I connected with Kostya in February whilst searching LinkedIn for experts to take out for coffee. We met a few weeks later, near Google’s London Victoria office, when he told me he’d just left his user researcher job (having conducted research for Google’s Voice and Virtual Assistant) there to begin his own UX labs focused startup venture.
Here’s what he had to say on taking the road less travelled in starting a UX research career.
Go Where You’re Needed
“Choose to work for a product that needs constant redevelopment. There’s a difference between working in UX in digital or marketing agencies, established companies, startups and part time workers. Consider applying as a UX workshop assistant as there’s a demand for them as and when.”
Understand Your Employers
“UX researcher positions are rarer than UX designers. Mostly because only either big or innovative companies think about research but everyone needs designers.”
“Applying to official positions can be tricky – if a company officially posted a position, that means they formally approved a head count within the organisation and have a list of requirements. Even if the person who needs your help wants to hire you, other people involved (like HR) can be a barrier because they focus on the formal side.”
Temp Your Way
“I’d contact researchers (not HR) on LinkedIn and ask if they need a temp or intern. It’s much easier for big companies to agree to a temp position for a project and then extend that to a full time position. If they don’t need anyone now, ask if you can contact them again in a couple of months. In research it’s common when nobody has a project to work on today and in a week people work 24 hours because they can’t find someone who can help.”
Do Your Own Projects
“UX research is becoming very agile and requires both an open mind to think laterally and scientific knowledge to make sure the collected data is valid. Add to your CV more examples from your past experience and research keywords that are relevant. It’s a good idea to create a product to be able to highlight the research stage. Just be bold, go and try any crazy research idea you can imagine.”