A career gimmick

I’m trying to dip my toes, get a foot in, dunk my head and generally jump bodily into the sea of UX careers, and beyond the obvious stuff – practice the craft, do good work, go to meetups – I’m trying out a gimmick to get some conversations going: A limited run printed portfolio!

I love gimmicks, and ever since I heard Hiroshi Sugimoto (who does serious high-art photography) describe some of his techniques as “gimmicks” I’m no longer afraid to use the word myself, even though it’s often thought of as derogatory.

Because I’m without income right now I’ve had to think twice before splurging on this, but I figure it’s worth a gamble, and for anyone who is interested I’ve done a short writeup.

The gimmick

I’ve printed a small run of an eight page tabloid portfolio which contains one UX case, one rebrand, and a few examples of my art practice. You can download the PDF here: Mateusz_Tabloid_portfolio.pdf

The aim is to get people to book a meeting with me through a Calendly link.

The portfolio took me 40 hours to put together over three months sporadic work, using Affinity Publisher for the design. None of the content is AI generated, except the pastiche of the riflemans creed at the last page, for which I used Perplexity.ai.

When the portfolio was more or less done I solicited feedback from Petter Baggeryd, Nina Mujdzic, Thijs Keesenberg, Jenny Riksén, Åsa Gillberg and Cindy Sjöblom – great many thanks to them for their time and input. Of course, my first critic and supporter is as ever my darling Sara Henriksson ❤︎.

Since the portfolio is intended to grab attention rather than be exhaustive, I’ve had to put the hours in to create a proper portfolio that people can visit. So an added benefit was that I finally got three sites done: pozar.se for the UX work, hintlab.org for the more speculative work I’m hoping to do, and monocultured.com to document all the art and media projects I’ve done over the years. All three are works-in-progress and look kinda generic right now, but at least they’re up. I used blocs to put it together, and self-host the sites.

Cost cost

  • Newspaperclub printing of 70 copies digital tabloid: 2200kr
  • Import duties & tax: 200kr
  • Transparent C4 polyethylene envelopes: 200kr
  • Stickers for my thermoprinter: 150kr (although I have plenty left)
  • Postage for out-of-town companies: 400kr
  • City courier: 1800kr
  • Total≈ 5000kr

Target audience

I put together a list of 45 companies that I’m interested in, and 50 people at those companies whose attention I’m hoping to grab. The goal isn’t necessarity to land a job with one of these companies – although that would be sweeeeeet – but to start conversations about where I fit in. Even though I’m junior in the UX field I have 25 years of related experience, so I know that I have a lot offer in the design space – but I also need to find a good cultural fit, so I’ve targeted companies and people senior enough that they know what they want and can tell me if I would be a good match. You want to know if you can make people smile and appreciate your company, y’know?

In order to reach the right person I’ve scoured Linkedin and homepages to decide on whom I ought to contact – I’ve built the list over the last six months or so, putting ≈30 hours into it. Most companies have offices in Gothenburg, but a few allow remote work or had design leads living elsewhere – for those I’m sending the portfolio by post.

In-person delivery

In order to make sure to reach the intended recipients, I’ve hired Tura to act curier and make sure to give it directly to the right person. It’s like being served a court summons, only friendlier! The goal is to get most of them delivered in the beginning of May.

Some companies have obscured their locations so I’ve had to guess at the correct address. Perhaps it’s an indication that offices are less important these days of hybrid and full remote, or maybe they just don’t want people to show up unannounced.

In a time of full remote and flexible hours it’s proven difficult to reach the individuals using courier. It was worth trying, but my ambition to have all of these delivered to the correct person in two days was unrealistic – I would have needed to find out the working hours of everyone and adjust the delivery based on that. That would have been too much effort for too uncertain payoff though, so I probably just would have sent all by post today.

The outcome [updated 15th May]

I’ll keep tabs of who has reached out to me, who has booked a meeting, and if anything else came of a particular delivery. In a business where the competition is fierce and networking is how stuff gets done, I’m curious to see how this experiment will turn out.

Companies I reached out to: 45
People I wanted to reach: 50
Successful in-person deliveries by Tura: 7 out of 29
Sent by post: 21
Coffee-dates: 1
Promised coffee-dates: 4

Other feedback, communication, etc:
• Great idea and nice portfolio, we’re just not hiring at the moment.
• Love the idea
• The portfolio ought to show more of your process and what you want to do.

Final thoughts

The last two years I’ve been cultivating my Linkedin network and it’s going pretty well, but even though Linkedin clout might make you feel connected to other professionals, the platform’s exuberant cheerfulness doesn’t easily translate into anything useful. And for an introvert like myself who really sucks at networking, finding a way to reach others is important – let’s see if this portfolio is a good way.

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