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Episode 119

119: How to Finally Land a Job in UX (ft. Sarah Doody)

The job market in tech is volatile. But there are factors within your control to land the gig you’re looking for. In this episode, Sarah Doody - Founder & CEO of Career Strategy Lab - shares advice from years of talking with candidates, hiring managers, and UX teams. Hear what you can do to escape the all-too-common journey of 100 plus failed applications.

Show notes

Learn more about Sarah Doody and Career Strategy Lab.
Career Strategy Lab is a UX career accelerator that helps UX professionals get hired without applying to hundreds of roles.

People of Product is hosted by George Brooks and Dan Linhart.

The show is edited by Larissa McCarty.

Brought to you by Crema.

Crema is a digital product agency that works with partners from top innovative brands to funded startups. Our team of creative thinkers and doers simplify the complex to discover the right solutions faster.


George: Sarah, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm so happy to have you on the podcast. I'd love to just pass it straight to you. Why don't you give a quick introduction about yourself, your background and who you are.

Sarah: Awesome. I'm excited to chat with you, George. I am the founder and CEO of something called Career Strategy Lab, which is a UX career accelerator slash incubator. We're experimenting with messaging, but we consider ourselves very much like a startup incubator where. You come to us and you are trying to either be ready in case unexpected opportunities come your way or get hired like in six months or less, basically.

So our program really incubates you through the entire job search and everything that entails resume portfolio, LinkedIn, preparing for interviews, networking, all that stuff. And. That is a complete accident. I never intended to get into this. It was never even a consideration and it's really a product of me doing research and experience design for so long and that research muscle kicking in around 2017 when I noticed this problem, and very long story short. I did a couple of really small, kinda lunch and learn style workshops.

And I really thought I'll do this once and I'll never have to talk about this again. and then people started to get hired and they said, can this workshop be longer? And I thought, okay. So it's been a five year evolution of. That. And now we're a team of five.

And that's pretty much all I do, although I was just on the road for a very quick research trip to Chicago and Nashville. So yeah, that's what consumes all of my time, these days.

George: You are busy. That sounds amazing. And in, in such a unique time, too, right? Cuz the talent market. Can I just say like weird right now. I don't exactly know how to describe it. So I guess, how are you describing the talent market right now? Especially in the niche that you're focused into, when you look at the, the last today, gosh, today versus three months ago versus three years ago versus five years.

What, how do you describe where we're at right now?

Sarah: so it's funny. I was just doing this research project with a colleague of mine who he and I actually created and taught the first version of general assemblies, UX bootcamp back in 2011, 2012 in New York city. And back then, I don't know if anyone else had boot camps or if general assembly was the first, but it was definitely general assemblies first.

And it's been very interesting to watch. The industry over the last 10 years. And I would say, especially the last five, six years, the emergence of so many bootcamps and, this is getting to the problem. We're all aware of, which is a lot of people wanting to get into the industry, finding it hard to get hired and the expectation that well, shouldn't it be fast for me to get a job? You see these posts on social media all the time.

George: Yeah.

Sarah: And on the flip side, because I've gotten into recruiting and hiring recently, according to my data, which is 80 companies that have raised their hand and wanna work with us. So I'm recruiting, which I basically need to clone myself now, but I am trying to zap the heck out of everything I do, but companies on the other hand are really. Struggling to find candidates. And I think one of the breakdowns in our industry is that so many people have a very narrow either desire or target list of companies they wanna work at.

So a lot of people wanna work at FAANG companies, and I say to them, you could do that. But there are so many companies out there that are not a FAANG company, but are not just a bootstrapped startup that will pay you a ton of money, give you a ton of benefits, let you work from anywhere. And you'll have a great life and probably do cool work too.

George: Yeah.

Sarah: So I don't agree with the statements about it's such a tough market, cetera, because I see both sides of it, and I think the challenge that a lot of people have roots into things that are within their control, such as learning how to present yourself as an effective candidate. And rushing through your resume, your LinkedIn, your portfolio, playing the numbers game, et cetera. And I say that with a high amount of confidence, cuz I see this happen week after week with people getting hired, who join our program and do what we teach.

George: So talk me through that a little bit. You're cuz this is so important. I've talked to so many young designers, so many young professionals coming into this space over the years, especially as Crema grew and my company grew and we we didn't always have a spot for people, but we were always recruiting.

So we always used to say, we're always recruiting, but we're not always hiring.

Sarah: Right.

George: And so we were always looking for folks that had potential, but in those conversations, it was also like there was people. That didn't have yet have the potential, where it was like, Hey, let me just give you a couple basic pointers.

Now I know what mine are. What are the things that you lean into? And I don't want you to give away the whole secret sauce because they should go check out your program for a lot of that. But what are the areas that as you're talking to talent, that's interested in getting into this space into this world.

You already mentioned a few basic things, but where do they, where do you get started? What's the 1 0 1.

