Here are some tips that helped me transition into Product Design.
1. Build a portfolio.
Perhaps the most obvious, but you will need a portfolio that reflects the type of work you would like to do. If you’re interested in UX, create case studies that show your understanding of the process. If you’re interested in visual design, build out a fictional style guide, or use Dribbble or Behance to share your illustration and iconography work.
2. Practice white-boarding.
As a design rookie you will not have experience, which means the primary quality employers can hire you for is strong design communication. Practice communicating your problem-solving process out loud and on the fly.
3. Make your past experiences relevant.
If you have prior professional experience, tie it into your resume — regardless of what it is. For me, it was architecture, in which the design process has a lot in common with the process of product design. Did you work in retail? Use your sales experience and apply that knowledge to how you would design a marketing site! Give yourself an edge that’s unique to you.
4. Instead of an app redesign, try a feature addition for your portfolio.
Redesigns are extremely hard to get right, and as a junior designer, you most likely will not have the necessary context required to redesign an entire product meaningfully. Instead, try adding or tweaking a feature of a product you love — it’s more constructive, and makes for a realistic and achievable case study. You can conduct more focused user research and utilize the existing product design system to iterate more rapidly.
5. Create a focused, digital design presence.
Decide which channels and profiles you would like to use to showcase yourself as a designer, and maintain those rigorously. It is better to have a constantly updated LinkedIn, AngelList, Twitter, and Dribbble, instead of having every single profile possible but irregularly maintained. Post often, and don’t be afraid to show in-progress work and explorations. Engage in the community discourse to show your passion.
6. Recruiters are your friends.
A recruiting agency actually helped me land my first UX design role with Amazon. Work with as many as you can, they are resources that will expose you to roles you would not be able to find otherwise, as well as get your profile in front of more eyes than you could by yourself.
7. Apply to as many jobs as possible.
I sent out over 100 applications. I heard back from about 15. Got interviews with 4. Landed 1, maybe 2. When you’re starting out, thick skin and brute force is the way to go. Create a template cover letter and tweak it slightly for each company you apply to.
8. Take every opportunity to make personal connections.
Sending cold applications can be rough, impersonal, and a blow to the ego. Some of this pain can be avoided by putting in the effort to make more personal connections. Whether its meeting for coffee, engaging in a Twitter thread, or going to networking events, any way you can present yourself as a real person rather than another resume will benefit you exponentially.
9. Welcome feedback.
As a new designer, ditch the pride and invite constructive critique of your work as often as possible. Treat every interview as a learning opportunity and feedback session for your work. You have nowhere to go but up.