An Open Letter to Potential Employers

Don’t hire me if you don’t want me to be truthful about everything. No, seriously. I’m posting to my blog because I actually have time to – if you look back at my blog posts the last one was around the time I went to work for Trapster (I think), and then a company in Glendale. I have time because yet again being truthful was bad for me – though truthful I will always be.

Lying is bad, yet people do that, cheat, make up things, tell white lies, and so on seem to get rewarded for it all the time. Every time I’m honest about the way things are and how they can be fixed, I’m out of a job. Let me explain.

I’m a UX Designer – well, more of an experience designer overall. My job is to design great experiences and point out when one is not. When an employer asks me to do a usability study on a product or site or app they have, I’ll be honest in my assessment, point out the good stuff that works, and of course point out all the bad things and how to fix them.

I expect the employer not have their feelings hurt by my assessment. And turns out most the time they are- they get offended, defensive, and so on, knowing their product is a steaming pile of poo, yet they don’t want to look at it.

It seems whenever I have a great job doing UX with a great company, as soon as they ask me for my take on something, and I’m COMPLETELY, and professionally honest, I find myself out of a job, because the employer doesn’t want to look at the truth.

So, my losing my last job, which suddenly ended yesterday, wasn’t because I did a usability analysis. It was because I didn’t say anything about a huge project they had been working on for YEARS, and telling them – specifically one of the owner’s whose pet project this was for a major technology client, was a big steaming pile of poo.

After losing other jobs due to my honesty about a broken product, I figured this time I won’t say anything, as I wanted to keep my job at a very cool company.

When I came on back in January, I got to see a product, and it looked like it had a few months work into it at best. I didn’t know at that time it had years of work into it. 4 months later, this week actually, it looked a little better, but not impressive. And this company is known for doing very impressive stuff.

The owner wanted a specific thing, I got what he was getting at over the last number of months, but for some reason that didn’t seem to get translated to other people there. So I designed an interface to at least make it usable. I originally designed an interface to make it really great, but we all know how things can go in a different direction. That happened a lot.

I should have been more forthright, telling the owner the issues I saw beyond the issues he saw. Yes, there was a high probability I would have lost my job sooner. Then there was a big demo to the big client. They decided they wanted to change direction. And I found myself out of a job- with the explanation that having UX in house was an experiment , and to this day, I know that for the most part most all companies consider UX to be a luxury item.

If there’s not enough work, or a big enough need, then we, as UX’ers, are a luxury item. Honest UX’ers are even more so.

If you want the truth about your product, site, app, etc. and are willing to listen, have an open mind, not be offended, and let me fix it and create an amazing experience, then great. Hire me. If not, then I’ll pass.


And that’s the truth.

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2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Potential Employers

  1. It seems like if you are disrespectfully honest, and don’t find ways to present the new ideas in a way that helps the client see their pitfalls, then you will be out of a job. Most of the job is finessing the the requirements and balancing the wins. Push back when you have to but when you see a place for the client to feel impactful and it doesn’t interrupt the application. Give a little take a little, the consumer is not our only priority when doing UX, we cannot disrupt a business model.

    1. I agree completely- we need to be respectfully honest as they are asking us to review and analyze their product, to find out why after spending thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars at it, it’s not attracting more customers, customers are leaving for a different product that’s not as “cool” or “cutting edge”, or their client that they’re trying to impress isn’t. We have two customers as UX people – the company we’re working for and the end user.
      The issue at times is the company we go to work for – as typically, they’ve already blown a ton of money on something before they hire us, and then once we come on, they want a usability analysis. Some take that, learn from it, and fix the issue. Once they do based on our recommendations which were presented professionally and with everything they need – clear designs, flows, etc., they typically let you go after as you’ve given them not only what they needed, but a plan for future releases – thus a job well done.
      However there are those who take the advice, analysis, and designs, and don’t want to hear that something is really bad as it is. Instead of going in a different direction, they want to keep adding features to the broken product thinking that will fix it, and at the same time distract their users from all the things that are bad or don’t work.

      If the business model is good, then there should never be a need to fix something that’s broken, as they would have considered UX before spending any money on dev. If a business model is broken, there’s a lot of pride and sometimes people don’t really want to know how broken things are.

      So thanks Mister Employed at I agree with your points completely. And being the smart fellow you are, depending on how many different people you’ve had the experience to work with, and how they handle professional criticism, I hope you can either add to my points above, or agree with them as these are all things I’ve experienced and to be truthful am glad I have.

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