Sarah: Yeah. So I think there's. Two challenges. If we think of people, who just graduated college and are looking for their first professional job and therefore don't have experience or this massive category of career switchers as I call them, which are the teachers, the nurses' industrial designers, architects, etc who are connecting the dots between their current career and the future and realizing, wait a sec, I can make more money, have better quality of life if I did this .

So for those people that have that chicken and egg, I don't have enough experience, but I can't get experience. If no one hires me, there's the question of, for example, with the portfolio, cause I'm sure you've looked at a lot of portfolios and you're hiring and a lot of those portfolios all look the same and a lot of the portfolios or the people fear that recruiters are gonna dismiss bootcamp projects, like almost verbatim from a lot of people or do recruiters dismiss personal pro Smith's personal projects, mock projects, whatever you wanna call them.

And. I don't have hardcore data on this, but from a lot of conversations with hiring managers, the theme is I would like to see evidence that you have done UX in the real world with a real team, for all the reasons that, dealing with all those constraints. Like it's not the perfect scenario, but, and this is a big, but if you can demonstrate to me, That you just didn't dump a bunch of deliverables and screenshots into a document and call it a portfolio, but actually talk me through what you did.

Why did you do it? Why was it done this way? What were the steps? What happened? That is going to stand out lightning years from someone with 3, 5, 7 years experience who just has a screenshot upon screenshot style portfolio. Does that make sense?

George: Absolutely because what we found, what we have found is the. We've had a lot of people that come in with quote, unquote, lots of experience because they have years at a place come to find out. One thing that's actually dangerous about that is that you can be insulated inside of a team and never have done anything.

Sarah: Exactly.

George: And so we, we actually there's I'm with you that we want to hear the story behind the story, right? What's the brief behind the brief of the work that you actually did on that team. If you're switching or if you're coming from, another place. Like us, to some extent in the same career space, but for people coming up, I'm a hundred percent fine with, at least me personally, not everybody is with work.

That is quote unquote faked. That is something you did on your own time during a bootcamp, during a school or whatever. As long as you gave really good thinking behind it. And the best example I have of this. And then I wanna see if you have any good examples of this as well, we had an industrial designer that she wanted to switch into UX while in college, like last semester, she's I don't really know, think I wanna do. I think I wanna switch to UX. So she actually applied to work at Spotify. And so she had put together this portfolio presentation, which actually was a movie of her taking a Spotify experience and creating a new UX around matching it with personality profiles and these other things, just these unique take on the Spotify UX.

And so she went from everything from. Mood board on a wall time, lapsed of her, pulling it up, mixing things together to her sketching out ideas. She ended up, she was a great artist, so that helped. And then she went straight into prototyping time, lapsed her prototyping into actually sitting down with people.

And it was this like, three minute video, real short, but it showed her whole process. And we basically, she goes, I don't think I got the job at Spotify. And I said, you, you have an offer right now. And she was with us for four years. and yeah, I like that's the type of example of thinking behind the work versus here's a screenshot of the thing that I did because I was on a team or because I was tasked to do this at school. Because let's face it. It's so easy to learn the basics of using software to draw boxes or diagrams and make deliverables.

George: Yeah.

Sarah: It's another skill to be able to talk through things with colleagues, clients, stakeholders, et cetera, but like to know you're making the right thing.

And I think that's part of a challenge with our industry is we have this, we put on a pedestal, all these shiny designs and things like that. And, or just making designs with some brief that has no constraints that you got on daily UI challenge thing. And that's great to Polish those skills, but you also need to think of a lot of constraints and take feedback, and tailor things beyond the design.

But one example. I have someone in our career strategy lab. They They were switching to UX from something that I can't remember what it was now, but they wanted to do a project that was not something they did in their boot camp, cuz they just thought they wanted to diversify. And they were excited about this product they made.

And basically they'd had surgery were in the hospital for however many days and experienced the. Challenge of trying to use the call button to call nurses and everything, all the friction there. And they created this app, it was iPad an iPhone or something that would allow the patient to communicate with the different nursing staff and, there were left levels of escalation, right? Like I can't breathe maybe anyway, it was very interesting, but they interviewed nurses and I don't know if they made friends with them and went back after they got out of the hospital. They must have anyway, this story behind that.

And that's a great example because. She also told this story of how the project came to be. And I think for these personal projects telling this story of how the project came to be flexes, what I always refer to as your problem, spotting skill, cuz we're also obsessed with solving problems, but this spotting is so key.

And so for anyone in our program that has one of these I'm. Do not pass. Go until you tell us how this came to be. Otherwise that's a big opportunity to show off those soft skills that you're totally skipping over.

George: Oh, my goodness. I have so many places I could go right now because I just want to say amen, because I think absolutely. And so much of what you're talking about is that skill of storytelling, is being able to say here's the plot and here's the problem that needed to be solved. And yes, there was a potential solution, but it didn't happen without an adventure.

