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September 2016 – Tom Cotterill
UXswitch spoke exclusively to top UX Recruiter Tom Cotterill. He advises first-time UXers and Junior designers to think of Permanent Roles instead of Contract roles for a number of key reasons.
Focus on Permanent Roles to Begin With
Don’t get me wrong if you get a good Contract offer, take it. But to really get that early career development, Permanent roles are the way to go. If you have ambitions to work your way up to a “Head of UX” or a senior UX contractor, ideally you have to earn your stripes in a Permanent role for reasons such as;
- Client interaction, stakeholder management, pitching, presentations etc.
- End to end process/project experience.
- Opportunities to be mentored and to mentor others, resulting in developing your own leadership experience.
- Commitment to your craft, showing you’re aren’t just motivated by money but by the work you produce.
- Good scope to introduce your own ideas and solutions ranging from conception stages through to production
Being new into the UX industry, I’d strongly recommend you focus most of your attention on directly applying to companies instead of using external recruiters. Many UX courses team up with sponsoring companies who will also recruit directly from the course. I tend to find companies don’t use recruitment agencies for junior posts the majority of the time. Junior posts tend to be less niche and there is a high range of candidates to choose from. Therefore, it doesn’t always make sense for a company to pay a recruiter fee for someone at that level, sometimes. Indeed, join UXswitch to improve your prospects.
Network, Network, Network
Attending industry events are great for boosting knowledge as well as meeting people in the industry who otherwise you wouldn’t meet. This will open doors for you and unearth new opportunities. UX is like life, it’s often about who you know instead of what you know. Meet ups also help get your name out there, which is a massive boost if you do eventually decide to go contracting or further down your career. Companies love candidates who show passion and go out of their way to network and make an effort to contribute to the industry.
Do You Want a Job or a Career?
With some exceptions, the majority of contracts for junior UXers will be production focused i.e. being instructed to produce wireframes or graphics. Having a wider career goal in mind is key before you accept a lucrative contract gig over a permanent role. In the longer term, you may actually put yourself at a disadvantage. Today’s top earning contractors have earned their stripes in permanent roles, having gained experience in multiple areas of UX and can do more than just produce wireframes or prototypes.
Before you Accept that Job …
I don’t think you should rush a decision into your first UX role. This is because your first role is your platform to get to bigger and better things. Before moving into a role you should consider;
- The companies buy-in to UX, do they even know what good UX really is about or is it seen as just functional?
- Will you have exposure to the whole UX process?
- Team size, do you want to be part of a large or smaller UX team?
- What projects the company has in store for you to work on. Are they juicy enough? Do they give you an opportunity for a good portfolio piece? Do you have a variety to expand your experience?
- Culture. Make sure you get a good feel of the working environment, go out for a beer with the team if possible. Get comfortable.
- Make sure you know who your reporting line is going to be.
- Travel. Make sure you’re not travelling 4-5 hours a day, sustainability is key for the long term.
- Will you be attractive to companies after this role?
No Role is Perfect
If this is going to be your first commercial, full-time role as a UXer it may not necessarily need to tick every single box listed above. It just needs to give you that foot in the door and gain some design pedigree on your CV/resume as a bona fide UXer. This may then allow you to use it as a stepping stone towards another job you really want in the future but currently lack experience for, including the world of contracting/freelancing.
Tom Cotterill is a User Experience Recruiter at Source LF in London with a huge passion for Psychology and Personal Development. He has a genuine interest in everything UX, attending courses, reading books and helping put together events that the UX industry is interested in.
Source link https://www.uxswitch.com/youre-newly-certified-ux-designer-next/