouse button.
posted by rokusan at 6:12 PM on May 27, 2009


You guys are totally fantastic. I've never marked every answer as best before, but they are exactly what I needed to know. Thanks a million times over.
posted by dame at 6:29 AM on May 28, 2009


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