Land Your First UX Design Job in 2024

Abhi Chatterjee
6 min readFeb 28, 2024

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Image source — https://www.springboard.com/blog/design/what-is-ux-design/

Today, I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process to secure your first job in UX design. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear, simple and proven strategy to land that coveted position. Let’s start with an overview of the process.

The process is divided into two main parts: learning and applying.

In the first part, you’ll focus on acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge.

In the second part, you’ll put those skills into practice by applying for UX design positions.

Step 1 — Learn

Image source — https://elearningindustry.com/digital-learning-ux-design-tips

Learning consists of four key steps:

  1. Understand the foundational concepts of UX design.
  2. Identify your aspirations within the field.
  3. Master the skills necessary to achieve your goals.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the tools and techniques used in UX design.

1. Understand the foundational concepts of UX design

The objective of this step is to build a solid understanding of the core principles that underpin UX design. Just as we start learning mathematics with fundamental concepts like addition, subtraction and multiplication, we need to begin by understanding the basic principles of UX design. This includes learning about UX design itself, UI design, information architecture, user research, accessibility and more.

2. Identify your aspirations within the field

Once you’ve grasped the basic concepts of UX design, it’s time to explore what aspects of UX design you’re most passionate about and what you aspire to become. Whether it’s a UI designer, interaction designer, accessibility expert or usability expert, it’s essential to identify your interests. For instance, I found my passion in interaction design early on. This step is crucial because it helps you focus your learning journey. It’s impossible to master every component of UX design in a short time, even after years of experience. So, choose your passion within UX design and proceed from there.

3. Master the skills necessary to achieve your goals

Now that you have a grasp of the basic concepts of UX design and have identified your aspirations, it’s time to delve into mastering the specific skills required to achieve those goals. Instead of merely having a high-level understanding, aim to deeply learn and master these skills. For example, if your aspiration is to become a UI designer, focus on mastering skills such as color psychology, typography, grid systems and more. If you aspire to become a researcher, concentrate on honing skills like conducting interviews and designing surveys. It’s important to note that I’m not discussing tools yet; that comes later. First, focus on mastering the foundational concepts of everything you’ll eventually apply in tools.

4. Familiarize yourself with the tools and techniques used in UX design

Now, it’s time to focus on the tools and techniques. One common mistake aspiring UI designers make is diving straight into learning tools without understanding the concepts and philosophies behind them. Remember, tools are merely instruments; without a solid understanding of design principles, your work won’t shine. That’s why tools come last in the process.

If your goal is to become a UI designer, consider learning popular tools like Figma. For those aspiring to be researchers, tools like F Builder and card sorting tools are valuable to learn. However, it’s not just about learning these tools; aim to master them through practice. Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you practice with the tools, the more proficient you’ll become.

With that, we conclude the first part of the process.

Step 2 — Apply

Image source — https://www.uxdesigninstitute.com/blog/ux-portfolio-examples/

Applying consists of four key steps:

  1. Create portfolio & resume
  2. Apply for jobs aligned with your aspiration
  3. Prepare for interview
  4. Cracking the interview

1. Create portfolio & resume

The first step is to develop your portfolio and resume. The primary gateway into UX design is through your portfolio. Every company you apply to will request both a resume and a portfolio. One common mistake among aspirants is focusing solely on the portfolio and neglecting the resume. Both are crucial and should be given equal attention. They should clearly demonstrate your skills.

Now, the key question is: what skills should your portfolio and resume highlight? The answer lies in your aspirations. Your portfolio and resume must align with your aspirations. For instance, if you aim to be a UI designer, your portfolio and resume should emphasize your UI skills. Conversely, if you’re pursuing research roles, highlight your research skills. Mismatch between your aspirations and the content of your portfolio and resume often leads to rejection. Therefore, ensure that your portfolio and resume accurately reflect your career goals.

2. Apply for jobs aligned with your aspiration

Now comes the most critical part of your journey: finding the right job. Once your portfolio and resume are polished, you might feel inclined to apply to every available job in the industry. However, this is where many aspirants make a crucial mistake. I’ve witnessed aspirants blindly applying for jobs without even reading the job descriptions properly.

For instance, a company seeking a researcher received applications from candidates aspiring to be UI designers. This mismatch inevitably led to rejections, either early in the process or during later interview stages. It’s essential to understand that job descriptions and your aspirations must align.

If you’re applying for roles that don’t match your aspirations, you’re wasting both your time and the company’s resources. Therefore, it’s vital to apply only to jobs that align with your career goals. For example, if a company is hiring for a UI designer, they’ll prioritize candidates with strong UI skills over research skills. Thus, candidates aspiring to be UI designers stand a better chance of success.

This point underscores the importance of understanding and sticking to your aspirations throughout the job search process.

3. Prepare for interview

Now that you’ve applied for jobs aligned with your aspirations, you may start receiving interview invitations. Interviews are a common and crucial method used by hiring managers to assess your skills and compatibility with the role. Beyond skill validation, hiring managers also want to see if you’ve done your homework before the interview.

Therefore, it’s essential to prepare thoroughly for the interview. Your preparation should involve researching the company and anticipating common UX interview questions.

4. Cracking the interview

If you’ve prepared well, you’re already halfway to success in the interview. The remaining 50% depends on how you handle the interview itself. Here are some tips to help you navigate the interview effectively:

  1. Stay calm and confident: You’ve done your preparation, researched the company, and know their products. There’s no need to feel nervous.
  2. Take your time: It’s perfectly acceptable to take 5 to 10 seconds to compose your answers.
  3. Maintain a friendly demeanor: Put a smile on your face to convey positivity and confidence.
  4. Be honest: If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s better to admit it than to make up an answer.
  5. Ask questions: Don’t hesitate to seek clarification if something is unclear or confusing during the interview.”

These tips will help you approach the interview with confidence and professionalism.

Alright, that concludes our journey through the process. I trust that this guide will assist you in securing your first job in UX design. Best of luck to you!

If you have any questions regarding the process, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll gladly address them.

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Abhi Chatterjee

UX Designer at Dubai Municipality specialised in User research & Interaction Design