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What makes a bad UX writer resume

Learn what’s wrong with 95% of UX writer resumes and how to make strategic improvements to your resume today.
bad ux writer resume
In: Job search

Your UX writer resume exists only to convince the recruiter or hiring manager you’re interesting and relevant enough to learn more about.

It’s your simple, scannable fact sheet. No more, no less.

And to do that effectively, you need to:

  1. View your resume as a product
  2. Know that less > more
  3. Empathize with the reader

Now, maybe that all sounds well and true, but what does a resume that makes you “interesting and relevant” look like? And how the heck am I supposed to write one?

We’re gonna start off with what not to do…

What’s wrong with 95% of UX writer resumes

Most resumes look like this:

bad ux writer resume

Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of resume that lands you the job. Yet, it’s what we’re taught to do.

So, what’s so wrong with this resume? At a high level, it requires a lot of time and attention from the recruiter or hiring manager to understand your background, and that’s time and attention you’re not getting in this competitive job market.

Let me break it down…

There are 5 things wrong with this kind of resume:

  1. It provides too much context
  2. The reader can’t understand the impact you had in a glance
  3. It focuses on your responsibilities, not what you accomplished
  4. It doesn’t explain how your past roles are relevant to UX writing
  5. It’s generic, not specific to a certain job
bad ux writer resume

Let me explain…

1. It provides too much context

Seems counterintuitive, right?

Wrong — your resume is your fact sheet, meaning it states the facts of your job history. Your UX writer cover letter exists to add color to your experience, why you do what you do, and show off your sparkling personality.

Since your cover letter exists to add context, don’t put too much context in your resume. Your UX writer resume should be laser-focused on outlining the cold, hard facts of your experience in a way that’s easily understood in a glance.

Take Pam’s summary section, for example:

bad ux writer resume

Did you actually read that? Or did you just glance at it, think, “Ah, that’s a lot to read,” and moved over to this line?

You’re no different from the recruiter or hiring manager. They have 100s of applicants to go through on top of full-time jobs to do. They don’t have the time to find out if you’re relevant and interesting — you need to make it easily obvious how and why they should learn more about you.

Caveat: This sucks, and it’s not the way hiring should be. But it’s the state of the world, where we have to fight for attention. Just want to acknowledge that it’s not right, IMO.

2. The reader can’t understand the impact you had in a glance

Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds on your resume and cover letter.

I have a little challenge for you… Put on a 6-second timer, and see how much of this you were able to take away:

bad ux writer resume

Me? I saw keywords like “product launches,” “marketing collateral,” and “design standards.” I didn’t actually read 80% of the words. That’s because there was no time to!

When you use multiple, long-winded bullet points, the reader has no way to prioritize the most important part of each role. What should they take away? What’s the one thing they should remember from that experience of yours? Because more than one take-away isn’t realistic in the way this world works.

What’s the alternative? We’re gonna go over that in a bit, but here’s a sneak peek:

bad ux writer resume

Speaking of what the reader should remember for your experience…

3. It focuses on your responsibilities, not what you accomplished

You get one take-away per role of yours. And ya gotta make that take-away count.

Which of these role descriptions is more impactful to you?

  1. Provided design direction for Athleap user interface and marketing collateral, contributing to product launches and marketing campaigns
  2. Led design direction company-wide, creating a positive brand perception and empathetic user experience with consistency

I’m guessing you picked the second one. That’s because it focuses on what you accomplished, not just what you did in your role.

By emphasizing the company-wide impact and not your day-to-day tasks, the reader quickly understands the importance of your role and has something to be interested in and want to learn more about. And that’s what we’re after when it comes to the UX writer resume.

4. It doesn’t explain how your past roles are relevant to UX writing

You don’t need to currently be a UX writer to make your UX writer resume relevant to UX writing.

Whether you’re currently a copywriter or an astronaut, I promise you there are ways you can make your resume relevant to UX writing and the design process. You just have to think about your experience with a new lens…

Let’s take Pam’s role at Athleap:

bad ux writer resume

Right now, as the reader, all I pull from this is a mix of product design and graphic design experience. There’s no mention of UX writing or the design process we all share.

But, Pam definitely did some UX writing or UX writing-y things in her role. We all do, again, whether you’re a copywriter or an astronaut.

While it might not seem immediately obvious, as a Senior Designer, Pam:

  • Strategized and developed user journeys to create empathic user experiences
  • Crafted compelling stories to guide users through experiences
  • Utilized systems thinking to create consistent experiences company-wide

That can be nicely packaged into a one-line descriptor that’s relevant to UX writing, like:

Designed empathetic user experiences by crafting compelling stories utilizing systems thinking, creating consistent, empathetic experiences company-wide

It’s more high level, but it leaves you intrigued and wanting to learn more about this person because they seem interesting and relevant to the job.

5. It’s generic, not specific to a certain job

The UX writer job description gives you everything the hiring manager is looking for on a silver platter. it’s just up to you to use it.

Pam’s resume is pretty generic. You can tell she made it once, and sends it with every single application.

That clear by the non-specific nature of her work experience:

bad ux writer resume

And by the generality of her skills section:

bad ux writer resume

But how do you make a big ‘ol UX writer resume relevant to every single UX writing job?

The key is to template-ize your UX writer resume. That means making it a fact sheet where you can plug and play different attributes different jobs are looking for.

Here’s how it works:

You start with a template resume with “base” role descriptions. Think of this as your starting off point. Here’s what Pam’s base description could look like for Athleap:

bad ux writer resume

Now, say Pam wants to apply for this job:

bad ux writer resume

The next step is to pick out specific language and keywords we can use in our resume, like this:

bad ux writer resume

Three that seem easy to plug and play in our base description for Athleap are:

  1. “Shaping our features and products”
  2. “Improve the product at every stage”
  3. “Impactful content”

And we can use those phrases to update our base description like this:

bad ux writer resume

By doing this, yes, it takes more time, but your resume is 10x more interesting and relevant to learn more about.

Happy UX writing 🖖

Written by
Slater Katz
As founder of The UX Gal, my mission is to make learning UX writing fantastically-simple and landing a job easy. I've held UX writing jobs at companies like Netflix, Fitbit, Verizon, Afterpay, & more.
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