Or a challenge that you had to go through. And so I, I love that way of thinking. That's something we talk a lot about with our team and with our clients even is, Hey, this isn't gonna go like a, B, C, D E just till the end. And then we all have this successful app that we're all gonna make billions off of. Never happens that way.

George: I know. How do we change that? How do we change that? That innovation curve where it's always gonna go up, you're always gonna have the trough of despair, the dip or whatever that has to happen. And I think that's true for the individual too. It's true for the person saying I'm gonna learn a skill. I'm gonna get really excited because I learned the skill.

Sarah: Yes.

George: And that feels good because all of a sudden you're able to see things and then it feels real. But then you're gonna realize you don't know enough about what to do with the tool because you haven't had a place to apply it. And then it's oh, why am I even trying to do this thing?

But no one will hire me. Cause I don't have the experience, is this trap before you can go? No. Now, so I guess what is the turning point for you? What's the thing, when a person's in that. I'm not good enough. I don't have the shiny enough things, where does it tip back up to going?

I'm capable of getting a job and excelling in this career.

Sarah: Yeah. Part of what we do with our clients in this career strategy lab program, we have a community as a part of this program and that community is so powerful because that helps the clients. We call them clients, not students. So that helps the clients connect with other people who might be.

Six months ahead of them, six weeks, six days, and it creates this kind of aspirational component to this where they see these people who are getting interviews, who are just like them, who maybe. Only went to a bootcamp or who have been working in UX for 15 or more years, and also faced the same challenges that someone who's been working in it for two years, faces, which all goes back to these things skills that are not part of most learning paths, whether you're self-taught, it's storytelling problem spotting.

Communicating all that, both through words, design, and then verbally that's really what we do. And so that turning point often happens when they can squash that negativity and, imposter like thoughts because they see other people achieving it. So it makes it feel more within their reach, and a lot of it too is me just saying the same thing over and over and over,

George: Just keep beating that drum. Yeah.

Sarah: To remind them like, no, you can get hired if you take these projects and take them to the next level and don't just show what you did, but tell what did you do? Why did you do it? How did you do it? What happened?

What went wrong? Because there's this perception that. Every project must follow a perfect process. And if it didn't, you can't include it in your portfolio. Like people literally think this and I'm like, who is telling you this? And what is their [00:16:00] address? It drives me up the

George: There's so much potential for people. Oh my gosh. I think we would just see talent come out of the woodwork. If they were able to say I feel like I have the permission. To share. I think permission's a word that we talk about.

Sarah: I was just gonna say that let's give them a permission slip. I just did an Instagram post about this

George: Good. That idea is such a powerful idea. We talk in our organization, one of the things that we realized, especially as we started to grow was how many people were holding back because they thought they didn't have the permission to do. And it was like who said that? No one said that. I just assumed that was the case.

Sarah: Yes.

George: Then I'm giving you the permission. What do we have to do to give, like you said, give that permission, slip out to say, here's what I tried. Here's what didn't work. And, oh, by the way, that didn't stop me. I tried something else.

It also didn't work. And maybe that was when I decided to, to either pivot or persevere or punt it or whatever, but I put in the perseverance or I put in at least the effort to say took it to where I thought it could. And here's what we found. Here's what I learned. Here's where we think we could go with it in the future, et cetera.

And those are all things that people, they stop at that first gate. And it's there's so much more opportunity past the gate, the first gate, right?

Sarah: Yeah, no, the permission thing is so big and I think it, it segues into this topic of. Taking, following the status quo or lacking critical thinking. So maybe you've had people ask you this where they say I heard my resume needs to be one page, or maybe you've received one page resumes from applicants.

And you think, why did you shove all this on one page? Like now it's unreadable, or it's only scratching the surface. And I think along with that permission is the idea of. Learning to not take everything for face value regarding, everything but specific to your career. Social media is flooded with conflicting advice set in different ways.

Sometimes it's obvious click bait, et cetera, but not just. For example, making your resume one page, because you read one tweet from someone who's never come across your timeline before, but you saw it on Twitter or design Twitter. So you did it that way. This happens all the time. And one page resumes is a big one.

Can I include projects that didn't launch in my portfolio? That's a big one. What if a project in my portfolio didn't do research like welcome to their real world, so.

George: Yeah, it's so true. What's funny is everything you're describing. It's funny. I wish I could tell designers this or UX folks or on anybody getting this space. Everything you're describing on individual level is exactly what we as a service agency deal with at scale.

Sarah: Yeah

George: So can I use the case study of the product that didn't.

Yeah, of course we can. We're gonna talk about what we did, what we, what worked, what didn't maybe even why they decided to not move forward. So we saved them money. Can I talk about the things that failed during the project, but then ended up turning into a success later? Yeah, a hundred percent.

