How to Reboot Your UX/UI Design Job Search in 2021

5 min readJan 21, 2021
Words: Nicole Locklair / Illustration: Gina Medranda

Last year will go down in history as unprecedented for many reasons. For job seekers in particular, the beginning of 2020 looked very different from the end. We went from a record number of open roles to record unemployment and, regardless of geography, industry, or experience, almost everyone faced the same daunting challenges when it came to finding a new role.

While a full recovery may still be a little way off, there is an end in sight. Vaccines are going into widespread distribution, and companies are looking forward to some version of full or part-time return to the office. This year, you can expect more job openings, a faster interview process, and renewed enthusiasm from companies, recruiters, and hiring managers alike.

So how can you prepare for a UI/UX job in 2021? Read on for a few tips and tricks.

Remember that Searching for a Job Is a Job

Hopefully you took a few days or weeks off over the holidays to reset, and to prepare to dive back into the job search. Now, it’s time to treat your job search as a job. For most people, the workday consists of blocks of time set aside for specific tasks, and that should be the same for job seekers.

Try some of these approaches below to help keep you organized and motivated throughout your job search.

Calendar Your Days

The words “search for a job” can easily overwhelm even the most seasoned job seeker. What’s key to remember is you have the power to combat that anxiety by providing structure to your job search.

Put specific time parameters around resume review, job applications, networking, and other job related tasks. Maybe you set aside mornings for job search and applications, and afternoons are for networking, for example. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint; searching, applying, interviewing, and accepting any job worth having typically takes time. And giving yourself reasonable tasks to accomplish in a set amount of time each day can help you feel like you’re making continued progress during the job search marathon.

Don’t forget to also schedule time for breaks — and stick to them! Whether it’s lunch, a workout, or a nap, step away from the screen and take a breather.

Consider Your Environment

Certainly the lines between work and home life have never been blurrier than during the Covid era. You may be reading this from a couch, your bed, or from the corner of your closet. If possible, set yourself up at a table or desk when searching for jobs to mimic an office environment as much as possible. This will help you get in the head space to focus on the task at hand.

Network (and Then Network Some More)

Networking may not come naturally to you, but it’s a vital part of the career search. As you kickstart your job search again, it may be time to rethink your approach. Like the search itself, it’s easy to get both overwhelmed with options and underwhelmed by responses.

Try some of these networking ideas to keep yourself motivated throughout…

Use Your Connections’ Connections

Maybe you’ve seen an opening for a UI/UX Design role at Company X, and your friend works there, but in Marketing/IT/Sales, etc. Ask them if they know anyone in the Product or Design departments to make an introduction.

Or maybe you see a role at Company X, and your friend used to work there, but doesn’t currently. Ask them if they know anyone who’s still there and would be willing to make an introduction. Don’t be afraid that you’re stepping over any boundaries — your friends will be safe in the knowledge you’ll return the favor at any point!

Explore Alumni Networks

Even if your undergraduate degree isn’t in a field you’re currently interested in, you can still take advantage of that network. Search for people from your school or graduating class who may be in the UI/UX design field, or a company you’re interested in. You already have your alma mater in common, and they may be able to provide some insight on their career path and the best routes into the industry.

Explore Professional Networks

Follow companies and join private groups on LinkedIn, as that will automatically open up global networking opportunities. Often, individual members from these groups will post jobs, invitations to local events or talks, and interesting articles that you can tap into.

Don’t just follow design-related organizations though! If you know you’d like to work in a startup, healthcare, or any other specific field, search out connections in that regard too.

Switch up Your Approach

How have you been reaching out to contacts? Is your messaging working? If you’ve been sending out the same email or LinkedIn message over and over, try something shorter, longer, with a different intro, or a varied tone. Testing different phrases and tactics, and building on what works with these is key!

Iteration Is Key

As a UI/UX designer, iteration is essential to your work process and achieving a final product. You should take that same approach to the job search, especially as a new year gets underway. If you’ve been applying to jobs with the same resume, cover letter, and portfolio for months with no result, it’s probably time to switch it up.

Try one of these iteration ideas to freshen up your application materials.

Resume Review

Hopefully you’ve been somewhat tailoring your resume to the positions you’ve applied to, but if not, now is the time. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it’s these little things that will set you apart from other applicants. Make sure your resume features keywords from the job description, is easily scannable, and includes any freelance or pro-bono projects you’ve done over the past few months.

Cover Letter Customization

Similar to the point above, your cover letter should speak directly to the role and company you’re applying to. Employers understand you’re probably applying to multiple roles, but you want to make them feel like their role is the one you care about the most.

Take a look at the length of your cover letters. In reality, hiring managers and recruiters may not even read them. But in the off chance they do, you want to keep it short and sweet. Employers certainly want to know why you’re interested in a role, but they don’t want to read your life story to get there. Save the details for the interview.

Job searching at any point can be a long and arduous process, no more so than over the past nine months. But it can also be extremely rewarding, both throughout the journey, and as you reach your next career goal and land the job you’ve been aiming for. By setting a schedule, improving your networking approach, and iterating on your application materials, you’re sure to land your dream job in UI/UX design in 2021.

Towards the end of our UX Academy program, we offer unparalleled career support to students. If you’re looking to break into the UI/UX Design industry in 2021 with the help of mentors and career coaches we encourage you to reach out to

This article was originally posted on the Designlab Blog.




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