Tips & Tricks: A Guide to Job Hunting
As some of you might already know, I will be graduating from the University of Advancing Technology at the end of April. While my upcoming graduation is very exciting, it is also rather nerve-racking, since it means the job hunt has begun. This post will act as a guide for fellow game development job-seekers, based on what I have heard and read from industry professionals and my professors, as well as what I am currently doing. Keep in mind that this is my first time applying for positions as a game and/or level designer, so I’m certainly no expert. If you have any questions or additional suggestions, please leave a comment below.
Before you even think about applying anywhere, you need to be prepared. This means you should have an updated (updated being the key word) resume/CV, portfolio, and LinkedIn. If these are not kept the most up-to-date, how will potential employers know what you have to offer? The portfolio is probably the most difficult, as it should only contain your best work. To ensure that you have a great portfolio, you need some good feedback, so ask around, first to friends and fellow students (if you’re a student), and then to professors and anyone you might know who is working, or has worked, in the industry. Solid critiques will only improve the quality of your work and how you showcase it, so listen carefully to any advice you’re given regarding your work. Furthermore, you should take a look at other portfolios that are similar to yours; you might find that someone has something you wouldn’t have even thought to include. As for your resume, you might need to find some outside help to make sure it looks good. If you’re still in school, they should have a career adviser to help you with this, but you can also check with friends and family. Your LinkedIn account should be the easiest to keep updated, but it’s also pretty easy to forget about. I like to check mine every month to make sure everything is accurate.
This is another important thing to do before actually applying. If you’re starting to look for a job, you should already know how to network, so I won’t go into that. There are a few key events that you should be attending that provide prime networking opportunities, including, but certainly not limited to, the Game Developers Conference, your local IGDA chapter meetings, game jams, etc. GDC is a great place to make new contacts, but it also boasts a career pavilion for help with job hunting. The career pavilion is similar to the expo hall, where various companies are featured at booths; at each booth, you can usually find several recruiters for that company. Talk to these recruiters, network with them, especially if you’re looking for a job. Ask them questions about the open position you’re interested in and what kinds of things they look for in their candidates. If possible, try to set up a meeting with the lead of whatever position you’re looking to apply to.
Now that you’re prepared to apply for jobs and you’ve networked, it’s time to start scouting. I break this into several steps, and it all starts with the job search. Start looking for openings for positions you are a) interested in, and b) qualified for. If you don’t have any experience yet, keep an eye out for entry-level positions. Not sure where to find job openings? There are a ton of resources online, including recruiters, company web sites, Twitter (search using #GameJobs), LinkedIn, and other web sites, such as Gamasutra Jobs and EDGE Jobs, just to name a few.
When searching for open positions, you’re going to want to make a list of openings. I’ve put together a simple spreadsheet that has the following information for each job opening, so that I can keep track of everything more easily:
- Company Name (Example: Gearbox)
- Position Name (Example: Environment Artist)
- Location (Useful for relocation)
- Qualifications (To help you remember what you need to apply)
- Additional Requirements (Anything optional or desired to help you apply)
- Link (So you can easily find it again)
- Applied To? (Yes if you’ve already sent an application for this position)
By keeping an organized list like this, I’ve found it much easier to keep track of everything, and it makes the application process a bit smoother, since all of your information is in one place.
The Next Steps
- Acing Your Art Test
- How to Prepare Yourself for a Telephone Interview
- Preparation Tips for Effective Phone Interviews
- Game Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
- Tips for Success – The Interview