We're gonna talk about that all day long, but it's just getting past that fear of going. It doesn't fit the mold.

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. And you know what you're describing, whether you are trying to get a job as an individual, whether you're an agency trying to get clients or whether you are an employee, at a company trying to communicate. Ideas strategies to clients, stakeholders, et cetera, these skills of storytelling, problem spotting written, verbal visual communication.

They will not just help you get clients who are get a job. They will help you be so effective once you are hired. And we haven't done the research yet. But one of the things I plan to do is go back to. Everyone that's been through our program, a year after, whenever will find time to do this and say thinking back to everything you learned in career strategy lab, like was, have you applied what you learned or some of it to your job?

And my hunch is, based on a couple of emails, but I wanna do larger sample set is to figure out. These skills of writing or creating a presentation, the concept of headlines and balance of just text and imagery and stuff. My hunch is that helps you make a better presentation of say research findings or a product strategy, roadmap, deck, anything.

And for um, I'm very curious to do that. I don't think it will be shocking, but I'm curious to like, get the sound bites and everything you.

George: I think you're absolutely right. Because so for example, my wife's a nurse and she's a unit, she's a unit educator of a large at a large hospital and she's constantly putting out my education material. To what, 150 nurses plus that material gets distributed around the campus to what 10,000 different, employees in different ways.

And she'll often have me look at this, design that she laid out and it's good. Of course, she's my wife. I'm gonna tell her. It's great. But there's, just a few subtle things and people will go. Oh, my gosh, this is the best material we've seen come through the hospital and it's basic design principles one.

So you go to do go back to the basics, but also it's hi, which I guess is in the design principles, but it's hierarchy it's giving something some white space so.

Sarah: Yes.

George: Not crammed into one page cuz you feel like it needs to be printable it, all these basic things where she was making assumptions about what she thought had to be true.

But were rules that no one ins stated. So it was give yourself the permission to let go. Of some of those things, give it some space breathe, so it's more effective. And and now she uses those. I don't have to review. I never had to in the first place she asked me. But she now takes those things and uses 'em and her day to day, she's a nurse.

She's not a professional UX designer or print design layout. She's trying to teach people things. And this is the truth of anybody in their career. No matter what they're doing.

Sarah: These principles of alignment, hierarchy, layout, grouping, contrasts, like all of these things. It makes me a little sad to think that somehow it feels like our industry is doing a disservice to ourselves by not teaching people this, or emphasizing the importance of this.

And then in your wife's example, I think, imagine how much better the world would be. Everyone, in third grade had to learn this stuff and it's, it could, I feel like some of this could be learned in. A three hour workshop or something not to discount.

George: No, you're right. It's simple things.

Sarah: When you see the before and after of oh, that's bad, this is good.

It's if you're hanging curtains, there's, I don't remember the exact rule, cause I'm not an interior designer, but there's like the right way and the wrong way to hang curtains. And it has to do with the height of the curtains and the alignment with the. Top of the window, whatever that's called.

And once you see it, you can't unsee that, and so same thing for what you're talking about. Even like basic things like writing an email or a slack thread, the wallet texts that a lot of people and I'm like, could you just make three little chunks of texts? People would read that. And so it's not just about your resume.

It's if you want someone to read that email or that text message, chunk it up, like basic stuff.

George: It's about being effective. And I think. We try to. We try to put rules around things so that there's consistency. And I get why some of that exists or why we've tried to train people into consistency, because one, it's easier to teach that way. I'll just say it. It's easier to teach. Like here's the way things ought to be done and everyone should do it.

But I wish we would. I wish growing up, and this is something mostly because I probably wasn't the best academic in the world. I was much more the creative that wanted to say, like, why does it have to be that way? Let me break the rules and make something else. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.

But the question for me was what's effective. If maybe there's a more effective way to do it. Why wouldn't we at least try that? I remember a little science experiment where we were supposed to we were supposed to take a wheel, a large wheel and then rubber band and wrap it around it and have a stick out.

And it would move. It was about motion, right? So it, it would make the wheel go across the room. And I was like, that's one way to do it. But what if I took a giant balloon and I blew it up, strapped it to the wheel and tried to blow it. It was the worst idea ever. It. Six inches. But I remember the teacher being like, I love that you didn't necessarily follow the rules.

I love that you tried something else to prove that maybe there might have been another way to do it. Yes. It moved it forward. But yet there's a reason we are suggesting this way and actually it gave all the rest of students, something else to see, besides the instructions. Now I could have followed the instructions and probably would've gotten a better grade like how to push the lines.

So on my LinkedIn post. I don't write paragraphs. I write like one line and I put a return in between. So people are just can skim it. Some people like that. Some people hate it, but it's effective. Cuz some people can see the pieces they want. So what, like what's effective.

