Portfolio Case Studies and LinkedIn Profiles,and Partnering with Recruiters

Moderated by Helen Lee Lin with guest speaker Ploy Hemrathiran
A presentation of the UX Researchers’ Guild
This is an abridgment; view the full video presentation here.
Session 5 – April 15, 2023

In Session #5 of the “Farewell Academia, Hello UXr”  series Helen Lee Lin welcomed guest speaker TEKsystems onboarding coach and specialized digital creative recruiter Ploy Hemrathiran. In this session, Ploy talked about ​what to include in a LinkedIn profile, how to work with recruiters, and discussed ​recruiters’ goals when reviewing a potential candidate’s portfolio.

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Keep in mind that Linkedin is a social media platform to connect with other business people and be sure and include information to make those connections more meaningful and effective.

A common mistake when working with a recruiter is not having a LinkedIn profile. A couple of years ago, that might have been okay. But not having a Linkedin now makes a recruiter’s job more difficult. Hiring managers or recruiting coordinators use LinkedIn to screen potential candidates. They will take a look at your LinkedIn to make sure that it matches your resume. For example, if your resume says you are a UX researcher, but your Linkedin says you are a Research Associate, could indicate a red flag. Ensure that your resume and your Linkedin match.

Be sure you’re representing yourself at the best. Presentation does matter. This includes having a professional image as your profile picture. It doesn’t have to be done in a studio, but it should be clear, not blurry.

Another thing that is often overlooked on Linkedin is recommendations. As I look at someone’s Linkedin and see they are at Amazon where I know they are looking for a UX researcher, I might contact them to see if you know this person. Having recommendations and professional references is important and can help solidify those connections you’re trying to make. 

While it is obvious to include your current and past work histories, recruiters also want to know about you; who you are, and what you‘ve done. If, for example, you graduated from a school that specializes in AI or AR, that might make a difference. But recruiters will take maybe 20-60 seconds to look at resumes and profiles. Be sure and highlight what matters most without making it too long. But it has to grab my attention. 

Unfortunately, many people leave the “About Me” section blank. We want to know what you’ve done, but we also want to know what makes you unique. Even hobbies or side gigs can highlight additional skill sets that a recruiter is looking for. I typically recommend two bullet points in this section. 

As a recruiter, I use Control F to find what I am looking for. If my client wants someone with B2B experience with Cloud software, I’ll Control F “Cloud.” Or if I want to know if someone has used internal tools, I’ll Control. F “Internal”. If I don’t find these keywords, I’ll probably assume that this person is not a great fit. 

If the client wants someone who has worked with Salesforce before, that’s very easy and quick to find. Sometimes our clients are very specific about what types of background they’re looking at. So when you leave a blank, it’s almost like a guessing game.

Be sure and note whether your work is a contract or full-time. This helps recruiters understand your availability. If interested, they can reach out for more information as to when your contracts end and set up a follow-up call.

Lastly, post content! And like other people’s posts. This will help boost your posts and utilize your network more effectively. 

Partnering with Recruiters

Partnering with a recruiter implies a relationship. And with any relationship, it takes effort on both parts to make it work. You can help your recruiter, and thus yourself, with a few easy steps.

I interact with upwards of 100 people each week, whether by phone or email. And because I’m in staffing, everything moves quickly, and as much as I would love to remember everyone’s name, it can be challenging. So be intentional in your interactions.  

First, let your recruiter get to know you. Make yourself memorable in some way. My name is Ploy, which I describe as rhyming with “employ” or “deploy.” This way, someone will more than likely remember me. Make a connection in some way that stands out so that a recruiter will remember you. 

Because a relationship is a two-way street, take time to get to know your recruiter. Do they work for a staffing agency or are they from internal recruiters? Is it a contract? Is it full-time? Do they have a special specialization, or focus on different skill sets?

As you share your own skill sets, be careful to avoid saying you are open to anything and everything. That might seem like a good mindset to have. But if you want to go into Ux research, I would be very intentional about your journey and what want to do. As a recruiter, this will help me identify what jobs would be best for you. 

Because I interact with so many people, it may take longer to respond than I would like. That’s why taking the time for a recruiter to get to know you is so important. It makes it so much easier to place people in the perfect positions. 

Even though you may not hear from a recruiter as often as you would like, please know that they do care and want what is best for you. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that recruiters only care about themselves. That has not been my experience. Because of this, don’t be afraid to reach out to them for any updates via text or a LinkedIn message if you don’t hear back in a timely manner. 

To make this communication easier, I highly recommend asking about your recruiter’s preferred method of communication. Some people will say you can give them a call, while others will say they will reach out to you. Be sure to ask those questions.

And if a particular recruiter doesn’t find anything for you, check their network to see if they know someone with whom you might be able to connect. Finding a great job is all about networking, and a recruiter can be a big part of that process.

