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Landing your first role in Content Design

Five content design professionals share their journeys and advice on breaking into the field, discussing the importance of skill-building, portfolio creation, interview preparation, and leveraging unique experiences to transition into content design.

Welcome back to another exciting installment of our Perspectives series! This time, we're bringing you a panel discussion that's packed with valuable insights and advice from five seasoned content design professionals. Jonathon Colman, Jadesola Odujole-Babatunde, Mel Wilk, Miriam Vaswani, and Aishah Griffin come together to share their experiences and wisdom on breaking into the field of content design and landing your first role.

In this engaging discussion, our panelists delve into the challenges and opportunities that aspiring content designers face when starting their careers. They discuss the importance of showcasing your skills, building a strong portfolio, and preparing for interviews, while also emphasizing the value of leveraging your unique experiences and backgrounds to transition into content design.

Meet our panelists

Photo of Jonathon Colman
Jonathon ColmanSenior Design Manager, Content Design practice lead at HubSpot
Photo of Jadesola Odujole-Babatunde
Jadesola Odujole-BabatundeSenior Content Designer and UX/UI Writer at Sky
Photo of Mel Wilk
Mel WilkContent + Product Design at Mailchimp
Photo of Miriam Vaswani
Miriam VaswaniSenior Content Designer and Squad Lead at SPARCK
Photo of Aishah Griffin
Aishah GriffinContent Designer at Square

About this panel

In this dynamic panel discussion, five experienced content designers from diverse backgrounds share their journeys and offer valuable advice on breaking into the field of content design. The panelists, Jonathon Colman, Jadesola Odujole-Babatunde, Mel Wilk, Miriam Vaswani, and Aishah Griffin, provide a wealth of insights and practical tips for aspiring content designers looking to land their first role.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists emphasize the importance of showcasing your skills and building a strong portfolio. They share their own experiences and strategies for demonstrating their abilities and presenting their work in a compelling way, even if they don't have previous content design experience.

The panel also delves into the topic of interview preparation, offering advice on how to effectively communicate your value and potential to employers. They discuss the significance of understanding business goals, collaborating with different teams, and advocating for user-centered design principles.

Another key theme that emerges from the discussion is the value of leveraging your unique experiences and backgrounds to transition into content design. The panelists share their own career paths, which span a range of industries and roles, and encourage aspiring content designers to draw upon their diverse skill sets and perspectives to bring value to the field.

Additionally, the panelists stress the importance of continuous learning and professional development. They discuss the benefits of taking courses, attending conferences, and seeking mentorship to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists also touch on the topic of applying for roles that may seem out of reach. They encourage aspiring content designers to be bold and confident in their abilities, and not to let imposter syndrome or a lack of experience hold them back from pursuing their goals.

This panel is a must-watch for anyone looking to break into the field of content design and navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with starting a career in this exciting and growing field. The insights and advice shared by these five experienced professionals are invaluable for anyone looking to make their mark in the world of content design.

Other videos in this series

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How to look like you know what you're doing (even if you don't)

Ben Dudley offers practical advice for new UX writers on how to navigate the first six months in a new role or company, sharing insights from his own journey and emphasizing the importance of learning from mistakes, celebrating successes, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Maps, meetings, & mess-making: Building a united strategy team
Maps, meetings, & mess-making: Building a united strategy team

Marissa Epstein shares her experience in establishing a unified Strategy department at Lullabot, emphasizing the importance of collaboration, defining services, and mapping the client's journey to create consistent and intentional work as a team.

Building teams on trust
Building teams on trust

Sarah Johnson explores the impact of trust on team performance, sharing insights from her experience at CVS and providing guidance on how to build thriving teams through authentic leadership.

Lessons learned from the panel

Showcase your skills and build a strong portfolio

All five panelists emphasize the importance of showcasing your skills and building a strong portfolio when applying for content design roles. They advise aspiring content designers to demonstrate their ability to apply human-centered design principles, even if their previous experience is in a different field. Miriam suggests focusing on the process and impact of your work, rather than just the final product, while Aishah recommends using your portfolio to show how you approach content design and the challenges you've overcome.

Prepare for interviews by understanding business goals and advocating for user-centered design

The panelists discuss the significance of preparing for interviews by understanding business goals and advocating for user-centered design. Aishah stresses the importance of knowing how to collaborate with different teams and understanding the requirements and constraints that affect your work. Jadesola advises asking questions and demonstrating problem-solving skills during interviews, while Miriam suggests practicing with a trusted colleague to build confidence and receive feedback.

