Comment & Opinion

Entry level advice for getting a job in games

Entry level advice for getting a job in games

To recruitment and beyond…


We started Amiqus back in 2000, with a mission to take our love of the games industry and combine it with our experience in recruitment to help more people find the right job, at the right time.


20 years on and we're recognised as the leading games industry recruitment specialist in Europe, working with small and large clients internationally, connecting skilled and passionate candidates with the right studios in the gaming industry who share their values and vision.


If you're looking for your first step into the industry and you're a recent grad or school leaver, the best route in is to think about the studio you'd like to work for, the type of projects you're interested in, and the locations you can travel to or move to.


Have a look at studio websites, find an HR or recruitment contact on LinkedIn, and get in touch. We've taken lots of feedback from clients on what they like and don't like about applications from entry level candidates and have pulled it into this article to support you with your applications. Hope it helps!


If you have more questions and you'd like to get in touch, please check out www.amiqus.com; connect with us @weareamiqus and @amiqusgamesjobs or contact us at hello@amiqus.com.


See you soon!


Your CV - Here's what clients say they'd like to see -


1) First up – be clear about what you want to do and what you're looking for in your next career move - put this on your CV or cover letter. It's ok to have multiple talents when you're in game dev, but clients typically all start looking for a specific skill set when they're hiring - be clear what you want.


2) Include all the skills you have or that you're developing yourself in.


3) Other things to make sure you include on your CV –


Don't forget your contact details! You’d be amazed how many people leave these off, especially when it's a design led CV.


Show off your A-level results.


List all the extra-curricular activities and accomplishments that are relevant to the role. For example, if you've made your own game or film, if you've done courses outside of Uni, put them all on there.


If you have relevant work experience then of course include this too. I'll be honest… without any experience outside of your coursework, it's going to be difficult to make yourself stand out.


Clients tend to focus on your final year project and modules, so make sure you detail all the learning, what areas you've particularly enjoyed, and the project you've worked on, highlighting the role that you've played.


4) When you're applying for a job, tailor your CV to make it specific to the opportunity. When you read the job description on a client's website, if there are buzzwords on there, reflect them in your application and your CV.


5) Make sure you get a second set of eyes on your CV to proofread it, you will make mistakes that you won’t notice but clients will!


Finally – some specific DON’T’s on CVs from our clients...
• Don't use your school email address.


• Don't write too much - especially avoid putting in too much detail about all of your part-time jobs. If they’re not relevant to your future career directly just summarise.


• Don't use too many fonts - stick to a couple


• Don't send a generic CV - Do your research and show the client that you really want their job, not just any job.


Your showreel...


1) Let's talk about your portfolio. First up, the basics - make sure all your links work, make it easy to access, easy to navigate, well annotated, and not too cluttered


2) Find a few people whose work you admire who are already doing the job that you want and look at their portfolio on LinkedIn and Art Station. Check out what they show and how they show it - try and get yours to that standard.


How much work should you show and what should you include –


3) Some clients feel that Uni showreels can be wide-ranging but quite poor quality. They'd prefer to see just a few high quality pieces of work in there. They're really interested in what you do at Uni, but if the work you've produced in a final year project doesn't for whatever reason show off your best skills, then make sure you have a couple of assets on the reel that do.


4) Clients love it if you can include breakdowns. They are super useful and not enough artists show them. Breakdowns reveal your workflow and the process you followed and lots about you as an artist.


5) Show variety. This is really important for the generalists, but even if you're a specialist, try and demonstrate a broad skillset and show you can produce different styles.


6) Only include your best assets and ones you would show to a potential employer, and tailor the work to the role you're applying for, even if it means creating more pieces.


7) Personal work.


Don't be afraid to show your personal work. This shows your commitment outside of what you've been asked to do. and clients love this. It's ok to show progression or unfinished work, but you must be clear about this to distinguish it from more polished pieces.


8) And finally – look for opportunities for tests from studios where you can. It's a good way to secure a role, but if you don't get it, you can still add the work to your portfolio.


Yay – you've got an interview – Step 1 - Prep


1) Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience. Prep properly so that you feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident when you're there.


2) Clients expect all candidates to read their website, but those who stand out have Googled a bit deeper. The most important tip on research from clients was to (in capitals for emphasis!) ALWAYS PLAY THE GAMES THEY MAKE, be passionate about them, and be prepared to say what you think.


3) If you're not sure of the interview format, make sure that you email to check beforehand and ask who you will be meeting so you can build this into your research. Check to see if there's a test included, and if so, what that involves. Knowing what to expect when you arrive will really help with any nerves on the day.


4) Make sure you know exactly where you need to be and give yourself enough time to get there, but don't arrive too early! Have their contact number handy just in case you're running late.


5) Practice for some questions you’re likely to be asked - Chances are you will be asked about your previous experience at Uni or at work, have lots of examples of challenges you've faced and ways you've overcome these, including what you've learned.


Interviews
So you’ve prepped like a boss, now you're on your way to the big day itself!


The good news is a great CV, backed up with a strong portfolio and decent prep, can carry you through and now here you are…


1) You might be nervous on the day, but don’; let it overtake your enthusiasm. Nerves are understandable, but if you don't show passion and enthusiasm, they might read that as you not being that bothered.


2) Smile and make eye contact. Ensure your handshake is firm and confident.


3) Typically, if you fit the tech skills for the role, clients are looking to see if you will fit into the team – will you be easy to work with, will you respond well to critique, do you have genuine passion and enthusiasm for your subject?


4) Take your time – if you're not sure about a question, ask the interviewer to repeat it. If you can't answer a question, don't let this stall the interview. Simply ask if you can take some time to think about it, and go back to it at the end of the interview. If, however, you don’t know the answer to a question, just be honest, it's not the end of the world.


5) Questions - always ask a few questions about the company, where they are headed, the kinds of career paths available, how the role you're applying for fits into the structure of the business, and maybe a bit about the culture. Being appropriately curious will be positive for both parties, but don't ask questions for the sake of it, and make them relevant!


6) Finally some very practical advice from one of our clients - drink plenty of water pre and during the interview. When under pressure, it's easy to dehydrate and lose your voice.


Do follow up your interview with a quick email thanking them for their time. Let them know that you're happy to answer any further questions they may have and you look forward to hearing the outcome.


Here are some other pro tips on how to stand out from the crowd as an undergrad…


1) Students who stand out to our clients are those who aren't satisfied with just working on university projects - they're organising side projects with friends on other degrees, they're entering personal work into competitions. These students are constantly seeking feedback on their work - from lecturers and other students - they want to know both 'what' and 'how' to improve for a better grade next time.


2) Make yourself memorable - get in contact with studios that interest you for your future career. Maybe ask about voluntary opportunities, or ask for some feedback from them as a professional source. You'll be remembered when you come to apply for a role.


3) Be persistent and proactive in your applications, track where you've sent your CV, and follow up if you haven't heard anything after a week. Email the hirer directly if you can, and be polite and concise. If you are rejected, seek feedback and use that to improve.


4) Take opportunities to build your network - get some business cards printed with a portfolio link and attend industry events / game jams where possible. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can work wonders. Game jams will also help you to improve your skills and bulk out your portfolio.


5) Don't stand out for the wrong reasons - be careful with your online profile. Create a professional Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn account with matching email addresses. Use that on your CV. Be savvy about what you make public and what you don't.


6) Finally, be flexible with your expectations around project, company and location. Have a wish list, but stay open-minded to give yourself the best opportunity of landing a role in the industry.


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