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ux jobs advice

July 2016 – Jay Kaufmann

In his series of articles on UX careers, Jay Kaufmann gives tips to candidates from the hiring-manager perspective. This time: how to handle rejection. As he points out, thinking about statistics and cultural fit will make you feel a whole lot better.

Some lessons take a long time to learn.

I started designing over 25 years ago, and now and then I have been on the receiving end of a call or email telling me that I did not get the job.

I used to wonder “What did I say wrong in the interview?” or “How could I make my portfolio better represent my skills?

More recently I’ve spent a lot of time hiring researchers and designers. Only after several years of being on the other end of rejection did the lesson really sink in: When you get turned down, there’s a bigger picture. It’s about the company and their needs.

It’s not about you.

Some lessons are disguised as clichés.

A standard sentence in the rejection letter I send is: “Please understand that this decision does not reflect on your abilities, but rather on our current requirements.” It sounds like a platitude and it reads like a template letter, because it is a template letter. But it expresses my own heartfelt advice.

Why should you believe the clichéd platitude? Let me try to put some depth behind it.

Some lessons are learned best in dialog.

When I turn down UX candidates, I try to explain one or two things I liked, and one or two things I think they can improve on. I will sometimes also explain what roles we are most actively seeking at the moment and why we don’t see them in that role.

Usually, I receive positive feedback – especially to my negative feedback. Sometimes I hear my younger self in their responses: “How could I improve my application to be successful next time?”. You can always improve, and should always learn from disappointment, but interestingly your growth might not change the particular outcome.

One or two times I have also heard candidates wonder why I couldn’t clearly see their skills. Maybe I didn’t. I’m human; I can make mistakes. But the majority of the time it’s because I am looking at the bigger picture. I want to help designers grow individually, but they also need to fit into the larger organizational structure, push forward the design strategy, and fulfil concrete customer needs.

Some lessons can be read from the numbers.

For a single position, a company interviews several candidates.

In big companies with pool hiring or multiple openings, the same holds true. In fact, for multiple positions, the effect can even be exponential. In the past 9 months of UX hiring in Zalando Tech we made offers to 1% of UX applicants. Google, at the extreme, was hiring only about 0.2% of all applicants in 2014, according to Quartz. Even in a tight hiring market — an excellent market for designers — a company is not going to hire every good designer.

The nature of a hiring funnel is more bad news than good. Maybe the statistics provide some consolation. Numbers wise, you are in good company.

Some lessons come from switching perspective.

Put yourself in the company’s shoes.

As hiring managers, we’re not just looking for the best, we’re also looking for company fit: Both culturally and professionally, both toward diversity and toward alignment.

In terms of diversity (“complementary fit”, in the organizational psychology literature), the company may be seeking someone with a different background (educational, professional, cultural) than what they currently have. A good hiring manager is not looking for a Mini-Me, but someone different. This might explain why you felt a great rapport but didn’t get this job.

In terms of alignment (“supplementary fit”), hiring teams seek candidates that match their company’s corporate values. As Mark Murphy told Forbes, “Companies want attitudes that perfectly match their unique culture. Google and Apple are both great companies, but their cultures are as different as night and day.” Motivation and effective design work will depend on cultural fit. This might explain why you have the necessary skills, but do not fit with the company’s DNA.

Some lessons come from letting go.

The points above might answer some of your questions. Or they might not.

In the end it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to know.

You just need to pick out one or two things to learn from the experience and move on to the next application. Trust that this wasn’t the best route to your future and apply to the next job with a focus on the best personal fit for the next step in your career.

On your side, there is a bigger picture, as well.

And it is — in the end — about you.


Source link https://www.uxswitch.com/rejection-its-not-about-you-honestly/


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