Leverage your unique experiences and backgrounds to transition into content design

The panel highlights the value of leveraging your unique experiences and backgrounds to transition into content design. Mel shares her journey from copywriting to content design, emphasizing the importance of building relevant skills and seeking out projects that align with your goals. Miriam encourages aspiring content designers to try new things and build their careers around core skills that they consistently enjoy and want to develop.

Continuously learn and seek out professional development opportunities

The panelists stress the importance of continuous learning and professional development in the field of content design. Mel and Aishah discuss the benefits of taking courses and bootcamps to build skills and create a structured learning experience, while Miriam suggests using articles, conference talks, and mentorship to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.

Don't be afraid to apply for roles that seem out of reach

Throughout the discussion, the panelists encourage aspiring content designers to be bold and confident in their abilities, and not to let imposter syndrome or a lack of experience hold them back from pursuing their goals. Aishah shares her own experience of applying for a senior role despite not meeting all the requirements, while Miriam advises against self-disqualification and encourages applicants to focus on demonstrating their potential to learn and grow in the role.

By implementing the lessons shared by these five experienced content design professionals, aspiring content designers can navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with breaking into the field and landing their first role. Building a strong portfolio, preparing for interviews, leveraging unique experiences, continuously learning, and being bold in their job search are all key strategies for success in the exciting and growing field of content design.

About Perspectives Conf

This talk is part of Track #1 - Breaking into content design of the 2022 edition of our conference.

Perspectives Conf is the world’s first event specifically focused on the careers side of content. It’s been carefully curated to help people at all levels navigate the many facets of working in content – from being the first content person to hiring and growing a team.

Logo of Perspectives 2022 event
See full Perspectives 2022 program

Transcript of the talk

00:05 Gooood-Thursday Perspectives.

00:09 This is not an AB test. This is your first live panel. Hey folks in America. Is it too early to be this loud, too late?

00:18 Hey, I'm Jonathon Colman from HubSpot and I am thrilled to welcome everyone to our first panel of Perspectives, Breaking into content design and landing first roles.

00:29 I'm going to start by introducing each of our speakers today. Uh, they are all rock stars and I can't wait for you to get to know them.

00:36 We have Aishah Griffin, a marketing content designer at Shopify Jadesola_Odujole-Babatunde_content designer at Chipper Cash, Mel Wilk, a senior content designer at IBM and Miriam Vaswani content design consultant for Spark.

00:54 Please give them a massive round of applause in Slack. Yeah, go for it. Love it. And please feel free to ask our panelists any questions on your mind in the track 1 Q and A channel.

01:08 You can mention any of them and they'll follow up with you after our panel is complete. Okay. Let's get stuck in, uh, everyone in the panel.

01:17 Can you each briefly tell us two things, how did you break in to your first content design role? That's first and second.

01:26 What is one key thing you learned from that experience? Miriam, we're going to start with you and then please pass to another panelist.

01:34 Take it away.

01:36 Okay. Um, thank you, Jonathan. So my first content design role was a few years ago now. Um, it wasn't advertised as a content design role.

01:46 Um, it was, I was responsible for, um, a web product with a lot of editorial content. It was a digital magazine and, um, I got that role initially because I had experience as a journalist and particularly as a digital journalist and as a technical writer.

02:03 Um, and also because I have a lot of international experience and that magazine had a big international audience. Um, but when I, when I took on the role, I wanted very much to use best practice.

02:15 Um, and so I started investigating content design, human centered design, and basically turned it into a content design role. And one thing that I learned from the experience, I mean, there were so many things it's really hard to pick one.

02:33 Um, but the one that stood out to me in that first year was not to make assumptions about users. Um, so even with loads of loads of experience, you never really know what the user experience is until you see the evidence.

02:52 Nice one who wants to go next,

02:57 I'll pass it over to Aishah.

03:00 Thanks. Um, my first true content design role, um, I guess it would have to be in the role that I'm in now is actually my title is content designer.

03:11 Um, and it was just the building up of years tasting experiences that I wanted that I felt would, uh, ultimately lead me to a design role.

03:23 Um, and then I guess the, uh, one thing I learned along the way was how to sell myself and I hate selling.

03:33 I got fired from a bunch of jobs, but I had to learn how to sell myself beyond my ability to write and specifically my product thinking and how words truly shape experiences and account for future changes.

03:50 And I'll pass.

03:56 Hi everyone. Hi Perspectives. Say it's probably, I guess, how did I get my first content design? I'll do that. This is off the shelf content.

04:12 And so I said team, he was going like the content strategy in a different company, but it was still like mostly marketing, right?

04:22 So this is my first design, you know, user experience goes for my company. And what would I say is the key thing, right?

04:32 I said, marketing but. I said, advocating for UX writing and content design, um, in, in that space. Right. So I knew that I was, I was in marketing but I knew that I wanted to do UX writing.

