UX Unicorn

User experience (UX) is not one thing, it’s several. There are skill sets such as user- and usability research, interaction design, visual design, information architecture design, concepting, content creation and front-end coding – just to name a few.

There has been a lot of discussion whether UX professionals should be experts in all of the areas of UX or specialize in some of them. Many of the recent UX job ads I’ve seen say it clearly: to be qualified you should indeed be expert in most of the UX skill areas and more!

To me it feels like the companies are looking for a unicorn. Something that doesn’t exist. Well, at least I’m not a unicorn. And yet I’m good at many things. Not equally good at everything, but who is?

At least I’m not a unicorn. And yet I’m good at many things.

Now how should I as a job-seeker communicate this to the companies in order to appear at least half as versatile as the unicorn they’re after? Fortunately the internet is full of kind people who are willing to share their wisdom on this topic. Below are the best three advice I’ve seen so far.

Graph your skill levels

In his slideset UX Career progression – Finding a niche and building a personal brand  UX Professional Nick Finck advices to visualize as a graph your relative skill-level in different areas. That makes it clear what is the range of your abilities but also highlights where your core competences are.

I like the idea! For example my graph could look something like this:

UX skills graph


Tell a story

In his article The UX Portfolio: Telling Your Story  Patric Neeman (Director of Product Design at nPARIO) reminds about the power of stories. Your UX portfolio should showcase your work as stories, starting with the challenge, continuing with the process and ending with the results.

A compelling portfolio has one or two big stories, and lots of smaller ones. It tells stories that fit the audience, that sell and that has a great ending in terms of measurable return on investment.

Great advice! I know I still need to work on my stories, so I’ll definitely follow this advice!

State it clearly

In her article How to sell your skills as a uxer UX recruiting professional Alison Lawrence gives several tips on how to clarify your portfolio. Her tips include:

  • Focus on your skills, not your job title
  • Describe in plain language and show with work samples
    • what it is that you’ve done
    • with what tools
    • what deliverables you have worked on

This makes sense, and I now have all this in my portfolio. That still doesn’t make me a unicorn, but that’s OK. Like Alison wrote: “Don’t feel that you need to know it all or be everything. The perfect UX Unicorn doesn’t exist.”

UX unicorn cartoon

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