Applying for UX writing jobs sucks.
It’s a numbers game, and you can’t help but feel like the ATS software is against you.
On top of that, recruiters only look at your UX writer resume for mere seconds. If the machines are fickle and recruiters are time-stressed, how the heck are you supposed to land a UX writing job?
I’ve been there — before my UX writing freelance days, I danced the job application dance. I know how time intensive it can be to apply and apply, and how defeating it can feel to hear crickets.
For me, my question was always, “What am I doing wrong?”
Then, I figured it out.
I was applying but not getting interviews at the time. That meant the only possible reflections of me that weren't working were my:
- Cover letter
I like to call these my Assets.
Once I honed in on and optimized each Asset, landing UX writer position interviews was a piece of cake. I quickly went on to land UX writing jobs with companies like Netflix, Fitbit, Afterpay, and more.
I’m going to write a few articles deep diving into each Asset, but today, I’m focusing on the UX writer resume. Because a lot of what you think you know about resume-writing might be wrong. Or at least not to your benefit.
We’re taught to think of resumes as a document we send as a step in the application process. I think it’s more like the first layer of the job application “onion.” And just like you slowly peel an onion, so you don’t get overstimulated, recruiters and hiring managers are viewing your resume with the bare-minimum level of interest.
Because of that, the purpose of your resume is to convince the recruiter or hiring manager you’re a worthy candidate to learn more about — that’s it. The interview process is there for you to deep dive into the specifics. Like a successful date, you need to say enough to leave them wanting more.
So, how do you create a UX writer resume that convinces a recruiter or hiring manager you should move on to the next step?
I have 3 resume secrets:
- View your resume as a product
- Less > more
- Empathize with the reader
Let me explain…
1. Viewing your resume as a product
It’s time to stop thinking of your resume as a cog in a machine and start thinking of it as the first touch of the user experience and user journey you’re creating.
That’s right — your UX writing job application is a user experience. And you can (and should) apply UX writing and UX best practices to the design, structure, and experience of your resume.
- Optimizing for scanning
- Creating a clear information architecture
- Creating an intuitive content hierarchy
- Being clear and concise
- Only sharing helpful and useful information
Design your UX writer resume just like you’d design an onboarding flow. Use words as your tool to craft an experience that convinces the user (the recruiter or hiring manager) to convert (move you to the next round.)
To do this, forget all the “traditional” resume-writing tips you know (except sticking to one page — that’s important.)
Forget bullet points, outlining specific responsibilities, and formal structures. Instead, include only what’s interesting and relevant to the user(recruiter or hiring manger) in a design that’s clear and readable.
Take my most recent resume, for example:
I use brief sentences, not bullet points. I include a “tools” section, because recruiters and hiring mangers want to know you know Figma. I don’t list my address, because they don’t need it yet.
Design your resume, don’t repeat a resume.
2. Less > more
Your resume is much, much more than a general record of your job history. Successful resumes have little to do with the specifics of what you did, and instead, show how your experience is relevant to your career move.
Relevant experience isn’t exclusive to existing UX writers, content designers, or content strategists. If you’re currently a teacher, instead of listing your teaching responsibilities, briefly explain how you used user-centric thinking to organize, structure, and create lessons plans. That level of relevancy can even outperform a UX writer with 5+ years of experience and a poor resume.
The key with this tip is less is more. Don’t use 4 bullet points to outline the specifics of your role — that takes multiple seconds to read, and remember, a recruiter only spends seconds on your *entire* resume.
Instead, summarize your relevancy in a brief sentence.
For example, I showcase my relevancy to UX writing in my past role as a Copywriter at PetSmart by showing my experience working with voice and tone, something critical to UX writing:
On the less is more note, make sure your resume isn’t flashy. No colors, no photos, no fun fonts. Opt for text only, black and white, and a normal font.
Again, a recruiter is only spending seconds on your resume, and is the photo of you really worth the 2-second distraction?
3. Empathize with the reader
Hiring sucks almost as much as job-searching. It’s tiring and time-intensive, and people have to do it on top of a bunch of other responsibilities.
Design the resume busy people want to read. Again, the recruiter or hiring manger only need to know enough at this stage in the application process to believe you’re qualified and relevant. That means you can include a lot less information that has a lot more impact (and eyeballs.)
At the end of the day, a recruiter or hiring manager really only needs to know:
- Your experience is relevant
- You’re a real person
You don’t need to bog them down with KPIs and long sentences to show that.
Try this: Next time you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed on a busy day, take a look at your resume. Analyze how you read it in that state of mind. You might be surprised what information stands out to you when you’re not reading your resume from a calm, attentive standpoint.
Job-hunting isn’t fun. But it’s something you can easily hack.
Happy UX writing 🖖