Sarah: yeah, no, I think it's all about we just talked about some of the basic. Principles that make it easier for the user or consumer of whatever you are making. So if you think of a resume, for example, a lot of people forget about who that user is, the hiring manager, the recruiter, even the algorithm, which is. We teach to make two versions of your resume. We call it the ATS version, applicant tracking system version and the human version.

George: Interesting.

Sarah: Because if I'm a human and I'm sent your resume, that's just loaded with keywords and you know it, and you've tried to shove it into certain number of pages or even a lot of people's resumes will be one column.

Because if you do research about applicant tracking systems, that it's hard for them to read columns. So as a human though, having a two column resume is in my opinion, easier to read. I've not done eye tracking studies on resumes, but...

George: Absolutely. There's a lot of UX studies about the narrow column with yeah.

Sarah: Yep. So that's why we do these two versions of resumes.

And I think it's a great example of thinking about who is the user of this and how can I. Use Des literal design principles. And of course, like content and everything to make this the best per version for them. So the literal design and layout of your resume is different for an applicant tracking system version versus human.

And then the words on it will probably be slightly different as well because your more human version may not be as keyword loaded, cuz it feels weird to read something that's like. Got keywords to every third word or something,

George: the way you're speaking sounds a lot, like you're treating each thing as a product so go further with that. Cuz I think that you're talking about a resume as a product, like you're using the same language we would suggest we use when we're designing a mobile app or a web app or a piece of software.

Sarah: Yeah. So we in career strategy lab, I've developed this concept of a, you need to treat yourself like a product and then B you need to treat your core like career assets, which we refer to as your resume, LinkedIn profile and the presentation of your work portfolio, whatever you wanna call it.

I don't care. And I created this analogy or framework because the problems that people make in their career and, or their resume portfolio, LinkedIn interviews, et cetera, to me, it all boiled down to not thinking about the user or the reader, not thinking about what is the job of my resume for what person.

And then. Jumping to the design of the resume and not thinking about the content. So like just jumping through some of the basics of product development, thinking about your user, maybe doing research to learn about your user focusing on the content first, then the design, maybe even get as wild as testing your resume.

That'd be useful. And then one thing that jumps out to me is. You see the posts all the time. People say I've applied to 50 jobs, a hundred jobs, 400 jobs and not had an interview. And I think to you, that's a usability test in action that has like glaring sirens going off. If you're listening, that's telling you something is wrong with your resume.

George: What's the common denominator there.

Sarah: Yeah. So if you, even, if you don't literally do a usability test on your resume, the fact that you're applying and to tens hundreds of jobs and not getting interviews, that is feedback, that's telling you. More than likely there's something wrong with your resume or your LinkedIn, or you're just throwing spaghetti at the wall and applying to every job that has the word UX in it and hoping for the best, but those are the funny thing.

And to me, it's very ironic that product people, UX, people, design people, creatives really don't do this. And I think you've worked with founders. So I think that it's a classic problem of founders are so close to their idea. They just, if there's emotions, there's everything involved and they need you and your agency to come in.

And like level set and give reality. And I think that's, what's happening with a lot of the people that join our program, where they're so close to it. The stakes are so high, they don't wanna mess it up. They get caught in perfectionist and an imposter and stuff. And when we break it down into this process of applying UX and product to you and these steps in the job, search and assets suddenly.

It is a lot easier. It's a lot more manageable and they start to quickly identify the mistakes they've been making

George: When it sounds like so much you remove. Some you remove the fear.

Sarah: And the guesswork.

George: yeah because there is a certain level of ignorance, right? There's the things of, I, I don't know what I don't know.

Sarah: Totally.

George: there's nothing wrong with that. I think that's where we all start. And so it is a question of, okay what do you need to do?

To figure out what you don't know. And I think going through a program like this, or stepping into asking questions or reaching out and saying why these are all just really simple, powerful ways to go, oh I guess I can use the case study that, never went live or I, I can tell a story rather than having to just have bullet points,

Sarah: And I think part of this is about. Slowing down a little bit, which I know people don't wanna hear, but if you slow down and invest the time and energy to do these steps that maybe are sipping over right now on the other side of that will be. A resume that actually works a LinkedIn profile.

That's not like junky a portfolio that you're confident in. And then guess what, two years from now, four years from now, if you suddenly need to be finding a job or you decide you wanna leave. You're not starting from scratch and you have these assets you're really confident in, and you're gonna get hired a heck of a lot faster, cuz most people, every time they need to do a job search, they basically start all over, and that fear and stuff creeps in.

But if you can have these assets that you're confident in it like exponentially decreases the time of your next job search.

George: I wanna ask this maybe goes to the question of what do you think people get wrong? And this is maybe opening a box. I don't want, do I wanna open this box? I'm gonna go for it. There is this term that has been used a lot and I, it happens a lot in hiring. We try to avoid it because we wanna make some assumptions.

