Why landing an entry-level job in UX/UI is (nearly) impossible: Understanding user experience

Breaking into the UX/UI can be difficult if you’re seeking an entry-level role, especially since there aren’t necessarily predefined steps outlining how to become a UX/UI Designer. Whether you’re a college graduate looking to exercise your degree or trying to find a way into tech, the barriers can be debilitating.

So let’s talk for a minute about why getting a job in UX/ UI can be difficult, how you can best represent the work you’re proud of, and what kinds of work will best set you up to start getting job offers. I’m going to break down some common pain-points and explain how hiring managers look at your portfolio, the best ways to find work to build your credibility, and how to leverage your network to find the right job for you. But first, it’s important to understand what UX and UI are.

UX vs. UI

click here User experience design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving a products usability, accessibility, and the pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. User experience design uses what some would consider being left-brain disciplines like human-computer interaction (HCI), user research, interaction design, and information design.

User interface design, on the other hand, is the creation of visually stimulating and consistent user interfaces. This was a natural extension of the UX role as it became more focused on digital products. This discipline has more of a “right-brain” focus, using design principles like visual design, color theory, or typography to make aesthetically appealing user interfaces.

Why it’s hard to find a UX/UI role

As a UX/UI designer, your goal is to create delight by figuring out what your users want and making it happen. The focus on user experience and user-centered design is a relatively new practice in the tech industry. Steve Jobs was one of the first pioneers of UX Design, and his focus on it launched catapulted Apple into the tech titan it is today.

“If the user is having a problem, it’s our problem.” — Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was one of many that proved an important concept, that user-centered design led to innovation and financial return. What followed was a rapid increase in the demand for UX Designers without necessarily understanding what good or bad UX practices were. Businesses interested in getting a competitive edge by investing in UX/UI Design would want to hire experienced professionals instead of those with less experience. This practice leaves many job seekers in a catch-22 situation: being unable to get a job for due to a lack of experience, and being unable to gain experience due to the lack of available entry-level jobs.

From a hiring manager’s perspective, it can be challenging as a hiring manager to know whether or not a candidate is qualified. The role straddles a wafer-thin line separating front-end developers and UI designers. You’ll often find that some UX/UI designers are actually people who started out in a dedicated development or design role but transitioned into a more UX focused role. This inadvertently means that when you put it an application for a UX position, could be competing against both for consideration.

Don’t be discouraged! UX/UI Design is only nearly impossible to break into. If you’re someone without much work experience, that will be your biggest limiting factor. You’ll need to establish some credibility as a UX/UI Designer and the best way to do that is by creating a website portfolio that highlights your strengths and distinguishes you from other applicants. In my next article, I’ll be sharing some tips on how to design a great portfolio that bypasses that catch-22.

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