04:48 I wanted to be in that content design space. So even in that I was in a startup, I know you get to wear different hats.

04:56 So I started design UX writing, and that's how I got in here. So I'll say that for me, that's like the key thing.

05:07 Um, does it doesn't matter where you are where starting from, um, if you're in marketing and journalism, you kind of start advocating for content design, um, user experience focused writing, and then from there, you know, like land your first rule.

05:27 Yeah. I would love to build on that. Um, because I started doing content design by accident because I started my career as a digital copywriter and my first job happened to be at an experienced design agency.

05:43 So I got to work on a project that touched on, you know, working with UX research and, um, and IA and content strategy and all these things.

05:56 I didn't know what were, but I knew that I really enjoyed it and I wanted to learn more about it.

06:02 So, um, after that experience, it was just sort of fumbling along, trying to like build those skills and then learning that they're all part of content design.

06:16 And, um, once I understood what content design was, then I, you know, prepared myself to get my first content design job, which I will in this panel.

06:31 Nice one, fantastic everyone. Uh, it's great for us all to get to know you a little bit better. Um, so, uh, my next question is over to Aishah.

06:40 Um, Hey, do you think people need a boot camp or a certification or coursework, things like that to get their first job in content design, uh, in our chats, you, you had mentioned, uh, that you took a book, a bootcamp.

06:52 How, how did that help you?

06:55 Um, well the bootcamp helped me have like a structured approach to understanding the design process and also just like creating a portfolio and having something that I could show, um, in that regard, but needing a certification or a bootcamp, I guess it just depends on what you need.

07:18 Like what skill gaps you have. Um, just thinking about the type of work that you want to do as a content designer and seeing like what you're missing skills wise and then choosing a path that works best for you, your finances and your family.

07:37 Nice one that makes. Uh, just so much sense Mel you've also got a certification. Do you think people need to take a course to find that first content design job?

07:47 Or can they use resources like, like articles or conference talks or maybe find a mentor?

07:54 So I think everyone who's presented today has such amazing advice on this topic. Um, I'll share my personal experience without having Perspectives.

08:04 And also I'm seeing a lot of entry level content design jobs posted. So I think things might be a little different now, but when I was looking for my first content design job, I was juggling parenting a baby and a toddler.

08:17 So I wanted a fast way to ramp up and demonstrate my experience. So I took UX writing fundamentals from UX Content Collective, and I decided to work part time and do that course in six weeks.

08:29 So like as if it was a bootcamp and then I launched my intense job search. Um, at that point I turned to articles and talks while researching content design roles in different industries.

08:41 And last year I found myself job searching again, and then I took careers course, which includes a detailed interview prep guide, um, and a mentorship session.

08:53 And I think about if I hadn't taken what the opportunity cost would be, I would have lost time from a longer job search and also potentially lost income from a longer period of unemployment.

09:06 I love that you brought up interviews, uh you joined Chipper Cash about six months ago. How did you prepare for interviews with them?

09:14 What was that like for you?

09:16 I mean, it was my first, like my first interaction with it, proper tech company's, interview process, you know? Yeah, yeah.

09:27 In his initial time having like four interviews with different people. And so for me, that was like my first interaction with, I mean, when I go to be invited or actually scheduling time with, for interviews, I was like, what's going on here?

09:40 You just talk to somebody and that would be it. Um, so for me, the things that helped me, um, the screen out calls, you know, the recruiter calls they helped, you know, to prepare well, I also took some time out to read some books.

09:54 Um, I read, uh to-I um, Jessie read cause , um, Strategy for UX writing, I think. And then this Connected Design I read, I remember reading those two books cause I had like, uh, sometime before my interviews.

10:12 And then, um, one thing that I knew that helped me was I went in with the mindset of being like, it's not about my answers, right?

10:23 It's not about the answers to the questions. It's, it's how I'm able to solve problems is how I'm able to answer questions.

10:31 So, um, as much as I, you know, the questions that you, I think it was, um, one of the speakers before Cara, she shared how to prepare for like mock crits, you know, deep questions, portfolio review, all of that, um, mostly importantly for you.

10:47 And that, that was really great. I, I even took some notes but the most important thing. for you is to know that it's not just about the questions because any UX rule.

10:56 Yeah. Basically comments ask questions you're coming to understand how to solve problems. And for me, knowing that helped me go through the interview process.

11:04 Like I remember when I was doing, um, like a copy, you know, it was a technical bit of the, of the interview key.

11:12 How do you edit this copy and all of that, I was about to just go in assessing or change this, this one doesn't look nice.

11:18 I said, I just thought that he, who is what are we writing for, why exactly do we want to change this just asking questions and that went with that mindset just helped me.