There's something deeper there. But do you run into this question of. We're in a talent market where it just seems like everyone can get a job coming right. Outta high school, making more money than our ancestors combined, and is there a feeling of this kind of combatant of entitlement?

That's the question? That's the word? I was like, oh, I don't know if I wanna use it because I think it has a lot of mixed emotions. There's a battle of entitle. or do you see entitlement as more of an issue or the just holding back is an issue or this like pulling back this confidence? That's that imposter syndrome is an issue, which, and maybe it's both, but I'm just curious when you start, when you're talking to your students or people coming in and maybe it's gonna be different for you because people that are coming to you have actually decided to make that decision of I need help.

Sarah: Yeah.

George: Help, which is a different posture.

Sarah: I think both of them are very relevant and I very much, I'm very active on social media, but I also do a lot of. Lurking and by lurking, listening

George: Yeah.

Sarah: And I use social media as a Petri dish to understand the industry. So I can, better communicate with people about this niche of getting hired and stuff.

I do think there is a sense of entitlement and this has come up in a lot of conversations I've had on various podcasts. I think there is a sense of entitlement because I think. Uf we look at the marketing and sales of many UX boot camps and even university and college programs, that is what they literally sell.

They tell you're going to join our thing and get hired and make a hundred grand. And we guarantee it too.

George: A promise. Yeah.

Sarah: It's helpful if your product has a promise, but a lot of people ask me if we have a job guarantee and no, we don't. And I'm very transparent about that.

And the reason is there are too many variables involved for me to promise you will get hired. But I have recently started down the rabbit hole of looking into the. Description of how you qualify for the job guarantee at different boot camps. And I'm reading all like the teas and seasons stuff.

And some of them literally say, I won't name them here, but some of them say, in order to qualify for the job guarantee, you must apply to, I believe one of them. Four jobs a week and the other one might be 10, I forget, but it's not like one job a week. And so they are forcing people to fill this quota of applying to jobs per week also to be doing quote, networking.

So coffee chats reaching out to people. Cetera. And my stance with that is you don't need to play the numbers game because what, when you play the numbers game, You are by definition, setting yourself up for failure. And so then you're gonna get rejections and then you're gonna doubt yourself and then you're gonna redo your portfolio.

And so there's that problem, which I think is an ethical problem. And maybe we don't have to continue anymore with that topic cuz it's its own podcast, but this entitlement, yeah, they're entitled. Cuz they're being told this will happen. They [00:36:00] don't realize all these strings attached on the other side.

And those strings then fuel this massive topic of conversation on social media, which is imposter syndrome and design. Like you put that into YouTube or Twitter or medium or whatever. It's like a flood.

George: Yeah.

Sarah: I don't know how to fix it other than I kind of don't care. What people think about me. I've reached that point in my career, in my life where I will speak out against that.

Cause I think it's wrong to make those promises or make those promises and then force people to play the numbers game. And it's doing them like emotional and psychological distress, not to mention financial distress.

George: It's expensive.

Sarah: First paying for the bootcamp. But then second, if you're conducting a job search where you're applying to what amounts to at least a hundred, for many people, jobs, you are extending the time that it's gonna take you to get hired.

Whereas if you followed what we teach, which is not the numbers game, but relationships, people get hired. Like this is real data. After applying to five jobs, 11 jobs, 13 30, 5 50. So what's happening, you're getting hired faster with less effort. So therefore you're making a higher salary sooner. If you wanna geek out on the math and stuff, like there is a massive financial impact to deciding you're gonna play the numbers game, or you're gonna have a strategy and get hired faster

But I wanna write an article about this, but, I want, I wanna make sure I'm getting my data right. But definitely two bootcamps in the Ts and CS tell people you have to play the numbers game. That's basically what it says.

George: well and I assumed that would be the case. And the problem is that we're, we are creating in that narrative. I say we like the industry is creating that narrative. And so it's one of those things where I want to go back to. Yeah, I'm in the business of people. I happen to design and build apps, so if I'm not building relationships, if I'm not looking at how to have a conversation, how to build trust quickly, how to communicate effectively. Then my business let alone my own career is not, is gonna go nowhere. And that's something we talk about as, as soon as someone comes into criminal, one of the primary things that I look for is what we call humble confidence.

Cuz I want someone who's humble enough to know they have a lot to learn because we never stop learning. But I want someone who's confident enough to say I can take on any challenge and if you've got someone who's over indexing on confidence, they're arrogant and terrible to work.

And you've got someone who's over indexing on humility. They become timid and they won't take a chance when you find that little that, that sweet spot in between it is the person that says I'm willing to speak up in the conversation. Doesn't mean you have to be the most extroverted human being in the room.

That's not what we're asking for, but you're willing to. To share an opinion. When you're willing to ask the question, you're willing to put forth the design, you're willing to ask for feedback on the product. And these are wrong too.

