How to get a job in the video game industry?
It’s a dream job. Maybe you’re a programmer, an artist, sound engineer, advertiser, writer, designer, etc. no matter the position, working in video games is a dream come true to a lot of people. It’s no wonder that when a job opens somewhere, a lot of people send job requests.
Some people may say that “you got lucky” when you land a job in the industry. Well, I don’t believe in luck, I believe in chances and odds. And there are somethings you can do (or don’t do) to increase your odds in order to get the job.
I usually get 50 to 100 requests whenever I post an offer, and sadly, I don’t have the time to personally interview every one of the applicants, so I only call those who make a great impression. You want to be one of those.
The video game industry is highly competitive, so you must prove your worth (even if you’re starting out), so here are a few of the most common mistakes preventing people from getting their dream jobs:
1 – Good for everything, excels at nothing
There’s a false misconception that a the longer the CV, the more impressive it will be. In most cases, when you see a 4 page long CV, most of it is filler or information that is really not important to the job you’re seeking. Maybe you’ve don a lot of things, but I’ll put it this way, if Elon Musk can tell his professional story in a single page, you can too. I’d prefer a good ol’ fashioned Unity programmer than someone who is learning 50 different languages, software and engines but can’t focus on a single one.
Bear in mind that your CV must also be read very quickly, and saving the person who’s doing it is not only polite, but pretty effective (it shows you can accurately convey a lot of information in very little space). Where you attended kindergarten or junior high is not really that important. Just your university degree or courses taken (relevant to the job) are more than enough.
2 – Bad Presentation
There are a lot of things that can be considered bad presentation, in written form, the most obvious one is your spelling. A poorly written text shows that there’s no interest and that you don’t consider yourself a professional.
You may not think of it, but the font you use is a pretty big deal. You may have been warned to avoid Times New Roman or Comic Sans (the equivalent of showing up to a job interview in a hawaiian shirt), and there’s a good reason. Pick nice and clear fonts that are pleasant and easy to read. Georgia, Helvetica and Calibri are nice and sure choices. So remember, no matter how much you love Undertale, avoid Comic Sans, Papyrus or Wingdings.
When you get called and finally get an interview, show up punctual and be nice. Now, I deal with a lot of pretty creative and outgoing people, so I get to see a lot of different colored hair, piercings, tattoos and I don’t have a problem with those. But that’s no excuse for showing up dressed innapropriately or having poor hygiene.
What you say it’s also really important. It’s not a big deal if you can’t answer some of the questions, but a lot of people tend to rant and complain about their last jobs. Why don’t you focus on the good things? How much you’ll grow with this new job, what great things you can bring to the team, etc. Quick tip: don’t be one of those who immediately asks about salary, lunch breaks, holidays, etc. That will come in their due time.
When I interview new people, I often like to ask them what’s their mayor flaw. With this question I seek to find out two things about the person: their capacity to own their mistakes and their ability to correct them.
3 – Not filtering your portfolio content
Don’t put everything you’ve ever done. After 4 pages, most people lose interest. Remember, like a good movie: the good stuff goes first. You must always ask yourself if your really putting only the best of the best. If you’re an illustrator, send your best pictures, if you’re a musician, send your best songs, the same goes for animators, writers, etc. If you’re a programmer, it’s always a good idea to provide a build of a prototype you have at hand (or if you already made a game, that’s even better!).
It’s preferable if your work is viewable online, and if it absolutely must be downloaded, don’t exceed a 10 or 15 mb limit. Also promote it and share it in blogs, social media, etc to get it exposure and get you noticed in the dev community.
4 – Not introducing yourself
“Hello” is one of the best ice breakers. Some people just send emails with their CVs or portfolios attached without saying a single thing. Why should I hire you and not other candidates? Don’t be shy and sell yourself. Don’t say “I come to learn”, change it to “I can be useful because of this and that”. Avoid phrases like “I think”, “I suppose”, “I may”, etc. those denote insecurity.
It’s not only your work and experience what’s being evaluated, it’s also YOU as a person. How nice you are, how polite, funny, creative, and all those things. Of course, don’t overstate the confidence, don’t be rude and don’t be smug. There’s a fine line that you must always keep in mind and it will depend a lot on who are you talking to, which brings me to the last point…
5 – Not doing your homework
At least google who you’re contacting. If it’s a company, learn about them, what they like, what they have done, the good, the bad, everything. When you send your CV to a lot of companies with the exact same text, they’re gonna notice. And this shows a lot of disdain and minimum effort. Just copy pastin’ those addresses into your CC it’s not gonna cut it.
Learn about the people you’re contacting, but don’t be an adulator. Too many compliments or flattery often come off as fake. Be natural, if you’re a fan, tell it casually, if not, you don’t have to lie about it. Knowing what they do is more than enough.
This step is only done by 1 out of 10 people, so doing your homework gives you a huge boost!
Hope this little tips help you to get that job you’ve always wanted. Some may be a bit obvious, but they’r important to always keep in mind. Focus on what you want and go for it. Do you have tips for other people? Have you done something different or have a funny story to share? Tell us all about it!
Author: Gerardo García
Fat Panda Creative Director and Partner at Qualium Games. Specialist in interactive multimedia projects management. College Professor.