Applying for a new job can be a hugely daunting experience -- whether you're an experienced professional or, in particular, just starting out.
If you're looking for a new position in games -- or your first job in this brilliant industry -- there are a few steps you can take to give you the best possible chance of getting that role.
Although this can be a daunting experience, it's worth remembering that recruiters and hirers across the games industry, in studios large and small, need and want to fill their vacancies.
Studios need and want to fill their vacancies. They want your job application to be the one that gives them the 'wow' factor
They want your job application to be the one that gives them the 'wow' factor. So, make sure you do the groundwork before applying, to help them to help you get the job.
Create a great CV
It's a cliché, but most clichés are true -- first impressions really count, so great presentation is a good place to start. Making your CV well-spaced and easy to read helps busy hirers see what you're made of, quickly. Keeping to two or three pages means they are likely to read it all -- if you have many years of experience, it may be useful to summarise prior to a certain date.
Hirers expect a CV to reflect the person and their standards, including their attention to detail so check and double check, typos happen to the best of us. And keep those Error 404 messages at bay by regularly checking that your links work.
Don't forget to include your contact details -- you'd be surprised how many people leave them off!
After your name and contact details, include a short personal profile to let the hirer know who you are, what you can offer and what you're looking to achieve next in your career.
Tailor your CV to make it specific to the job vacancy. Look at the job description and reflect the requirements in your covering letter and CV.
If you're a student or just coming out of education in the UK please show off your A-Level results, especially if they're relevant to the role you're applying for. For roles in programming for example, studios will love your Maths or Science results. If you have been to university or college make sure you detail all the learning, which areas you've particularly enjoyed, plus the project or projects you've worked on, highlighting the role that you've played.
If you have employment history, list your experience in reverse chronological order so that your most recent it at the top. When listing each role you've held, say what your job title was, the employer, the dates and a summary of the role. Then give more detail about your responsibilities, the skills you used and your achievements. If you worked in a team then make sure you differentiate between what the team achieved and what you were responsible for. Showcase what you did!
If you worked in a team then make sure you differentiate between what the team achieved and what you were responsible for
List any extra-curricular activities and accomplishments that are relevant to the role and any hobbies or interests that tell a prospective employer more about you and your passions. Maybe you're a volunteer, have published work that you want to share, awards you've won, training you've completed? All potentially relevant to include as part of tailoring the CV to the role you're applying for. Also don't forget any languages you speak that could be useful for a role in a new location!
Meanwhile, based on feedback from our clients in games publishing and development, here are some specific don'ts:
- Don't write too much. Avoid putting in too much detail about all of your part-time jobs -- if they're not relevant to your future career, just summarise
- Don't use too many fonts
- Don't send a generic CV. Do your research and show the studio that you really want their job, not just any job
Showcase your work
Don't just tell your prospective employer what you can do -- show them, by ensuring your portfolio is up to date, and up to scratch.
Include tech demos, your best work and your thought processes so that recruiters can get a solid understanding of your ability and creativity.
If you think you need help with honing your portfolio, speak to a recruitment agency -- they often provide help and guidance to prospective candidates free of charge.
Don't just tell your prospective employer what you can do -- show them, by ensuring your portfolio is up to date, and up to scratch
Consider your options
It's worth thinking about whether you want to work for a large company or a smaller studio. There are pros and cons to both.
At a large studio, there are usually more opportunities for career development within the company, perks and benefits may be better and you can align yourself with a triple-A games IP, which is great for your CV. The flipside is that you may get 'lost' and overlooked, as well as being locked into a particular role.
Meanwhile, a smaller studio may mean you get to have more input on projects, learning new skills and have the opportunity to make a name for yourself. In general, there can be more flexibility in your career development at a smaller company.
Do your research
Once you've decided the vacancies you want to apply for, make sure you do your research on the studio and the projects they're working on. And show the recruiters and hirers that you've done just that by making references to their games, company culture and more in your covering letter.
Check -- and double check -- your social media channels
It goes without saying that you need to check for any posts you've made in the past that could be considered as controversial. Employers will check out your social media presence, so make sure there's nothing that will put them off.
Employers will check out your social media presence, so make sure there's nothing that will put them off
Meanwhile, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, professional and matches the CV you're presenting. List all your skills and experience, and ask former colleagues, employers, or course leaders to provide you with endorsements and recommendations.
Network, network, network
This is a hugely sociable industry, so get out there and make new connections. Of course, that's not been easy over the past 18 months, thanks to the pandemic. But the games industry has adapted well and there have still been opportunities to network and learn -- and more still to come going forward.
Look out for national events such as GamesIndustry.biz's own Careers Fair at EGX, but there are most likely also smaller, regional events in your country that take place throughout the year, so keep an eye out for them.
No experience? No problem
Most studios won't automatically dismiss applicants if they're lacking certain experience, so don't be put off applying for a post if you don't tick all the requirements on the job spec.
Don't be put off applying for a post if you don't tick all the requirements on the job spec
This is particularly true for women. There's a well-known statistic that men will apply for jobs if they only meet 60% of the requirements; women will only apply if they meet 100% of them. Let's smash that statistic...
But if you are thinking of gaining more experience before applying for your first job, you could consider an apprenticeship or internship. There are some brilliant organisations who are providing these routes in careers, such as the Next Gen Skills Academy and Into Games in the UK. They can give you advice on a range of options to suit you.
Talk to a specialist
Recruitment companies are here to help candidates find the right job. That's what they do. They can help you to hone your CV and your portfolio, offer advice on interview techniques, as well as highlighting vacancies that suit your skills.
The games industry is a notoriously competitive sector, but it's also an industry that has a huge (and increasing) demand for talented individuals. Good luck on your journey!
Will Hudson is principal recruitment consultant at recruitment specialist Amiqus. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
More GamesIndustry.biz Academy guides to Working in Games
Our guides to working in games cover various perspectives, from hiring to retention, to landing the job of your dream or creating the right company culture: