Jonathan Bowman

Bridging the Practitioner Gap

Jonathan Bowman
5 minute read

In today’s job market, you’ll find it difficult to become a freshly minted UX Designer if you don’t have experience. The same goes for a freshly minted UX Researcher. The conundrum is further compounded by the fact that despite having the education or skills, no one is willing to give you a chance. This is why a practitioners license is super important.

3 Types of Job Applicants

If you are a designer or researcher, there are three categories you fall into.

  1. With experience
  2. Fresh out of school
  3. Career switcher

With Experience

It’s safe to assume that someone who has experience will require less vetting and must be competent. These folks do not have a lot to prove. They may be asked some questions about their skills in an interview, but they most likely would not be tested on them during the interview process. To do so, would be slightly offensive.

But the reality is I can’t truly be certain as to what, or how much this person knows. The gap to bridge here is: objective knowledge and skills.

Fresh out of School

For those of you just graduating, you fall in the Fresh out of school, category.

The disadvantage here, is you could know a lot. A lot more than your peers and maybe even more than the hiring manager; but be miscategorized and forced to take a role and pay that don’t match up to your objective skills.

The Career Switcher

What happens to people who are transitioning from another field? Or folks who are self-taught? Those people will also see an increasing level of difficulty in gaining entrance into the ranks of the design and research fields because the more traditional paths are becoming the trusted norm. After all, how much vetting do you have to do with a non-traditional person vs. a traditional person? There's an impression that it's easier to vet someone who has a traditional academic background or has previous experience in the role. The non-traditional people are really the underdogs here, because they stand to lose the most and have a higher sense of urgency in landing a job. These folks are usually hanging on a prayer to land a job, unemployed, and compounding themselves into abysmal debt, just to survive.

The disadvantage here, is you become 3rd in line to even be considered a candidate. You will most definitely be miscategorized and forced to take a role and pay that don’t match up to your objective skills.

Where do Licenses Come In?

Licenses flip hiring on its head and allow hiring managers, and companies, to focus less on bias, discrimination, cronyism, or nepotism and create a fixed framework, or criteria, of hiring that relies on measurable and objective data.

I’m extremely passionate about this notion because making the job market more equitable is a far more compelling vision for the design and research industries and breeds competent practitioners. Today’s vision is a bit lost, in my opinion.

How Do Licenses Help Companies?

Companies have a major gap to fill too. Companies take about 5-6 weeks to hire a new researcher or designer. Sometimes it could take longer. Companies spend about $26,000.00+ on hiring a new researcher or designer. You could hire someone who nailed the interview, but doesn’t really know how to do their job. You’re losing access to a lot of great candidates because you ask for take-home assignments, or whiteboard tests thus forced to speak with less desirable candidates.

A license removes the need to vet with a whiteboard test, because we’ve already tested the candidate.

A license speeds up your process because you remove many steps like take-home tests. The process is also sped up because you can search a license database for licensed practitioners.

A license reduces costs because you are relying on the licensing body’s reputation and you are trusting they’ve done the due diligence. A license also reduces costs because you don’t need to perform a background check. We do that for you.

How Do Licenses Help Consumers?

It would be sad, if I failed to mention the most important part of this equation, the consumer. Consumers are holding practitioners accountable for delivering high quality experiences. A license protects the consumer and ensures them that we are vetting, testing, and observing the practitioners skills and competencies and holding them accountable to a set of safety standards as responsible practitioners.