11:29 Uh, I'll say that helped me. I think I, yeah.

11:33 Excellent, great insights. And Miriam, you've worked in a number of content related roles, including a lead level role. Uh, what, what do you think interviewers look for?

11:44 Well, as an interviewer, I often look for often look more at what a person can do rather than what they have done.

11:53 Um, and I not to say that what a person has done is not important, but some of the people who have impressed me the most in, in interviews, um, both in content design and in communications and other fields are people who understand the principles.

12:09 of the job they're applying for and what's expected of them and demonstrate how they've applied those same principles in a different role with different experience.

12:20 Um, but one example I could give you is a round of interviews. I did a couple of years ago, um, where there were, I think four or five candidates, um, and several of the candidates had, they ticked all the boxes.

12:33 You know, they had done all the things that they would be doing in the job that they were applying for, but they weren't able in the interview to demonstrate, um, how they got to that process and their thinking and what they do and what they don't do.

12:48 And the person who, um, who I eventually hired for the job was someone who didn't tick all the boxes. Um, they may be ticked about half of the boxes, but they were able, they understood that the things required of them with the human centered design.

13:02 And for people unfamiliar with that term. It means that we think about the person who will use the products as we design it.

13:10 Um, they were able to show how they use that principle in slightly different work examples in the past. And so I could see really clearly how they would apply that same thinking to the role they were applying for.

13:24 That's I love that you brought this up, uh, human centered design, uh, Aishah, uh, I'm curious, um, a lot of us focus on writing in our work.

13:32 And so to this idea of sort of ticking the boxes outside of writing, what are some skills that people should develop and be able to show to their potential employers?

13:43 Yeah, good question. Um, definitely understanding business goals. Um, I think as UX writers, we're naturally inclined to think about our users, um, but working with companies and because of capitalism, we have to keep the business goals first, um, even using it as a way, using that as our platform to

14:05 push for more ethical design and content. Um, also knowing how to collaborate with different teams, engineering, product, marketing, legal, um, everybody just to understand different requirements and restraints, um, that affect your writing and how you talk about the product or in the product.

14:27 Um, knowing which questions to ask who to ask anyone, to ask them, uh, visual design, definitely for me, I'm finding is one of my weaker points that I wish I knew more about, just so I can think of ways to communicate, um, the design better and communicate what I want to say beyond the words.

14:45 And also just thinking about any type of third party connections that your product has and whatever the restraints in requirements for working with those companies.

14:56 Those are such great tips, Jadesola. So what do you think, uh, what do you think hiring managers expect to see and, and what would you advise people to do so that they can, they can stand out from other folks?

15:11 I mean, so typically know how people, go the route, you know, you develop, you have your portfolio where you put these together, I've edited this created, this copy and all of that.

15:23 So definitely your hiring manager expect to see like your body of work or your portfolio, you know, for me, I don't have a portfolio.

15:32 We'll come to that. I don't, I don't have a portfolio, but, um, you would expect to, uh, what do expect to see that, you know, what your work or something, I don't have a portfolio where I have links to some work that I've done.

15:47 So maybe I should clarify that. Um, so I'll say one thing you can do to stand out, right. Um, like I should've mentioned it's, it's not just about creating copy right.

15:59 One of the things that I know that helped me, or I think helped me is the fact that I also took the same course, like the landing, the principles of design and being able to now, I mean, bring that into content design.

16:17 So when I'm interacting with designers, I know what, say, I know, I know exactly how to make decisions. It's not just about oh we need to change the copy.

16:26 We need to add a screen. That's basically why like that principles behind it being able to bring that in. So I think being able to it does, it helps to take a course it helps take a content design UX writing course, but also focus on the design part.

16:45 I'm not talking about, you know, the visual design, you know, making things beautiful, but the principles of design so that when you're making decisions, when you get to three things, you'd be able to stand up to.

16:59 That's brilliant. Uh, since we're talking a lot about portfolios, let's dig into that a bit. Um, a lot of companies are asking content designers to show their past work or do writing exercises.

17:10 Uh, this is a question to all panelists. I'm curious, how would each of you advise people to prepare for this sort of thing?

17:16 What does good look like? Or what should you do if you don't have any past content design work to show Mel what, let, let's start with you.

17:28 Um, so this is where I'm going to talk about being self-employed. Um, I was self-employed as a content strategist and also continuing to be a copywriter before I, uh, went for my first job in content design and, um, building on what Aishah said about job, about business needs, understanding business

17:53 needs. Um, I don't think anything gets you closer to understanding business needs than freelancing because usually, you know, the smaller the business, the more in line you are with the owner or someone who's close to the owner, or, you know, whether the founder or whoever it is.

