Join Cory Lebson for an in-depth discussion in this video UX generalist or specialist?, part of Planning a Career in User Experience.
- As you search for jobs, you may in fact find that any number of UX related career tracks are stuffed together into a UX job description. There could be so many career tracks and related skills included that you may wonder whether it's worth trying to specialize at all. When the job market seemingly requires a UX unicorn. A generalist, who can do it all. Don't strive to be a unicorn. Senior level UX practitioner jobs are going to require expertise, and to be an expert in all aspects of UX, while not utterly impossible, is still going to be pretty difficult to achieve.
So what should you do? If you're at the very beginning of your career and are not sure where you want to ultimately end up, then by all means, you can find an internship or an entry level job that let's you do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Providing you with ample opportunities for different experiences and learning. But try to figure out relatively quickly what most intrigues you and what you're naturally good at. The intersection of those two elements is where you should focus your initial expertise.
Gradually, over time, you can develop more areas of expertise among other career tracks too. Perhaps a second or even after more time a third. A high level of expertise in an area however, will only get you so far, if you disassociate yourself from any other aspect of UX. At a minimum, as you gain one, two, or even three areas of core expertise over time. Make sure that you not only understand the big UX picture, but also keep yourself up to date on what is happening in the field as a whole.
Look beyond your areas of specialization. Read blogs and new books, listen to podcasts, attend UX events, not only to learn from the actual speakers but to normalize and maintain your UX knowledge by interacting with your peers. And by all means, even as you specialize, it's okay to still dabble in other areas as well. In order to explore and to continue to better your offerings on the job market. So let's assume that over time, you have found your niche and specialized your UX skills while still understanding the big picture, and perhaps, even dabbling in some other aspect of UX.
What should you do when you find a job description that's looking for that unicorn. An experienced UX professional with expertise in many areas of UX. It may be that the company really hopes to find a unicorn and they will likely end up quite frustrated that they can't find this perfect candidate. Or it may be that they threw everything into the job description. Every career track, every type of skill that they want but then expect that realistically, they're going to be finding candidates with some, but not all of those skills.
When you find those unicorn job descriptions explain to employers that you do have particular areas of expertise that are described in the job posting. And explain how you're able to apply these expert skills. You're portfolio, along with your resume, will give you the opportunity to elaborate on these areas of expertise in story form. Whether you are explaining work samples verbally or providing text descriptions around work samples that you post online. You will be able to illustrate your background and explain what you did.
And what skills you used. Why you chose to take that path, how you were able to accomplish your goals and ultimately how this helped achieve overall project success. But simultaneous to explain to your expert level skills, don't be afraid to tell a potential employer where you are not as skilled or where you may have only dabbled in the past. While it's certainly good form to express a willingness to learn new skills along the way, you don't want to set expectations inappropriately by claiming skills that you don't have.
If you happen to be an employer yourself and are looking for UX candidates, no matter how much you'd like one person to do it all. Don't ask for a unicorn. If you had more than one career pathway represented in your job description try to describe, at least in general terms, what percentage of time will be spent within each area. And do your best to use specific job titles that describe associated career tracks. I will help you draw in the appropriate areas of expertise.
In this course, UX expert Cory Lebson breaks down the sub-disciplines of user experience (the trifecta of design, research, and strategy), so you can learn about the different jobs that align with your strengths and passions. Cory helps you understand job responsibilities as well as the benefits of working full-time for a company vs. consulting or freelancing. With his guidance, you can create a more compelling resume and portfolio package and make sure that you properly brand yourself as a UX professional.
This course offers focused career advice for job seekers, tips for recruiters and employers who want to better understand UX, and a necessary framework for grad/undergrad students exploring the next step in their career. Along the way, Cory highlights training in the library to build specific UX skills.
- What is UX?
- Should you be a UX generalist or a specialist?
- Available UX career types: design, research, and strategy
- Working in-house, consulting, or freelancing
- Telling a story with a portfolio and resume
- Working with recruiters