You’re Never Too Old to Get a UX Design Jobs
So many people in the 30s, 40s, and 50s are worried about how to become a UX designer because they think they're "too old" for UX design jobs. That's quite far from the truth, but it seems that way because most of the crop of UX designers in the world's biggest companies seem to be in their 20s or even barely there! There are challenges, of course, but you're never too old to become a UX designer. Let's walk through some relevant discussions on how to become a UX designer with no experience even if you're in your 50s right now. The playing field for UX is wide open, and the opportunity is there if you want it.
Older Employees in UX Design Jobs - The Crux of the Matter
The problem with an "ageist" society is that most people are concerned about their job prospects in a new field once they cross their 20s. Most people simply assume that UX design is a "young person's job", which is completely false. The real problem is public perception.
A study in 2018 revealed that 2 out of every 3 employees in the United States experienced "ageism" after crossing 45. Another survey conducted in the UK in 2019 showed that "ageism" starts as early as when you're 29. The problem is even worse in tech companies, where 41% of employees have witnessed age discrimination compared to 27% in other fields.
Winds of Change Are Blowing Across the UX Design Landscape
But that scenario is changing. With the strong demand in UX design over the past few years, there aren't enough new graduates to join the workforce. Moreover, it's harder to recruit younger designers because they value things like flexibility, diversity, and room to grow over money. Also, younger recruits take up more time and money in the form of basic training and orientation into the workforce.
According to UX Collective, as a result, many companies are swapping their hiring practices and beginning to hire more experienced and older UX designers. Besides, the concept of UX designer jobs in remote work environments is quickly getting popular because of the digital transformation spurred by the pandemic.
That's great news if you want to get into the game now or even switch companies. Here are some thoughts about how you can use your age to your advantage and land high-paying UX designer jobs.
Hurdles to Being an "Older" UX Designer
- One of the challenges for older designers is that they may not be up to date with the latest developments in UX design. This includes UX design software and other tools as well as trending practices.
Solution - To counter that situation, stay up to speed by reading UX design literature such as blogs and trade publications. You can also join forums like Dribbble or the Interaction Design Foundation to stay abreast of the latest technologies, tools, and trends.
- Another major challenge is that you may not be comfortable being the oldest member of the design team. Your boss might be quite a bit younger than you, in fact. There are several things you can do to mitigate this sort of situation as well.
Solution - One way is to be more open when interacting with colleagues and peers. Ask questions that give them the impression that they're more knowledgeable. Don't assume that just because you're older, you have more knowledge than them. If they've been in the field of UX design longer than you, there's a lot you can learn from them.
Solution - Another thing you can do is to join in their out-of-office activities as well. Take part in company retreats and try to get into the culture of the organization. It's more challenging to do when you're older, but it's an effort you're going to have to make.
- The third challenge is your salary level. Once you're older, you may have family and other commitments that younger employees might not have. That means you have to consider the pay scale in comparison to your UX designer job duties and your experience level.
Solution - You may need to take up another part-time job to support the family, but the effort will be worth it because, in a few short years, you'll gather enough experience to ask for higher pay or switch to a higher-paying company.
- The fourth hurdle you're likely to face as an older UX designer is the level of stress that the job entails. If you're already a victim of stress, this might not be the right line of work for you. Regardless of whether you're a junior UX designer, a senior UX architect, or a project manager for a design team, the pressure is relentless, with deadline upon deadline piling up every day.
Solution - One way to deal with stress is to take up a relaxing activity or hobby outside of work. Many employees in high-stress positions take up yoga or meditation. Some go fishing or hiking. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it helps reduce the stress that you bring home from work.
- The final challenge is an internal one, where you have to fight your own mental barriers regarding your age. They say that age is entirely in the mind, and that's truer than you realize. If you feel old, you'll feel old!
Solution - To counter those feelings, the best way is to set goals for yourself in terms of finances, health, career, family, etc. Goals keep us 'young-minded' because they occupy all our spare thinking time. We no longer have the time to worry about how old we are or the fact that we're getting older every day.