Tips for UX Research Case Studies/Portfolios

  • Format:
    While a pdf is acceptable, it’s becoming more of an expectation to have a portfolio or a website. From my perspective, I look to see how easy it is to read. Can I get the gist of what this person is doing within two minutes? I look for a clean research portfolio that is easy to navigate. Whatever format you choose, make sure that your fonts are consistent throughout your presentation. Your name and section headings might be in a different font, but the rest should be in an easy-to-read format. Also ensure that the placement of information (for example, section headings, deliverables, etc) is consistent from page to page.
  • What is your role?
    Sometimes people forget to include what their role is. I need to be able to see it right off the bat.
  • Research question:
    Include your research question early on before you get into the process. What is the problem that you are trying to solve? Make this a separate section near the beginning of your portfolio to make it stand out and easy to find.
  • Timeline and Collaboration Partners:
    As a recruiter, I look at your timeline, and the reason for it, and if you worked with anybody else. Who were your collaboration partners? This might include working cross-collaboration with product managers, developers, engineers, and designers. If you’re transitioning from Academia, you might not have those opportunities. But I also want to know if you partnered with others.
  • Background:
    This might include improving order, size, and communications for particular products. Simplify your explanations using no more than four or five sentences. To help readers know more than a quick summary of findings, direct them to deeper information. This is where a website is helpful. You can embed hyperlinks to include additional analysis. You won’t lose content and readers will clearly understand what you have done.
  • Explain Your Processes:
    As I read through your resume, one of the things I will look for is your processes. If I don’t see it there, that’s where your portfolio comes in. You can also use bullet points to show the steps you took to address your research question. Again, this breaks up all the text and makes it easy to read.
  • Incorporate images:
    While images in a Ux portfolio may not be as important as they are in a design presentation, adding pictures will do two things: break up the text and make your portfolio more interesting to look at. A helpful, and perhaps more relative, visual might be a screenshot from a spreadsheet to explain data or processes. An image could also be used to explain the background, a summary of findings, methods, tools, process, data, analysis, and survey questions. Having some images will help recruiters understand better what you’re trying to communicate.
  • Added Information:
    Depending on the processes you use, describing the environment of your testing, for example, if it was done remotely, could help to explain outcomes. A remote test does not allow participants to ask clarifying questions which could affect the data. Giving explanations like this will help recruiters understand your findings better. This will also help you advocate for your own research if the data is clean and easy for your stakeholder to digest.
  • Conclusions, Reflections, and Lessons Learned:
    Use the STAR approach when designing your portfolio by explaining the Situation, Task, Action, and Result. But also add your reflections. What did you find that could have been more helpful? What could have been that next step? I love seeing conclusions and impact. This is the solution to the research question that I look for in the beginning. Here again, I will use Control F and look for your recommendations to solve the problem. This might be in a separate paragraph but should be easy to find.In addition, share what you learned from the study. Stay focused on your research question and try to not make your case study overly long. It can also be helpful to include any challenges you faced. I know that research is not smooth sailing all the time. Understanding how you met and addressed those challenges helps me understand you even better.

While every portfolio will look different, above all, do all you can to take the guesswork out of the process for whoever may be looking at your presentation. The easier you make it for them, the more likely a recruiter or hiring manager will want to work with you.


About Helen: Helen Lee Lin received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology and has worked in applied research in adolescent literacy and children’s nutrition, and with combat veterans with traumatic brain injuries. She took a career pause while living in Ankara, Turkey for 6 years and then transitioned to UXR in 2018. She volunteered for Hack for LA for six months and broke into industry in January 2021 with a contract at TikTok. She is currently a contract UXR at Meta, working on Facebook Groups.

Group Pages

Book Groups
Accessibility for Everyone

Do You Want to Be a UXR Consultant?

Research Rumble
Session 1 – Research Democratization
Session 2 – Are Personas an Effective Tool?
Session 3 – How Important are Quant Skills to UX Research?
Session 4 – AI in UX Research
Session 5 – ​Do UX Researchers Need In-depth Domain Knowledge?

How to Freelance
Are You Ready to Freelance?
Do You Need a Freelance Plan?
How Do You Find Freelance Clients?
Which Business Entity is Best for Freelancers?
How to Manage a Freelance Business
How to Start and Manage Your Freelance Business
What is a Freelance UXR/UX Strategist?
Can Your Employer Stop You From Freelancing?

Leveling Up with UX Strategy
Session 1 – What is UX Strategy?
Session 2 – UX Strategy for Researchers
Session 3 – Working with Your UX Champions

Quantitative UX Research Methods
Session 1 – When to Use Which Quantitative Methods
Session 2 – How to Use Statistical Tests in UX Research
Session 3 – Using Advanced Statistics in UX Research

Transitioning to Freelance UX Research
Session 1 – Transitioning to Freelance

Farewell Academia; Hello UXr
Session 1 – How to Create a UXr Portfolio
Session 2 – Creating UX Research Plans, Moderation Guides, and Screeners
Session 3 – Recruiting and Fielding UX Research Study Participants
Session 4 – Creating UX Analysis Guides and Portfolios
Session 5 – Portfolio Case Studies and LinkedIn Profiles, and Partnering with Recruiters
Session 6 – Framing Impact in UXr Portfolios and Resumes

UX Research in the Automotive Industry