Building Confidence, Theirs and Mine


How would you convince potential UX or UI employers that you have the drive and passion to more than make up for having been away from the industry for a time?

How would you convince them if you only had a month and a half left to land a job and your portfolio included no delivered projects?

I’m highly confident that I’m looking at the right career, especially after attending the UX Intensive by Adaptive Path. I’m less confident I will ever meet the ‘needs’ of a job opportunity.


Confidence and self doubt are things I really struggle with. Even after more than 5 years in UX (8 if you count the time spent studying industrial design at university) it still plagues me.

The best advice I’ve been given is the old ‘fake it til you make it’ thing. You have to convince yourself that you know your stuff and you really do add value- because it’s true!

About portfolios - I don’t have one and I am happily employed and have never had an issue. I don’t believe in them. It’s all about connecting with people on a more human level and forming meaningful relationships. Talk to people- take them out for a coffee or whatever (spoken as a non coffee drinker) and just talk to them.

As for being away from the industry- UX is everywhere. There are so many skills and experiences that feed into it that there’s always something you can draw upon from other industries eg research, analysis, building relationships, managing plus many many more.


I couldn’t agree more. When going out for my current job, I didn’t have full-time UX experience. I did have some experience in the field however, and after completing some additional position-related research, I was able to speak confidently about my preferred process, the UX industry in general, and was able to walk through a usability review of without any difficulty.

This week we’ve been hiring for a different position, and I’ve been part of the team conducting the interviews. The topic came around to when we were hiring for my position. To my surprise, I had beat out four other UX professionals with significantly more UX experience (and whom I personally probably would have hired ahead of me). My team agreed that the biggest difference between me and the other candidates was my ability to speak effectively on the subject of UX. While the other candidates had significantly more real-world experience, they were unable to articulate their preferred processes or testing methods, common issues companies in our sector faced with usability in general, or the differences between working as a UX team of one vs. being a cog in a larger UX machine.

In the end, it was my ability to communicate my thoughts and well-researched facts that won me the gig.

My advice to you would be to study up on common UX interview questions as much as possible, and to have answers prepared ahead of time for the more common questions. By rehearsing your answers and being prepared to speak on particular topics, your delivery will come with more confidence, even if you don’t feel truly comfortable with your UX ability in general.


… all of the above. That said,

I’d like to add one thing - please have realistic expectations of what you do and most importantly don’t know. There’s a damning blog post by Dan Maccarone and Sarah Doody about the state of learning UX at present

Freiermuth notes that designers trained in this way [General Assembly bootcamps] “will likely project their genuine confidence and smartly highlight their strengths while being completely unaware of how junior they actually are. They do get the job, then struggle immediately, without knowing when they are well outside their realm of competence.”

Hopefully Adaptive Path gave good expectations of what you can aim for (and this may be related to certain countries, the article is about the US, and I’ve heard similar stories in the UK) but please aim for junior or normal level UX rather than senior, and don’t lie or overpromise.


@vickytnz that blog post by Sarah Doody and Dan Maccarone is one of my best UX reads for the year. Or maybe best UX read ever. :smiley:


Well, this is one of my problems to be frank. I’m unfortunately 10 years into my professional life, I have a family to support and bills to pay. While I know I’m not at senior level and likely won’t be going after those jobs I’m not able to enter any career field at a junior level, they pay is just not going to cut it.

This is where the confidence issue is coming from. I know I have the mindset, but I don’t have volumes of hands-on experience and even my web development foundation is seven years old. I’m confident that I will hit the ground running and will be able to come up to speed very quickly, that’s what I’ve done all my life so far. But I’m not confident that I’ll get the opportunity.

I’m kind of stuck between three careers. I know UX is the direction I want to go but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m too far behind. I’m hoping to start a masters program in a related field but that will take months to complete and I’m down to weeks left to find a job.