UX designers are in high demand. As mobile apps have become the norm over the past decade, more and more companies have realized that their digital products need to be user-friendly.
And this trend shows no signs of slowing: according to Cognizant Jobs of the Future Index, the demand for UX Design will continue to grow in the “AI era”, even as conventional jobs become automated.
Even with these positive prospects, switching to a UX design career still feel very daunting. As well as the promise of future rewards, there is also a sense of risk and unpredictability. Something else we hear about a lot is the fear of “wasting” prior education and work experience.
However, there’s another way of looking at things. The experience you bring from your previous career will almost always be an asset as you begin switching careers to UX design. Transferable skills can come from all kinds of fields, from marketing to management.
Your existing skills not only mean that you’ll have a head start in your UX education; you’ll also have a lot to boost your resume when it comes to hunting for that first UX design job.
Read on for our tips on how to leverage existing skills to support your new career!
To succeed as a UX designer, you need a range of soft skills—from communication to time management. The great news is that soft skills are typically very transferable. Here are a few examples of experience you’re likely to bring from previous work.
[ Unsure what UX designers do all day? Check out our explainer on UX design job descriptions! ]
Whether it’s explaining the rationale behind design decisions, or annotating screen designs when handing them over to a developer, UX designers need to get their ideas across to others clearly and concisely.
Think about moments in your career where you’ve taught something to a group, presented a project, or persuaded others to buy in to an idea. Career switchers who have a background in sales, marketing, or customer support are at a particular advantage. The same often goes for teachers, pharmacists, and line managers!
The first stage in the design thinking process is “empathize”. UX design is a user-centered discipline, and understanding user needs from a first-person perspective is critical to successful problem-solving as a designer.
Many professions require a high degree of empathy. In the big picture, experience in any customer-facing role is likely to have developed your capacity for empathy, and your understanding of how to act on those insights. Roles in healthcare, education, and customer service form a particularly strong launchpad for working in UX design.
Collaboration and Leadership
Effective design work requires collaboration at every stage of the process, whether it’s coming up with ideas (think group brainstorming), conducting research (you’ll need to work with users), or handing off work to a developer (discussion to solve problems and constraints that arise).
No matter what industry you’re coming from, there’s significant value in the knowledge and experience you gained from working alongside people who think differently from you.
The same goes for leadership: UX designers are often project leaders, particularly within small teams. The experience you bring as a leader doesn’t evaporate just because you’re switching careers. Highlight your successes as a leader on your resume and hiring managers will understand your new design skills in the context of your full set of skills.