Applying For A Job: Please Do It RIGHT.
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The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Let me start with the shameless plug: we are recruiting. Yay, Tripwire! A good way to start 2010. Come and work in Roswell, Georgia - go look us up on the job postings here on Gamasutra. Hot summers, a genuine 4 seasons, Fall in the mountains to rival any in the country, studio on the up - what more could anyone ask for?
Trouble is, the answer seems to be "jobs for nothing". And it has really got under my skin, so I'm going to rant.
Before I do, to all those great applicants we have had over the last few days - thank you. Keep them coming. Some great applicants, with great skills and great portfolios. The applications have been well presented, the portfolios are easy to find and look through. Very professional, very much the kind of people we were hoping to find. We'll be getting back to you.
Now, the rant. For the love of all that is sensible, will everyone else PLEASE start thinking about how they do their job applications? I am ranting because I tend to skip-read everything that comes in, although the relevant heads of department here will actually look through properly and make the decisions.
There are quite enough sites (including this one) that hand out advice to job-seekers, so that I shouldn't need to launch in. But the catalogue of crap, stupidity and lack of thought that has turned up in amongst the good is staggering. In no order of irritation or priority:
[Note: no, I am not quoting from any recent job applications. I am paraphrasing, to protect the dim.]
1. As a colleague pointed out recently, please make it seem like you care who we are, you have done the most basic research (www.tripwireinteractive.com - how hard is that??). Like, make the application to US, not some generic blurb you have sent out 100 times already. It helps if you give the impression you want to work for Tripwire, rather than "your studio". Name a game of ours you like (or can find the title of on our website) rather than "your games". Make an effort, FFS.
2. Don't babble on and talk utter crap. Don't try and get clever. "You need winners and I am a winner!". Just... NO. No-one is going to go "wow, he is SO right!" All we do is cringe, toss the application and move on. Keep it brief and to the point. I know I babble on for pages - but NOT in a job application.
3. Read the job post and take note of it. Please. Our job postings state that you need to have the relevant legals in place to be able to work in Roswell, GA. So don't apply if you can't. Look what people are asking you to tell them and ACTUALLY TELL THEM! They want to know about salary? Tell them. They want a list of Wii games you have worked on? Tell them.
4. There is a "2-second rule". If your application doesn't get my attention (for the RIGHT reasons) in the first few seconds, I am going to move swiftly on. So, above all else, make sure that the things I want to know about are hit right up front. Easy to read, too, please. "I am an environmental artist with 5 years experience in Unreal Engine-based games" works. "I love to play games and have always dreamt of doing cool stuff" does NOT.
5. Talking of making it easy: resume, portfolio, anything else should just be a click away, if not included in the email. "Go to my website and click on resume and then download and then...". No, I don't have the time. Don't make it hard for me to find out more. If you've got my interest, don't throw it away again!
6. On the basics: spell-check. The "F7" key in MS-Word/Outlook. Use it. It is your friend. It is one of those teenie things that helps to stpo you looking really sputid
To sum up a good application: write a relevant and brief email that is directed to the company with jobs. Do a quick bit of research first and personalize just a touch. Read the job posting and hit the key elements in the beginning of the email. Tell me the things I want to know quickly, concisely and without a pile of b/s wrapped around it. Attach relevant documents or link directly to them. Portfolio well organized, just a click away.
[For those of you trying to break into the industry for the first time: I KNOW it is bloody hard. Same rules apply, though - make the application shine!]
And to all those of you writing job applications that go straight in the trash: look, YOU aren't going to get a job with idiot job applications. Unless you are want a job that requires an idiot. And you know what? You are probably getting in the way of all the great talent out there by cluttering the place up. Oh - and NO - your "extraordinary talent" will NOT shine through a crap job application. Believe it or not, one of the key attributes is PROFESSIONALISM. Try and it achieve it in your job applications and people WILL take you more seriously.
"My application technique is great - this doesn't apply to me!" You think? How many interviews are you getting? If the answer is "lots", then you are probably right. If in doubt, here's an idea: look back at your last job application and see what you told them in the first few seconds of reading. Here is the key thing - we're all busy. Those of us recruiting are too.
Imagine you have 3 deadlines looming, someone yelling tech questions from the next office and you have a hangover. Does your application immediately say "Hey - this guy looks like a good fit for us?" If not, why not? Work on it until it does, in those first few sentences. And then do the same every single time you answer a job posting on this site or any other.
This was supposed to be a short rant but, like all good rants, it got carried away under its own head of steam. Take THAT as a warning too. Keep it short and sweet. Make it obvious that you tick lots of the required boxes, without making it an effort for me to see that and you will be huge step towards the job you want.
Oh - and good luck with the job hunting!