Mobile gaming is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and requires a steady influx of new talent, ranging from illustrators, animators and programmers, to testers, marketing managers, and more. Using our own company as an example, we have over a thousand employees working across our eight global studios from all walks of life. In terms of hiring, we only care about one thing — do you have what it takes to be a game developer?
Unlike many professions, which have clear requirements, there is no cookie-cutter approach to being a viable candidate in gaming. However, there are things a candidate can do to stand out from other prospective hires to land a job at a major game developer.
There are several stages to “pass” in order to get hired by a game developer, each of which is crucial. Puns aside, the interview process largely mirrors missions in a game — in order to progress to the next level, you have to get beyond the current challenge.
Step 1: Writing a Resume
Before looking for a job, an applicant must prepare an exemplary resume and portfolio (for creative positions). This isn’t an earth-shattering epiphany. However, applicants for gaming companies can do a few things to make their resume stand out.
A resume says a lot about applicant at one of the most important parts of the hiring process. People in creative professions may take a more liberal approach to writing a resume, but technical specialists prefer a brief and precise layout. While it goes without saying that spelling and grammar must be correct in a resume, it’s doubly true for roles that require high levels of literacy and attentiveness to detail, such as copywriter or editor.
- Keep your target audience in mind. Recruiters are the first group to look at a resume, and they receive dozens of applications every day. HR managers are people of action, meaning they need clear, concise information about why a potential hire is the right fit for the position and nothing more. An elaborately designed resume with pictures of game characters, experience and skill bars will not help your case, so save creativity for the test assignment.
- Resumes shouldn’t be long. A page or two is enough to provide information about yourself and work experiences. If the recruiters have any further questions, they will contact you directly.
- Only specify working experience and information that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Job hopping can be a big red flag to an HR manager in the gaming space. Since projects tend to take a long time, consistency and stability are two highly sought after qualities of every employee. At Plarium, we reject about 80% of these resumes, because a person changing jobs several times a year is unlikely to have sufficient professional skills and the ability to work effectively in a team. If an applicant has short work experience, that individual should consider omitting it altogether or explain the reasons in the resume. One exception to this rule for students and recent graduates. Several months of experience is better than no experience at all.
Step 2: Create a Portfolio
Everyone working in computer graphics, whether they are a designer, artist, or animator, must have a sufficient portfolio. It serves as the most important indicator of their achievements and skills.
First, the layout must be flawless; layout issues will ruin the recruiter’s general impression of an applicant. Prospective hires should also remain consistent with the type of artwork displayed in their portfolio. For example, if a candidate wants to focus on characters, he or she should only include characters instead of mixing up characters with 3D models, and environment artwork. The portfolio must have more than one strong selling point to be competitive, meaning each piece should have multiple positive attributes like color rendering, plot or composition. Candidates should only pick out their best pieces and any extra artwork should be put in a separate folder labeled as “Searches and Tests.”
Step 3: Scouting Career Opportunities
Once resumes and portfolios are built, the next stage is looking for career opportunities. The chances of landing in a desired job are higher if you take advantage of every opportunity available. Here are some tips to get started:
Step 4: Test Assignment
- Create an account on professional social networks such as LinkedIn, and share all information that may be of interest to prospective employers. Make time for job search sites, as interesting openings can appear there too. Publish the resume where employers can see it, and don’t be afraid to actively apply to opportunities you’re interested in.
- Visit professional forums, sites, and video hosting sites: job openings are often published there. This is where you can make useful contacts and reach out to companies that interest you. Look into companies’ own websites and their social network pages to find job vacancies.
- Publish your portfolio on sites like ArtStation for artists or Vimeo, and YouTube for animators. Your work might get you noticed and earn you a job offer. Searching for positions on gaming developer websites, like Gamasutra, can also be a great way to locate position openings. They often have reputable and timely job listings.
- Break through the noise by sending a resume and portfolio with a cover letter even if the company doesn’t have any open positions at the moment. Explain in the cover letter your reasons for approaching them and what you can offer to the company.
Now that you’ve sent out your resume to all the desired companies, hopefully you will start receiving several responses from HR representatives asking to complete a test assignment.
Make sure to read the instructions carefully and complete the tasks correctly. The assignment must be done strictly according to the employer’s guidelines. Take a critical approach when looking at the end result and compare it to the requirements. If you see that you’ve strayed from the task and the outcome isn’t exactly what was expected, start over.
If you believe you can add something to the test, demonstrate your abilities and add your own vision, suggesting additional options. This isn’t against the rules and can be a symbol of your initiative and drive.
What matters most is that the work is done with passion. A candidate who puts their effort into their work and strives for perfection is likely to be invited to interview, even if their performance isn’t at the required level. If you send in an assignment that is unfinished or rushed, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Step 5: Job Interview
Once you’ve impressed the prospective employer with your resume, portfolio, and test assignment, it’s time to prepare for the interview. It may be a combination of a strict interview and a relaxed chat. Candidates applying for a gaming industry role that requires interaction with consumers, such as a customer support representative, will be evaluated on their ability to switch between tasks and keep their cool in the face of hostility. Also, be prepared to be tested in a stressful situation. There will be many people present in the interview, and there will often be a good cop/bad cop routine. The HR manager will most likely be the good guy, while the hiring manager will throw curveballs.
Be honest when discussing skills and experiences, even if there are stronger and weaker areas. Even if you get through the hiring process with a slightly fabricated work history, it’s highly likely it will come to light later on.
In the interview process, candidates will be evaluated not only as professionals, but also as individuals. For example, creativity is vital for artists who are responsible for the game’s visuals, while content managers need to be attentive to detail and able to process large quantities of data.
If the interview stage is a success, applicants will be invited to complete a trial period. They will receive the information required for understanding the company’s workflow in general and separate material for each specific job. Once the training documentation is filled out, the job begins. The trial period can last from a week to a month, depending on the particular role. If the applicant performs well, the company will extend the contract.
At first glance, landing a job at an ideal company seems like a hopeless quest, but it’s achievable with an effective plan. Don’t be discouraged to receive rejection letters: the games industry is highly competitive, especially right now. Remember that even The Beatles failed multiple times before becoming truly successful. Be stubborn, hone your professional skills, love what you do, and luck will be on your side!
Irina Serdyukova is Plarium's Lead HR Manager.