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'I don't have an iPhone': Neon Play's Oli Christie on what not to say when going for a job in the mobile games industry

Tip two: Don't start emails with 'Yo Mr. Oli'
'I don't have an iPhone': Neon Play's Oli Christie on what not to say when going for a job in the mobile games industry

You can never have too much good advice.

That's why, when Neon Play CEO Oli Christie took to YouTube to give his thoughts on the best way for newcomers to score a job in the mobile games industry, we couldn't resist following up to sample a bit more of his insight.

So, coming up is Oli's take on where schools and universities are going wrong, the best and worst things candidates have done in an interview, and why Neon Play is looking beyond British graduates for its talent.

Pocket Gamer: In the video you talk about the number of mistakes candidates make. Are schools, colleges and universities failing to tool up their students?

Oli Christie: I do feel that many universities or colleges don't teach students the right skills, software or programmes.

Many of them seem to be taught by people who have never made a console game or in particular a mobile game and are so long out of the industry, that they lag years behind in terms of relevance.

This leads to students being unqualified for the real world and not hugely employable.

For instance, I tell students and teachers we use Unity for all our mobile games - as many mobile studios do - yet most of them have never ever heard of it. That is a concern because a well-qualified Unity graduate will walk into a job these days.

Many students I have talked to also don't seem to believe that the console industry is in decline and also seem to think that mobile games are really poxy and inferior and that it's not a career to consider in games.

I tell them that the mobile companies are the only ones who are really recruiting in volume, but it's a battle to convince them. They'll learn a very harsh lesson when they qualify.

Does it surprise you that so many people looking to crack their way into the industry aren't clued up as the best way to approach it?

Does it surprise me? Not hugely I suppose.

As well as not having the technical skills, so many students don't have the understanding of a how to apply for a job or how to conduct a professional interview.

Schools and universities need to appreciate that teaching subjects is one thing, but ultimately their pupils all need to be helped to get a job. Those interview skills are equally as important, in fact, potentially more important.

You also recommend applicants using email rather than letter, and seeking out the name of who they want to approach rather than adopting the 'Sir/Madam' approach. Is this a case of people failing to keep up with the times?

To be fair, we don't get many letters, but we do get a lot of rubbish and boring email applications. And very few follow up with a phone call, which helps keep you front of mind and makes you seem keen.

Too much emphasis is put on a CV as well, and not enough on their portfolios, which ultimately is all I really look at. And many students leave university with not a huge amount to show for two to three years work.

What's the biggest mistake someone applying for a job at Neon Play has made?

One guy started the first line of his application with "Yo Mr. Oli", which I felt was slightly over familiar...

But the one thing that annoys me most is people who are not prepared for the interview and they've done no research on the company or our games.

The lamest reason is "I've been busy", which is bollocks and then the other one is "I don't have an iPhone". But surely someone they know might have an iPod or an Android phone? A well-researched interviewee stands out a mile and can really impress - looking and sounding keen go a long way.

In the past, I have virtually stopped an interview if they've clearly not been bothered to do any research. The way I see is quite blunt: If they can't be arsed to prepare for an interview, why should I be arsed to waste my time?

On the flip side, what's the most creative or impressive thing someone has done to try and get a job?

We were looking for a marketing manager and he came and did a stand-up talk with presentation boards and Neon Play branded note cards that he made himself.

And did it work?

It created a great impression straight away, he wowed us with his enthusiasm, knowledge and presentation skills and we offered him a job on the spot.

Overall, what do you make of the new talent hitting the industry?

It's very hard to find good talent and recently we have recruited three guys from Greece, Poland and Hungary - all of whom were already living in the UK.

They're all brilliant at their jobs, very nice and speak excellent English, but it seems to be a sign of the times that there are less and less good British grads out there, which is a bit depressing.

Colleges and universities need to work closer with local studios, find out which software we're all using, what skills we need and be prepared to adapt quickly.

The mobile and tablet games industry is booming, but if the skills shortage gap isn't breeched, then growth will become harder.

Thanks to Oli for his time.