How You Can Overcome Age-related Obstacles
We've talked about some solutions to major hurdles and challenges you might face as an "older" UX designer, but there are several other things you can do to make sure you're in sync with the demands of the job and the career you're trying to build as a UX design professional. Here are some ideas:
- Immerse yourself in UX design reading - Reading and gaining knowledge allow you to stay on top of your game, which is crucial when you're new to the game. Maintain a constant learning attitude at all times so you don't lose any opportunity to add to your knowledge base. Subscribe to important trade publications like UX Magazine or Beautiful Pixels, and read every article on UX design or any related topic.
- Follow UX design blogs, podcasts, etc. to stay up to date - Get online and get informed! There are tons of blogs written by seasoned UX pros who just want to share the knowledge and wisdom they've acquired over the years. There are podcasts you can listen to on your way to work or whenever you're free. Why waste all of that when it can help you stay at the bleeding edge of your industry?
- Attend meetups or online networking events - The community angle is a very important one because it allows you to invest your time and effort in a pool of talent that you won't find anywhere else. Commit to attend the meetups organized in your area or sign up for live webinars where you can ask questions and learn from others. Join popular UX forums and communities to see where these events are happening and put them on your calendar.
- Keep your resume and portfolio current - It's vitally important that you float your resume on job portals, but it's equally important to keep them current so they'll be relevant to potential recruiters. If you aim to get a high-paying job by being spotted by the best companies, apply regularly to jobs that match your dream job description. Keep trying and you're bound to succeed someday.
- Find ways to leverage your age and experience - You may be a junior UX designer in their late 30s but you have far more life experience than the kid next to you who just got out of college. Use that to your advantage by sharing those experiences in exchange for learning things from younger members of your team. Take additional responsibilities when the project manager is looking for volunteers. Be a team player and use your leadership and people management skills to guide the team to its goals.
- Be flexible and keep an open mind - This is very important. You have to first convince yourself that you're not too old for this job. That's the greatest mental barrier to overcome. Remain flexible with your goals; more accurately, with the way you seek to achieve them. When one door closes, another will open for you. An open mind will allow you to look at several possibilities for a given situation. Even if things look bad right now, believe that a better time is just around the corner, and don't ignore the small opportunities that come your way.
The Advantages of Being an Older UX Designer
So far, we've been talking about the challenges of being an older UX designer and the best ways to mitigate their effects. Turning to a more positive angle, let's talk about all the good things you bring to the table as an experienced person.
- More work experience in a variety of fields - If you've worked in multiple industries in the past, you have a broader understanding of users and what they want. That's the core of any UX designer's job. Moreover, having worked elsewhere gives you more exposure to other work environments and company cultures. Any company that hires you now gets the added benefit of all that knowledge and experience, so that's definitely something they will appreciate.
- Employers may be looking to increase inclusivity - HR best practices, as well as regulatory compliance, dictates that diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the hiring process. For that reason alone, you may have an edge over other candidates younger than you. Don't overlook this as a possibility, and don't shy away from taking advantage of it.
- Greater experience with soft skills - Your time working other jobs and in other companies will have also given you some highly transferable skills such as people management, conflict resolution, business etiquette, and so on. The UX design job description goes far beyond job skills; it encompasses many other skills that make people better employees. These skills are highly desirable in any organization once the basic skillset is covered - and you have plenty of that. As a more mature person, you know how to work well with peers, direct reports, and senior members of the organization. You know the value of following protocol and adherence to standards, yet you have the ability to think outside the box because of your extensive experience. These soft skills are invaluable when it comes to making the decision to promote you faster.
The concept of age and aging is very different around the world. In most oriental and Eastern societies, age is revered, and the elderly are looked up to because of their greater wisdom and knowledge. Unfortunately, the West sees the elderly as a burden on society. That's where the idea of ageism started. Retired people are supposed to sit around and do nothing. They're not encouraged to contribute to society because "they're well past their expiration date."
That unfortunate belief is all around us, especially in the world of business. And that's why we ourselves are hesitant to go after high-paying UX design jobs after a certain age. If we are to break that destructive cycle of thinking, we must collectively make an effort to encourage more experienced workers to enter relatively new technology spaces. Hopefully, the advice and information provided in this article will help you overcome your fears now and seize the day today your tomorrow and future are brighter.