18:10 Um, and then, you know, there's, there's not all those layers in the middle. Like you don't even have a product manager for example, or a creative director, whoever it is.

18:21 So, um, that's really like where you've got to kind of hit the nail on the head and you have to learn to advocate for yourself.

18:29 Um, and that is so important when you have lots of stakeholders. Um, so like, uh, you know, Ben touched on that a lot in his talk.

18:44 Nice one, uh, Aishah, what do you think?

18:48 Um, I think your portfolio is like your first impression of how you approach content design. So using that as a way to like, show how you work and making it just really clear, um, why you're showing what you're showing, what the impact you had on that project was and who you worked with and any challenges

19:13 that you had when you were working with them or like, what was the final outcome of it?

19:19 I love that point about showing the outcome. That's something a lot of folks, miss, um, brilliant point, uh, Miriam, what do you think?

19:25 What, what's your killer tip for a, for a good portfolio?

19:29 I think, um, I think one important thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be really glamorous to be effective.

19:39 You don't have to have big prestigious projects on your portfolio. Um, it can be just as valuable to show how you, how you built an MVP.

19:50 Um, as long as like my colleagues have just said, you know, you show, show your work, show what you've done, show what the impact is and show your own role in that as well.

20:01 Um, and I think, you know, practical things like saving screenshots as you go along, there's so many things that happen during a design that you forget.

20:10 Um, so right now I'm working on a side project and, um, the things I've saved for my portfolio are screenshots of, um, the brainstorm that we did on a Miro board, uh, with, you know, just few, few post-its.

20:27 Um, and I've been taking notes of problems that we've solved. There's so many small problems solve along the way that you'll forget straight away.

20:35 And the better you get at content design, the more you'll forget, or maybe not just a consequence of aging.

20:44 I love that. I feel like that's the quote of the panel.

20:48 Oh, no, but I think just to touch on what you said about not having experience, if you haven't worked on a content design project before, there's things you can do.

20:59 Like, as I mentioned before, showing the way it showing human centered principles in your design, um, I've uh, on one of my old portfolios, um, I had an example of crisis communications, which is pretty unusual, but it was there to show the process of thinking about what the end user needs and getting

21:22 from where we start to delivering that and understanding the impact of that.

21:28 That's fantastic. And then Jadesola, uh, any, any tips for beginners who may not have worked to show or, or something you've learned, uh, from showing your own work?

21:38 Um, for me, I'll do it, I don't have a portfolio, what I have needs the password. And I know is one of the things that said is tasked me with the next course.

21:52 I should make sure I have a portfolio. Um, but I would say that one of the things that I wish I could have done differently, so I've done in my, in my, my resume.

22:01 I have, you know, I did this, that's, you know, results heading into this, um, like my achievements, my contents, um, work that actually, uh, made an impact.

22:13 So if I can do things different, you know, some of those spaces that works now, I don't have, you know, it's a product I don't have, you know, insights if silky, I want to take a screenshots of what this looks like and all of that.

22:26 I'll say, take as many screenshots take as many, um, you know, just as much as proprietary.

22:34 And remember that is also, um, the company's, uh, intellectual property. And you're not stepping on any toes if you need to change names do that.

22:43 So any place that you have advocates, you already advocate for the start building those things, you know, in bits and pieces.

22:54 If you see a piece of copy that, oh, this can probably sound better. Oh, I don't understand. That's actually a very good place to start and an app.

23:02 This is something like it's label. Like it made you pause, it made you stop and think, what can you do better?

23:09 Take eight, take notes of it, and then edit it. So put that aside, you can have a document or just dumping those things so that when you are eventually ready to do that portfolio or that piece of work, then you can bring up the speeds.

23:23 I'm saying it's like, well, what I would have done differently. Yeah. That, that works.

23:28 I love it. So much of this has been about capturing your thinking as you go. Uh, just so, so you don't lose it.

23:33 Um, and you can refer to it again in the future. As you interview Mel question for you, you mentioned earlier, you're, you've, uh, been, self-employed doing content strategy and copywriting work as a consultant and contractor I'm curious, how does this change the experience of breaking into content

23:51 design for you? Would you advise people to go this route?

23:56 I definitely would. Um, because I think you can kind of work backwards. So if you're looking at a role you want and you feel like there's a gap between, um, the role you want and where you are now, then write down what those things are.

24:17 And, um, what would help you learn those things? Like in terms of real experience that will give you the confidence to go for that job.

24:25 And then that gap gets narrower. So, um, you have to be selective about the work you're doing. Like don't go on Upwork and write articles that have nothing to do with the skills that you want to get.

24:42 Um, just because, you know, you want to get paid this much, like yeah, like that part's hard, but, um, yeah, like get projects that have those skills.

24:57 Um, so what client, work can you take on? Um, and think about, I tried to think about my career. Like I was doing an internship, like I was an internal over again, but I had to make my own internship or make my own apprenticeship, um, while trying to get yourself paid.

25:18 Nice one. Uh, so Miriam, we know that a lot of people change careers, but perhaps many times before they land in a content design role, based on your experience doing this, what do you think people should know in order to be successful in getting to content design?

25:35 Um, well, when I started my career content design didn't exist as a profession, or I should say it wasn't recognized as a profession.

25:44 Um, and you know, in retrospect there was a lot of work. I did the what's content design back then. I just didn't know it.

25:53 Um, uh, I have I've changed career a couple of times. Um, but mostly I've built my career, um, around, uh, a few core skills.

26:06 Um, so that's my, that's my advice for somebody who wants to change careers successfully, try lots of things. Find, find things that you like get really good at them.

26:18 And they won't, you know, you don't know what you're going to love or what you're going to want to do until you've done.

26:22 It usually, um, base your career around those things that you consistently want to do until you retire, maybe even beyond.

26:32 Um, so for me, that was, um, writing. I've been writing for a long time, um, combined with international communication, um, evidence-based work and a couple of other things, it will be very different for everybody.

26:46 Um, but those core skills are things that I've been able to use as a content designer, as a crisis communicator, as a journalist, as a technical writer, as an editor.

26:59 I love that idea of core skills and building them up no matter what role you're in Aishah, you transitioned from customer service and technical writing, uh, into content strategy for NASA, Spotify.

27:12 And now Shopify, what advice do you have for someone wanting to build experience within their current communications or content role before moving into content design?

27:23 Um, yeah, I mean, really, it's just what Miriam said just using those skills that you have from those other roles and building on them and finding ways to do get the work done that you were hired to do, but also infusing a bit of UX into it.

27:40 So for me, um, as a technical writer, um, talk to the support team to see, oh, is this documentation helpful for you or are people using this documentation?

27:51 How can I make this easier for you if you're working on like tech docs for engineers, like how can you make their job easier navigating that?

28:00 Um, and just thinking about it from a holistic, um, perspective of like the user journey, like for me, information architecture and user journeys process, that was a big thing for me as a technical writer.

28:13 So I just built on those skills and was relentless in finding opportunities that helped me build on that. And same as Mel was saying,

28:23 I love that that's brilliant. Um, and just, uh, cheers to you for being relentless. I think that's usually what it takes to get into like that first role that you're, you're really trying hard to get into Mel.

28:34 I'd also love to hear from you, what are some of the more common paths that folks take, uh, into content design from other fields?

28:43 Yeah, I feel like I'm playing ping pong with Aishah. So, um, I get to kind of talk about it from the marketing perspective.

28:51 Um, so yeah, I mentioned that my first role as a baby copywriter, I had the luck of having a great project fall into my lap.

29:00 Um, and it had a lot of UX content work in its scope. So like information architecture, content migration. So it was basically like we were doing a brand refresh for business and building a new website for them that was unifying six lines of business under one umbrella.

29:19 So, you know, then I found out about content strategy and UX design and research and how they all come together in this end product and all the different streams of work that go into that process.

29:33 And it's so important to be able to see that. I think if you have the opportunity to work on a website, that's a great way of doing I'm sure there are some other ways too like, um, as a technical writer, for example, um, it doesn't take a project of that scope to start learning these skills in your

29:51 own job. But I think like being a builder in your job is, is key just to take it through that journey.

30:00 Um, one book that influenced me early in my career was, um, Nicely said by Kate Keifer Lee and Nicole Fenton.

30:08 And, um, that really helped me understand, like writing and content strategy from a web perspective. And so much of that is relevant to what we do.

30:18 I love that brilliant book. Uh, I hope folks are capturing in the chat, uh, all these great book recommendations. Um, uh, I I've read all of these.

30:27 They're just so helpful. Um, Jadesola let let's shift over to you. You've worked in a number of different roles in tech and outside of tech.

30:36 And so I'm curious are tech companies, the only places where content designers can work and should they choose to work in tech if other opportunities are available, what do you think?

30:51 So this is kind of tricky, right? Uh, why do I say tricky? You know, what was, for example, what can any media any news company?

31:01 Have the websites, right? When I'm doing, when I'm working on the blog posts, or I'm doing news at schools, I'm not doing, I'm not, advocating for content design I'm doing my editorial work.

31:13 But if I asked you to do something that is like, let's talk to users, how do I, how do they find our websites an application?

31:21 How does that application, um, help their, you know, land websites and things like that, then I'm doing more, um, I've moved on to user experience side of the side of things.

31:34 So I feel like it's more in like what you're doing, right? It's more in the, in the, the activities in tech companies, because a lot of them are like you sell products, you know, websites, apps, it's a lot easier for you to find those rules, right?

31:55 Well, outside of tech, you might have to advocate a lot for content design. You might have to advocate a lot for UX writing.

32:03 I would say that like, and also we kind of, we can't remove the fact that tech companies pay more than, you know, some of this traditional.

32:12 We can't remove, you know, that, that bit, so I'll say that you don't necessarily have to choose to work in tech.

32:19 if like where you are. I tell people, start where you are, start from, what you're doing, right. That's if you are like, I don't mean too far off the tangent, you need to switch to tech.

32:31 Right? Well, it's start from where you are. For example, I gave the example of what can any media and news company was the advocating for content design.

32:41 That's a good example. So then you can now switch to tech.

32:45 I say, we keep fighting. I want to be this way. It's not like, it's all peaches. and roses. I tell you, tell you about and everybody who does it.

32:54 Well, go ahead and do that. It's not like it's, oh, you know, rosy. And things like, that but a lot.

33:00 Like, at least your people understand why you get, why you say, oh, I need to speak to users, why are we doing this?

33:06 When you ask the questions, it's not like, what exactly are you doing? You get, it's more. Yes. You get to you.

33:13 You are, you are, you have more people speaking your language and understanding what you're trying to do. So, yeah. That's

33:21 I love that. That's so good. Uh, Miriam you've worked in a lead role and, and something I know folks are wondering about out there is, Hey, there aren't a lot of junior or associate roles being posted, but there are lots of mid-level senior lead roles and so on.

33:37 So what do you think should people apply for that mid-level role, even if they don't check all the boxes or, or feel ready for it?

33:46 Yes, I think, yeah. It, in short, if you feel, if you think you can do the job objectively, then yes.

33:54 I think you should. Um, there's a, there's a statistic that's been quoted so many times over the last decade of, um, I think it was from a Hewlett Packard internal survey.

34:05 Um, that's if there's a job, um, women will often not apply until they have a hundred percent of meet a hundred percent of the criteria and men will often apply when they meet about 60%.

34:19 So people are applying without a hundred percent of the criteria. And I think, I think the best way to approach that, and I've applied for jobs.

34:30 I don't think I've ever felt fully equipped for any of the jobs I've applied for until I start doing them.

34:37 Um, I usually make a list, the things I, I know I can demonstrate pretty easily, um, and the things that I'm not sure about.

34:45 And then I dig into those things a bit that I'm not sure about. And look for examples of when I've, when I've shown the ability to do those things.

34:54 Um, I like to practice as well with a trusted colleague. I find that very helpful, um, to just get someone, to fire a few questions at me and practice responding to those, um, and getting some feedback that way.

35:08 It's good. If you choose someone really tough someone who's not afraid of hurting your feelings. Um, and I think, you know, one example I could give you is, um, actually now I'm not going to give another example.

35:26 I think that's it basically look at what you're good at. Look at what you're not sure about and practice the things you're not sure about.

35:32 And you know, if you're not right for the job, you probably won't get it. That's the worst thing that will happen.

35:38 Um, but if you do get it, then someone, someone has had faith in you and you've got an opportunity now to learn, and we're all learning in the early stages of a new job.

35:49 I love that. I love the idea of asking for help. And then, uh, that we're all always learning. Uh, Aishah, what do you think?

35:56 Um, I just want to encourage everybody if it says senior apply anyway, that's how I got the job I have now.

36:05 It was for a senior marketing content designer and I applied anyway, and I'm not a senior, but I'm in there.

36:14 You are now. Yeah. Mel, what do you think?

36:19 Um, I just wanna say that, um, it's really about the hiring manager that looks at your application and you know, whether they get it right.

36:33 Cause some of them don't, some of them want someone who's perfect, like fine, let them look for their perfect person.

36:38 But to give you a real example, like my first content design was at Chase and Chase has tons of content design hiring managers.

36:47 And the first time I applied, I got rejected. But then the recruiter reached out to me a couple of weeks later and said, there's a hiring manager on another team who would like to talk to you.

36:58 Um, so I'm just going to port your application over to this other job. I said, absolutely. So, um, yeah. You, you, you don't know, you just have to try.

37:08 Yeah, absolutely trying is so important Jadesola. What do you think, do you have a strong opinion on this

37:14 I mean, I'm an advocate, for I don't disqualify myself. before I do something, let, let the person on the other side, be the one to disqualify me.

37:25 Right. I would, I have a , uh, why, like, how did I get this? And it's just like, I applied that, just forgot oh.

37:36 I've done that. That's how, I mean, by like, like when I meet senior junior, I'm, going forit, I dropped my application and I'm like, cause I know that I've tailored my resume I've done everything and I'm.

37:49 Fine. I'm good. I wouldn't shoot myself. I say, oh, because it's senior. Or they said, my needs like this let's talk then, you know, if I'm good enough,

38:02 Can I add something to that? Um, absolutely reminded me of, um, some, sometimes the best advice comes when you don't expect it.

38:13 A few years ago, I was dithering over a job that I wanted to apply for, but I wasn't sure if I was able to do it.

38:20 And I, I was really, um, bringing myself down about it, I think. And I was having lunch with a friend and she said, oh, for goodness sake, don't get in your own way.

38:32 There's enough people that will do that and really stayed with me. And I took her advice. I didn't get in my own way.

38:39 I still endeavor not to get in my own way.

38:46 Nice one. Um, so, uh, we're almost out of time. So, uh, we got to do a lightning round here on this.

38:53 The last question we have, which is okay, you know, half the battle is getting the job in the first place, but then you need to actually do the job.

39:01 So let's say that you've made it, you've landed that first content design role, uh, each panelist. Can you tell us one valuable lesson that you each learned in your first year on the job?

39:19 I will go first. I would say, um, if you're not the first UX writer on your team, that you should shadow the person whose job is closest to what you're going to be doing.

39:32 That's not even my idea. Luckily, um, when, when I was in my first role at Chase, I was lucky to be in a larger product team that had other UX writers on it and a lead on my team invited me to shadow him to all of his meetings.

39:47 Um, then he went on vacation three weeks after I started, and I was able to cover him, uh, cover for him for his projects.

39:55 So after that, my manager gave me the green light to take over some of his work. So I think that worked out really well,

40:02 So good. Who wants to go next?

40:05 I'll go next. Um, I guess similar to Mel, um, just find your people where you're at. Um, maybe if it's not an established practice, then look outside of where you're at.

40:18 Um, but for me, I like to join places that have an established content design, discipline, and lean on their experience for things that they've already done.

40:28 Um, so that I'm not reinventing the wheel and making it harder on myself.

40:40 Don't be afraid of asking questions. So I'll give an example. So talk comes to me, it's me. Oh, we need to do this.

40:49 We need to send out this message to users it's urgent. And I'm like, okay? So why what's the reason? Like, sometimes it sounds like when I'm asking the question, like I know, like I seem, like, a roadblock .

41:03 Like I can feel it. Right. But I've seen situations where questions that I've asked, all the tiny questions I've asked, I've been able to advise.

41:15 Oh no. We shouldn't say that, oh, no, this is actually, and I'm like, okay. So if I didn't ask this question, that's how this is the score out like that.

41:23 So don't be afraid of asking questions. Don't lose that sense. It's easy to be called jaded and just be like everybody just do what they're doing.

41:33 Like don't lose that sense of asking questions way. He getting them to make room for that content design that pause.

41:45 That's each pause that says stop. I think, why should we do this? Don't lose that sense don't that sense at all.

41:52 Even after year,

41:56 Um, one really important thing I learned in the early days is to invest some time in letting your stakeholders talk, especially if you've got some tricky stakeholders.

42:07 Um, if people, if people aren't used to the concepts of user centered design or human centered design, it can be quite a threatening thing.

42:16 And it also also takes them awhile, um, to get to that point where they can tell you what the user and the user need might be.

42:25 Um, before you even start doing your research and figuring that out. Um, it, one, one thing I, one mistake I made was trying to help people get to that point, but it's often better to just dedicate some time to listening.

42:42 And eventually that person will get to the point where they tell you what you need to know, and then you can reformulate it for them and it builds trust.

42:50 Um, and it also helps you, it saves you time in the long run,

42:56 Fantastic, uh, such great tips and advice. And wow, this panel has been so amazing. I know I've got heaps of takeaways from our discussion and I'm sure that our audience do as well.

43:07 Um, so it's time for us to wrap up. So thank you again so much and Miriam for sharing your time and expertise.

43:16 And most of all, your hard earned lessons with us, a reminder to our audience, that you can follow up with us.

43:23 Uh, all of our panelists in Slack, please ask your questions in the track. One Q and a channel. Don't be afraid to mention our panelists.

43:31 They're eager to get back to you. Uh, and also don't forget to tune into our next amazing Perspectives panel. Being a kick ass content designer when English is not your first language, it's hosted by the always effervescent Amandine.

43:46 And you won't want to miss it special. Thanks to James Candi, Peter, for organizing this truly incredible one of a kind event, as well as a final thanks to you, our Perspectives audience, we are all here because of you.

44:01 We hope you, uh, greatly enjoy this event and have a great rest of your day. Thank you so much.

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