George: Yeah. And be wrong. And then go, oh, this isn't a personal attack on my own personal character or identity.

It's a it's a way for me to learn and get better. And that is just not always what's.

Sarah: one of the other things in what you just said, like it brought up this idea for me of, and I think it stems back to a bit of the imposter syndrome and confidence and stuff, but I think. So many people in our industry, and maybe this is true for others too, but I live in our bubble

George: Sorry.

Sarah: tie their personal identity and worth to what they do.

George: Oh boy. Yeah.

Sarah: I wish I could have a videotape of myself 20 years ago and think was I doing that too? And yeah, I remember like these, probably statements on my original website of change the world through design and all this stuff and okay. Yeah, that's cool. But I think it's very important to find other things in.

You are passionate about or get hobbies that push you and challenge you. Like I love long distance running. I love downhill skiing. I got into mountain biking, which is terrifying, but it's terrifying. But when I do those things for example, I ran for like 45 minutes this morning. I might go mountain biking tonight and doing those things. Or skiing some like super steep thing that freaks me out when something happens in my business or something goes wrong. I think I, oh, that's okay. And I literally try and think to myself, but remember that crazy hard thing. I did like biking or, that steep thing I did skiing or that marathon I ran or something.

And it helps just put things into context. Maybe. I dunno if that makes sense, but.

George: You were preaching to the choir. Cuz I talk a lot about this. I got into cycling a few years ago and the same thing for me. If I can go a long distance or if I can ride a really high elevation ride and go, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do that in a time. I've never done it before.

I'm gonna hit this hill faster than I've hit it before. And there's a certain thing about not only there's a bit of a self competition piece there, but also it's the, what am I capable of? and if I don't test that, I won't know. And maybe I'm, I've tried to hit the hill and I, I literally missed it by 20 seconds, like I wasn't even close to my PR, but it doesn't mean that I wasn't gonna try.

And I think that there's something about this mindset shift. And I want, I love Simon Sinek talks on these because he really pushes into the fact that we need to be teaching people to skin their knees.

Sarah: I like that.

George: And we over, there's a whole thing. I'm parenting here, but there we over cottle our kids, trying to protect them, but not preparing them for the fact that life is filled with both challenges and huge rewards when you face those challenges. So I think I can think about every single thing that has ever been great in my life. Every single thing, starting a business, having kids getting married, going on that trip, riding that bike ride that I did taking on that client that I was way under qualified to take onto whatever they were.

All things that I had to go through pain suffering like self doubt, like challenge before it became this reality of something. So good.

What it's like. Okay, cool. You want the most, you want the job of your life. We'll get ready. It's gonna be hard. And that's okay. Love that. And then also don't tie your identity to when you fail at that, because if your identity is wrapped up into one thing, oh, you're gonna be sorely disappointed.

Sarah: Yeah, no I think there's this, there's almost this formula of success going back to entitlement and things. And I don't think people start out feeling entitled. I think through the messaging and marketing and stuff, they consume that entitle. Surfaces, even if it's subconscious, and I think this whole idea of codling I is so interesting because I often joke like with friends or my team, or probably just to myself when I'm running and stuff like the reason, one of the reasons that people say they appreciate like the content or the videos I create is this.

Kind of no nonsense tell it like it is style. And when people are deciding if they wanna join this program, a lot of them wanna know like how much one on one time am I gonna get with Sarah? And like basically is Sarah gonna be there to hold my hand in and give me cookies and stuff. And I'm like, I'm very blunt about I'm like, we are here.

We will set you up to succeed, but you have to do the work and you're a cyclist. So like I use this Peloton sample and I say, we are like Peloton and you can buy the bike, but if you wanna get fast or lose weight or whatever your goal is, we are not going to call you every morning or knock on your door until you get out of bed and scold you when you don't on get on the bike, and so there's this element of. Personal responsibility that we're very adamant about in kind of the culture of career strategy lab. And we actually do have systems in place. It's of cool where we in the background, monitor people's engagement and if they attend stuff and how many things they submit for critique and all this stuff.

And if it looks like someone's going dark, we'll reach out. But after X number of reach-outs, if you're ghosting. Is, I'm like, sorry, we are not here to coddle you. And this element of personal responsibility, I think is a really important lesson to learn as soon as possible in your career. Cuz if you do that, it has such ramifications, for your professional and personal life too.

George: No question. Yes. Okay. We, I, we are running up on time, so I can nerd out with you on this, all day long.

Sarah: We're not gonna talk about power zone, training and cycling. Now that I know this.

Can I use one example? So a lot of people like ask me what career strategy lab is all about. And I was really inspired by Peloton. My Peloton is off to the side here, but. What inspires me about Peloton is the goal of doing personal training at scale and their ability to help a lot of people at once.

