Advice on Design Portfolios, Resumes, Interview Prep, and Job Hunting
(presented by TA Rajiv Sancheti)
On 2019-11-25, Rajiv Sancheti (TA in Fall 2019 term) walked through some example case studies and designer resumes, then did a Q&A about the design job hunting process. These are informal notes that Prof. Guo took while Rajiv was talking.
Also check out Prof. Guo's HCI/Design Jobs for New College Grads talk.
Portfolio home page
Make a minimalistic home page; don't put too much fancy stuff on your home page:
QUALITY over QUANTITY: you can go through only 2-3 case studies in an interview, so only show 2-3 best ones and be able to go IN DEPTH and tell a good story about each one ... it doesn't help to have 4, 5, 6 case studies listed, nobody's going to read all of them. Show your few best ones.
(In contrast, if you're a graphic/visual designer, you can show off quantity of artwork in a separate tab where you show a lot of illustrations, graphics, or other art that you've done.)
Internship projects should be listed first and prioritized over class projects since internships feel more real ... but if you only have class projects, that's fine too to start with. We all had to start somewhere.
Fall 2019 TAs Rajiv and David worked on the same team project for COGS120 (intro. HCI class) but wrote up their own individual case studies, which they used to get internships:
Find what you're interested in and focus more on those sections in your case study, even if you do a team project; your interviews will focus on more what you're genuinely interested in, and you won't be able to talk well about parts that don't interest you as much.
Case study is to show recruiters whether you're a good fit.
1st round interview will usually be a phone screen:
to get UX design jobs, differentiate yourself from graphic/visual designers who have super high-fidelity artistic graphics; you need to show that you're a good problem solver and storyteller
introduction section of case study: make it personal and relate it to yourself
bullet points are good -- more easily skimmable than long paragraphs
bold, highlight, quote info that you want to emphasize
your recruiter/interviewer will scroll thru your portfolio super-fast and read only the key points; make it super easy to skim
Have BIG HIGH-RESOLUTION IMAGES since people will ZOOM IN to see details, and you don't want it looking grainy or pixelated
Very important to talk about to show where you made changes throughout your design process:
Practicing for interviews:
Piazza question from last week: "How come are design resumes very minimalistic? They often have a lot of white space and are two column. Why is this? Do companies want more or less detail? Or do companies usually look at designer's websites and that's where most of the content comes from?"
Rajiv's answer on Piazza: "Most companies are looking at a designer's portfolio rather than their resume. That's why most designers keep their resumes short and to the point. This is also a place you can show off some of your visual design skills so make sure it is easily readable. Key info to have in your resume would be your education/graduation date, link to your portfolio/LinkedIn, employment experience, and potentially a short description of 1-2 design projects you are proud of."
He elaborated on this in class:
Question: How important is the cover letter?
Answer: Not too important; just make it OK and put a link to your portfolio
Question: What's most important part of interview prep that's not your actual portfolio?
Answer: depends on the kind of interview ...
Question: What do you look for in a company?
If you can't get a summer design internship: