Rachee Jacobs, Product Designer at Houzz, https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachee-jacobs/
Please provide us with a brief description of your work:
I am a product designer at Houzz, the leading home remodeling platform in the world. It is a place you can find inspiration for home design. The main market is the United States, but it is available other places as well. The main R&D center is in Palo Alto, but I work in the Tel Aviv branch, which employs about 100 people. Most of our work is on the mobile app and on software for the home professionals to do business management. It’s a B2B (business to business), SAAS (software as a service) for home professionals. I work on the desktop and mobile apps.
How did you find your job?
I found my first job in the field through a mentor in my bootcamp. A recruiter from Houzz reached out to me but I didn’t have enough of a background at the time. After working and building up my relevant experience, she reached out and I was hired.
What experience/training do you need to get into your field?
I went to UX academy, Design Lab and trained online. It’s an American school, but they have some Israeli mentors. I actually got a job through my Israeli mentor. I had an undergrad degree in web design but wanted to enhance my UX skills and so I went to a bootcamp. Since then I’ve had many jobs in the field UX and product design.
What degree should someone making Aliyah come with, in order to break into your field?
Most places like if you have a degree in Art. I didn’t have that background, but I went to a bootcamp and was able to build up to it. It is important that you’re good at visual design. Unrelated to a degree, you need to keep doing and creating things, as well as have an eye for detail. Experience goes a long way here. Just doing a 6-month bootcamp isn’t always enough, it’s important get experience on the side – by designing apps for free for friends, for example. They can look past not having the degree if your work speaks for you and if you have the experience.
Does it make any difference whether you studied in Israel or abroad?
What are the benefits and challenges of working in UX?
It’s a field I feel is growing and getting more popular, & job availability is great. It’s a super interesting role. You get to speak to so many stakeholders and be a team player. It’s a role that’s both creative and strategic. It’s a very dynamic role with new challenges all the time, and it’s so cool to be able to create and see how people respond. It can be hard that a lot of it is problem solving, for good and for bad. Because it’s a newer role sometimes people don’t always understand the value of a UX designer and they just ask you to create, without you having a say in what is created and the definition of the product. It’s important for UX designers to be a part of the conversation. This is dependent on the type of company and how they value the role of design in their product.
What is the salary range?
Jerusalem generally has a lower range than Tel Aviv.
The Tel Aviv salary range for someone with 0-1 years of experience can be anywhere between 8 or 9–12,000 NIS a month. 2-5 years of experience can be 13-18,000 NIS/month. 5+ years of experience can be 20-30,000 NIS a month. Jerusalem can run 2-3,000 NIS less. UX can make a bit more UI because they do both the visual and the research part.
Do you need Hebrew to work in your field in Israel?
Since it’s a visual field, you can easily get by without great Hebrew. Meetings will be in Hebrew, but you don’t need a high level to work. The market is often international, so the users are generally abroad. Sometimes you even get to travel to do a research trip!
Any advice for students interested in going into your field?
You need to work hard, do pro-bono work, and keep creating. This gives you the chance to learn from your experiences and it makes you better. You can find prompt generator websites that give you an idea to design. You can do a daily UI challenge where every day they email you something you should design. Keep creating, keep going to meetups and networking. There are a lot of opportunities, but it can be challenging to get in without experience. You may not land at an ideal company at first, but the experience is valuable. Things are changing in this field every day so keep up your learning, even when you have a full time job.
What are some important resources or insights people should know when entering the job market here?
You MUST have an online portfolio and have your own website. A PDF is not enough. You need to show case studies on each of your projects and how you got to your results. It’s important to have at least three on the website. There are social media platforms like Dribble, where you can post different project you have done, and potential employers look there. It can help to have articles written on Medium. There is a website called WOO.IL where you make a profile and they suggest jobs to you. It has happened a couple of times that I interviewed somewhere, and it didn’t work out. However, eventually they did reach back out, so it’s good to cast a wide net and be on these different platforms. There are Facebook groups that are specific for UX and a lot of networking and meetups in the community. That’s a great way to go and start meeting people in order to brand yourself.
Another piece of advice I would give is to consider whether you want to work at a product company or a design company (where they are outsourced to other companies). At a product company, you get to know one company or product well, and at a design company you have different projects all the time. Design studios will sometimes take more junior people because they need more designers. Also, smaller companies generally have a smaller budget and hire for a one-man show with only one design person. Bigger companies may break up the roles more clearly between UI designer, UX researcher, UX writers, etc.
Because this field is relativity new, and not all companies know exactly what it means, job titles can be all over the place, and you can often tell through the job description if they really want a UX designer or whether they just want a little bit of graphic design or marketing design. Some companies who don’t know exactly what UX is, won’t always include a lot of research work. If that is important to you, it can be good to feel this out when interviewing. You can push to educate the companies and they are often open to this. Companies are learning but often it’s the UX designer’s role to educate.