There are plenty of mistakes people make when looking for work in the game industry, I’ve made my fair share as well. The most common mistakes though, are sometimes the most severe, and could significantly reduce your chances of finally landing the job you want. If you’ve made a couple of these mistakes yourself, don’t fret. Simply take note and try to avoid making them in the future.
5. Assuming a college degree or certificate will be enough.
When you apply for work in the game industry, it’s great to have a degree or certification to help back up your skills, but don’t assume that alone will be enough to get you a job. There are a lot of people applying for the same job. A college degree might just help you get through the first pass, but when the company takes a closer look at your resume/CV, that single accomplishment won’t help too much. Make sure your past work history, awards, and accomplishments help display why you’re a strong candidate. If the position requires you to submit some of your previous work, make sure it’s the best you’ve got and that it’s relevant to the position.
4. Begging / pleading in a cover letter rather than explaining why you’re the perfect candidate.
Telling an employer that you’ve always wanted to work for their company isn’t bad (though it certainly won’t make you stand out), but make sure that statements like this don’t turn into pleading for a job. Many candidates will write cover letters that explain how great this job is for them and how much they’d love to work for the company… and that really doesn’t tell the company how you will wind up benefitting them. They’re the ones with the power, and they’ve got to read through hundreds of applications. If they have to choose between someone that’s concisely explained how their skills fit the role required, and someone that’s really really excited about the job if only they’d be given a chance… Well, it should be obvious who’s making the better impression.
3. Not focusing on a specific field or position.
You don’t necessarily have to pigeonhole yourself into a position as specific as “3D Interior Asset Modeler” but if that sounds like a job you could do, you may not want to stretch yourself further than 3D modeling/animating. You may have a some experience animating, a couple of 3D models you’ve made, bit of experience programming, and you’ve built yourself some PC gaming rigs, plus that website you made a few years back. However, if you try to list all that for the asset modeler position, you may have a tough time convincing the employer that you have the focus needed for the role. Maybe that job is for a smaller company and they need someone that can list the hardware needed for their workstations, build the 3D models, and then write some code that will help move those models into the game, in which case, you’re perfect for the position and you should absolutely list all of those skills. More often than not though, candidates wind up rambling off a list of skills that don’t necessarily apply to the job and just make themselves appear spread too thin.
2. Not living near an industry hub, and not planning to move to one.
This is a difficult one for many candidates because it could involve a huge change in their lives. If you don’t live anywhere near a company that makes or tests video games, you’re going to have a tough time convincing them that you’re worth the effort to re-locate. If you’re planning on attending college soon, you can avoid this by attending a college that’s located in an industry hub. While attending, assuming you’ve got an address in the area, you can send out resumes and apply for jobs in the area. If you’re already out of college, or already have professional experience in another industry, you may have to take the plunge and move out to an area that has game industry jobs. This may mean saving up money, finding another job in the area to support yourself while applying for the game industry jobs, and taking a pay cut without guarantee of landing game industry work. This obviously isn’t for everyone; you may have a family to support, you may lack the funds to move and live in a new city, or you may simply prefer not to live in an area like Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York (There are many other hubs, those just happen to be some of the larger ones). If that’s the case, it’s not a mistake, it’s choice, and a valid one.
1. Ignoring other job opportunities that could build your resume and skill set.
When applying for jobs in the game industry, experience can be very important in helping you stand out among all the other candidates. Sorry high-schoolers, your strong desire to work in the industry and your honor roll isn’t going to hold up against a candidate that’s worked for a small software company for the past couple of years doing similar work (whether it’s testing, programming, design, etc.). If you have the opportunity to work for a company that will help you build an important skillset, or pad your resume with relevant work experience, then it’s important to consider that option seriously. Finally landing a job in the game industry can take years (to the dismay of many young candidates), but lacking the credentials to get into the industry will set you back even further. Consider your job opportunities carefully; if taking a job will help you support yourself while looking for work in the industry, offer you training or experience that will make you a better candidate, or give you contacts into the industry, it could be your best option. Don’t pass up a good opportunity just because you’re holding out for only positions within the game industry.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and hope it helps you avoid some of the common pitfalls made when applying for work in the game industry. If you’ve got any questions about mistakes you may have made, suggestions for other articles, or just want to let me know what you think, feel free to post in the comments below. If you’d like to learn more about the Game Industry, you can browse through my Index of Game Industry Articles.