The title “UX Writer” has become a bit of a buzzword in tech communities. For many college grads, it seems like completely unknown territory — and certainly nothing your Shakespeare class prepared you for. How are you supposed to get a job in this awesome area when you don’t have any actual UX writing experience?
Here’s the great thing — you don’t always need UX experience. What you need is writing experience. Here’s five steps for creating a writing portfolio that’ll help you land the job, regardless of the type of work you’ve done so far:
1. Show variety in your work
Most of your work in UX will be short and concise. However, a good writer can do a little bit of everything. If you’re hired, you’ll be writing more than UI copy. Be able to speak to your writing process for each sample, and why you made specific decisions. This is your chance to prove you’ll have a big impact on the overall business, no matter what you’re tasked with.
Dig up your work from the past four years. Set up categories like editorial (e.g. sports columns, opinion pieces) or copywriting (e.g. infographics, social posts), then pick one piece for each category. Aim to stick to five types of examples total, so you don’t overwhelm the hiring manager.
2. Highlight the audiences you’ve written for
Do you tailor your voice and tone depending on your audience? Showing how you adapt your writing is key to proving you’ll be able to relate to the customer mindset once you’re hired.
Research a company’s voice and tone principles, then be able to speak to those principles in your own work. If you want to work at Microsoft, you’ll want to start at our brand voice guide.
3. Include personal writing or school work
You can show that you’re always writing or looking for opportunities with personal writing or school work — this also shows you’re a self-starter. In UX, you’ll be working with your product teams every day and it’s up to you, not your manager, to carry those projects forward.
Did you write a great paper that shows close reading skills? Do you post 🔥 social media posts? What about that screenplay? As long as it’s appropriate, these samples can show some personality and your ability to know when to be witty.
4. Improve a UX flow
Take a flow or screen that doesn’t quite make sense or could use creativity. Show how you’d improve the UI text within this flow. If you can add some ideas and insights into the design itself, give yourself some bonus points. Writing is an integral part of the design process.
Practically every website includes a 404 error page, but not many do it right. Write your own 404 error page for your favorite website explain why the UX would appeal to that customer base.
5. Explain complex problems in a simple way
A UX writer must break down complex topics and make them simple for their customer. Include a piece of writing that shows you can do this or write instructions for a technical task.
Explain how to change the oil in your car or turn a Terms of Agreement into three bullet points. Make it fun and creative, while also keeping the main points intact. Try to keep it under 200 words.
A few final things to watch out for:
- Know the fine line between creative and obnoxious. You’re trying to get hired — not go viral.
- Word choice matters.
- Yup, grammar matters too.
And remember — the people that view your portfolio want you to succeed! They brought you in for a reason, use your portfolio to prove them right.