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Top 10 things hiring managers look for in resumes - UX Research
Getting your resume in shape for UX Research roles
It’s the new year, a time when people start to think about making changes. I’ve reviewed hundreds of UX Research resumes. I wanted to share some things specific to the role that are critical to include to make your application stronger. When thinking about your resume, put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and what they might be looking for.
1. Show project impact without giving away competitive information
Balance showing what you have done without revealing the business strategy of your current company. Usually, prospective managers are not that interested in confidential information. By revealing too much information, you risk demonstrating a lack of ethics and your own personal code of conduct. A hiring manager or recruiter will be more interested in what you achieved in the project and how you moved it forward.
An interesting article on impact to help you frame your work.
2. Demonstrate your skills throughout the resume itself with visual and clear communication
Sometimes skills are easier demonstrated than talked about. If you want to show that you are good at communication - every item should show that - your resume, portfolio, LinkedIn and website. Visual and written communication are both important skills that a UX researcher should have.
You can show this by - clear headings, ordering of information with most important information first.
Treat the construction of your resume as guiding the reader to the best parts of your experience. Think about what the reader might be interested in and prioritise that.
Examples of visual communication in a resume - appropriate use of fonts, headers, colours, icons (if needed). It’s less about doing full-on design work in the resume itself and more about making it readable and scannable. Your reader, the hiring manager will be looking through potentially hundreds of resumes. They will need to quickly ascertain whether to shortlist an applicant or reject them.
3. List out your research methods - and be prepared to talk about them and their application
The interviewer will be gauging your understanding of various research methods. They will also want to assess your experience of applying them appropriately. It’s always good to list your methods. Your portfolio can complement your resume by showing the application of various methods. Simply listing a research method is too often generic to ascertain skill level in a resume. A good interviewer will want to look into it further.
4. Keep it succinct and below 3 pages (ideally 2)
There is a temptation to include everything. It’s also hard to trim a resume right down but imagine there is a limited attention span. I spoke to a recruiter and they advised me of this one and I would agree. Everyone is time-poor. A reviewer will likely be scanning first and then diving deep if the resume is interesting.
5. Know what should be in the resume vs your research portfolio
From the point above - use your research portfolio to share details of the end to end process of your projects. Keep in mind the point above of keeping out confidential information. Use your resume to talk about impact. Most interviewers aren’t too interested in the findings and the proprietary information but the process. Why did you do what you did in that project? Ask yourself and make a mental note of what could have been done better on the project.
6. Compare the job ad with your resume and ensure there’s alignment
There’s the obvious like scanning your resume against the job ad to make sure you have a good parallel of what they are asking for. Match things like terminology or titling e.g user researcher vs ux researcher. It seems painful but the first person looking at your recruiter is likely to be a recruiter and they will go for the easiest and obvious matches first.
7. Include tools but ultimately understanding methods is more important and tools can be learned
There is a vast range of research tools and sometimes they tend to be more trend-based. A good understanding of research methods is more important. If you are a good researcher and understand the fundamentals, it should be relatively easy to pick up a new research tool. You can list tools but if you do have other more information like impact or project details I would prioritise that.
8. Order your information to most important at the top - design the resume to be scannable
Similar to the point above, create your resume in a way that it can be read quickly or in-depth. It ensures that the essential parts of your experience get read. It also demonstrates your ability to succinctly communicate in the form of your resume.
9. Minimise use of phrases, jargon and acronyms, particularly if it’s internal - or spell it out
When creating a resume it should be as easy to read as possible. If the recruiter or hiring manager has to Google or guess what the acronym is they are likely to move onto a more straight-forward-to read resume. Sometimes those project names are internal and won’t have any meaning or context externally. Skip the internal naming and use plain language. It’s not a great idea to be discussing internal terms with people outside of your organisation. It can give people doubt on whether as an individual you know what is appropriate to discuss inside and outside of your company.
10. Include projects AND processes
The more senior you are, the more expectations that a UX Researcher will be doing more than just project work. It might include things like creating research processes, training people, templates. An experienced researcher should have more impact organisationally, as well as completing large scale projects.
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