Futureheads have spoken with over a dozen UX Leaders to bring you some in some insights that should go a long way to helping you secure the right UX job for you in 2013.

This list is based on our first-hand experience and feedback from UX Leaders and Hiring Managers from some of the most established agency and in-house UX teams in the UK (full service agencies, design consultancies, investment banking, retail and travel).

1. Portfolio with deliverable examples and narrative around specific projects

Having a well thought-out portfolio showing off your skills and examples of your work is the most important tool in terms of getting your foot in the door with a potential employer. They’re generally considered more valuable than CV’s, and many companies won’t see you without one. A few key things to remember though – a good portfolio should include finished UX documentation AND sketches/workings.  Your portfolio is also only as good as your ability to intelligently and confidently talk through it project by project.

2. Confident and polished presentation skills

Your performance when presenting in an interview is considered to be a good gauge of how you will deal with similar situations once hired. Failure to prepare your interview presentation properly, and practice it a few times beforehand, could be the difference between securing your dream UX job and not!

3. Experience of working in teams

Having experience of working in a team is a must for the majority of the UX hiring Managers we work with. The most effective UX professionals work collaboratively with their peers, and have an understanding and appreciation of how to support creative and technical processes.

4. Strong Internal and external consulting skills

The ability to consult is an important part of any effective UX practitioner’s armoury, especially as you become more senior. This is particularly important for those working for a consultancy or agency where in-house stakeholders come from a range of industries, or in large organisations that don’t have a long history of user centred design practices.

5. Flexible and varied approach

Pragmatism is key! Being able to adjust your approach depending on timing and budgetary constraints is an asset many UX Managers look for. Couple that with having a broad toolkit of techniques you can conduct and outputs you can produce (user research, usability, interaction design etc) and you’re on to a winner.

6. Deep understanding of UCD

Showing some wireframes and reeling off a list of UX buzz terms isn’t enough to get you over the line with many UX Managers today. You need to be able communicate a deep understanding of UCD, ideally from research to launch, and how to apply UCD principles to solve real world business problems.

7. Ability to work across channels

Most of the leading agencies in the UK now design experiences across a range of different channels and devices – as do brands with established internal digital teams. To secure roles in these types of businesses you need to able to show prior experience of delivering multi-channel projects. Not having this experience isn’t necessarily a show stopper, as long as you can demonstrate a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities of designing across a variety of devices and operating systems.

8. Passionate about UX

A potential employee’s genuine passion for UX ranks highly as decision factor for many of our clients. Some of the most passionate UX professionals that walk through our doors are very driven and serious about self-development through reading, attending seminars and giving back to the industry in their own time. It isn’t just a 9 to 5!

9. HCI/Human Factors Degree

The foundation of theoretical understanding you gain by completing a degree in HCI, Human Centred Systems, Cognitive Psychology or Interaction Design is considered a huge plus, especially amongst our agency and consulting clients. Despite more universities offering this type of degree, City University and UCL are still the most recognised and highly regarded in the UK.

10. Experience and knowledge of Agile

More and more UX Managers we work with are looking for prior experience working in Agile teams, especially amongst our software and product clients. If you don’t have an awareness of Agile and its relationship with UX, now is the time to start doing some homework!

In conclusion: we recognise that priorities differ from company to company and role to role, so if you’re a UX Leader/Manager and you have views to share, feel free to comment or get in touch!

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