A lot of people with different fitness levels, someone that has never, ran a mile before or biked a mile to pros like yourself. And the thing is I started career strategy lab for many reasons, but one of them, I did do one on one coaching and I was like, this is unsustainable. And I'm gonna totally, I was burned out cause I was like, this is just ridiculous, but I thought, can I do career coaching at scale?

And so we're doing it because we have this program where. Not unlimited people can be in it, but if I hired more coaches, I guess we could be unlimited, but we can serve people at many different career fitness levels, let's call it. And I have been able to clone myself. So that's my last cycling analogy.

But a lot of people thought we couldn't do it. I'm like, watch us do this.

George: I first off I'm so impressed because I think there, there is there one, cuz you made a cycling analogy, which makes me really happy. The a lot of folks that know me listening to this will be like, oh boy, George got, got excited there, but also because you ended on something that has been a theme for me personally and for a lot of. Especially leaders that I've been talking to, but I think it's also true for practitioners coming up, which is this idea of being comfortable, replacing yourself

One, it's goes back to that identity conversation. It's an identity crisis. It is a fear of loss of control.

It is that it won't be the thing that, only how to do, but what actually for forces us to do is actually think about what we're great at. And then two equip others, which is really the human experience, which is, it's a, called that master apprentice relationship or that mentorship or that sponsorship relationship where we bring people.

And what you're doing, not only as an individual with your organization is you're bringing people up through your program, but also you're bringing people up to say, you can also be a coach. You could help me do this. Now. It sounds like there's some other areas you want to go that maybe you need to replace yourself even further to say, okay I believe this could be something even more.

If I replace myself, Crema, transparently Crema is what? 60 people close to 60 people right now. And. that would be impossible. If I was still involved in client work, it would be impossible if I was still doing one on ones with everybody, it would be impossible if I thought I had to bring in every sale.

By replacing each or especially if I was designing screen still, but as I started to think about and mentor said, George you're smart.

Good job. You know how to get clients good job. But if, unless you wanna do this one to one, or maybe one to two relationship for the next X number of years, until you either sell this thing off, or you hand it to your kids or whatever you're gonna do with it, this is never gonna go anywhere.

Sarah: Yeah.

George: And that's such a hard thing to say, and I think it's true, even as you're starting your careers to go, okay, what do I wanna become great at? How do I think about teaching is learning and how do I think about helping others and bringing myself up and replacing myself as I learn new skills. And that's all part of the story.

Sarah: it's it reminds me. Do you, did you ever follow the. Flash designer and video guy Hillman Curtis. He wrote making the invisible, visible?

George: Yeah,

Sarah: So he passed away years ago, but before he passed away, he had this video all about reinvention.

George: Yeah.

Sarah: Reinventing yourself and his reinvention.

He started as a rock and roll guy. And then I don't know, like they did it for a while. And then he got into video and flash and storytelling and website design and everything. And I think this theme of reinvention is so important, especially. In our industry where it is still so new and the opportunities that are gonna be available five, 10 years from now, are so unknown in the context in which, you know, industries that might need more UX people than others.

Like who the heck knows, but it sounds like you've had to go through this reinvention. Process I'm going through it as I was literally recording SOPs of how to do this stuff this morning. So I don't have to do it anymore. but in the same way that I'm helping people design their careers and apply, product and sales and marketing to their careers.

On my to-do list is to write my job description of what I think I should do as the CEO. And it's a little terrifying. So I don't know.

George: Figure out what a CEO is supposed to do, let me know, cuz I that's a whole thing.

I always like to end on something positive and I think this is very positive, but what is something, moving forward, whether it's the future of your business, the future of the industry, future of the roles in the people that you're seeing coming up. What's something you're excited about where you just go, man, you know what? This is a good time to be alive. I'm excited that this is where things are going.

Sarah: Yeah, I think the exciting thing for me is that UX isn't just needed at like FAANG companies, where we started with this. There are so many. Industries and very different industries that can benefit from UX. Like we just had someone get hired at blue origin. I'm jealous, honestly.

Like I just wanna go do that, we had another person get hired at this healthcare startup, multiple healthcare startups, but one of them has to do with the world of travel nursing. And I'm like, that would be really interesting, and so seeing the impact that UX can have on not just.

The UX of Facebook, or Netflix or something, but having real impact, electronic medical records systems that needs so much help. And if you have a background in healthcare, that could be an awesome switch, move if you're getting in into UX. So yeah, the application of UX to everything, not just like techy type stuff.

George: I love it. I love it. Gosh, this has been fun.

Sarah: This has been fun.

George: Thank you. First off. Thank you for what you're doing. Like you said before, doing great things is hard and challenging, but I really appreciate you pushing in and going for it. So thank you for doing it and thank you for coming on the podcast today.

It was such a pleasure.

Sarah: we should do it again.

George: Sounds good. Thanks again.

Sarah: Bye.

George: We'll cut and thanks. That was great.

Sarah: Yeah, it was fun. It went in so many different directions.


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