Earlier this week as part of GamesIndustry International's ongoing Feature Focus: Careers coverage, we compiled some career advice from industry veterans and luminaries. Today we're narrowing the scope a little and moving from the inspirational to the practical, as Sega Europe HR & recruitment manager Ben Harrison tells us what he wants to see from candidates who come into his crosshairs.
1. Gain practical experience.
This is the single, most important piece of advice I would give to graduates. Gain practical experience at the earliest opportunity - whether it is a personal project, an unpaid internship or work experience, this will make you stand out from the crowd. Employers are, of course, looking for strong academics and theoretical knowledge, but it is the practical application of this that is key to getting the job you are looking for.
When it comes to the next generation of game makers, whilst competition has never been more fierce, it is equally true that there have never been more opportunities for budding developers; there is a whole host of different free software and tools that mean anyone can make their own website or mini game. Employers don't necessarily expect your work to be a commercial success but using the skills you have gained at Uni or from practicing at home and showcasing them in your own work shows proactivity, passion and skill, which is exactly what every games company is looking for.
2. Market yourself.
Remember that your CV is the key thing that a recruiter will look at and some recruiters will look at a CV for as little as 10 seconds.
It should go without saying but all too often applications can fall down on the simplest of things; make sure that your CV looks good, and has no spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. Also, ensure that you have all of the up to date contact details on there too. In the past, some of the worst examples include candidates forgetting to put their name on their CV, wrong contact email addresses or even no way of contacting them whatsoever.
More specifically, assuming that the CV looks good and is error-free, tailor your CV for different jobs and highlight your relevant experience. If you have undertaken a particular project or done something that is particularly relevant to the position then make sure that is prominent in your application. Always put relevant, key achievements/experience at the top of your CV so that the recruiter can easily view your key skills for the role.
3. Always write a cover letter.
All too often, a CV comes in with no explanation of the candidate's motivation for applying. Make sure you tell us why you want to work for us and why you would be suitable for this role. Remember that recruiters will see a lot of applications so make sure yours stands out from the crowd and that we want to hire people that are passionate about our product and working for us.
4. Do your research.
Understand what the company is all about and have a good idea of what the job entails. Get to know key products and the direction of the company to show you are proactive and keen on the opportunity. Thoroughly read the job description, get to grips with what you would be doing on a day-to-day basis, have an idea of what ideas you would bring and what you would like to achieve in the role. This approach shows proactivity and that you know what to expect from the job and the company.
5. Ask questions and engage in the process.
When it comes to an interview, one word answers to questions are a definite no; try to give detailed answers to questions and make sure that the interviewer knows how much you want the opportunity. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions and get a feel for the company, working environment and ways of working.
Importantly, make sure this is the right opportunity for you. Statistics suggest that the average person spends over 99,000 hours and 14 percent of their life at work so it goes without saying that finding the right "fit" is vital. If you buy into the culture and approach of a company and enjoy the work, then you'll invariably be happier, perform to a higher level and stay longer. Remember that this is a two-way process and don't be afraid to find out exactly what the company has to offer so that you can make a fully informed decision.
Finding the perfect job is not always straight forward, but following simple steps like the above will put you in a strong position; over and above that, having the tenacity and drive to get out there and find the right opportunity will maximise your chances. Sometimes it may be all about timing and a certain amount of patience may be required but if you are doing the right things and have the talent then this will shine through.