This post is migrated here from my 2011 blog

It has been an exhausting few weeks looking for a job in game development, at one point I was talking to 4 interested employers at the same time, I could barely keep up, and I’m still talking and getting evaluated, no solid job offers yet though and only one of these companies apologized (apparently they gave the position I was being evaluated for to someone else, or maybe it was just because going there might take 2 months of embassy paperwork hehe) the rest are keeping me around for some reason.

The job opportunities I pursued vary widely, each has different requirements and responsibilities, and when I started looking I had no idea what to expect, I never hunted for a job like this and in fact I wanted to drown myself completely in it to learn how this works.

As usual I have an intricate plan I’m following that involve multiple stages and goals. The first stage was finished a few days ago, it involved applying to many interesting jobs via job sites as simply as sending my CV, no cover letter or attached work samples even if I have some (except for one job which was a big exception and a unique opportunity, took me 4 days of preparation to apply for it and my assessment is coming up next month!).

My goal for this first stage was to understand how companies evaluate candidates and get used to testing and interviews, and it was very interesting to see how many differences there are between companies in this regard, I guess it depends on company scale, how long have they been doing games and yes, how experienced they are in the field.

A second goal is to try working in the game industry before 2012, I was following the principle of “Whoever wants me first, gets me”. But it’s a bit unrealistic since it takes at least one month of paperwork to actually be able to go wherever the company is and I only had 2 months.

I’ll share a few lessons I learned that especially apply to long-distance gamedev job seeking:

  • Don’t trust a mobile phone for telephone interviews, and I’m talking here about long-distance calls, the quality sometimes is so rubbish that all you hear is noise that slightly resembles a human voice, always keep a backup method at hand, Skype is wonderful at this.
  • Read the clues you get before the interview (if you get any) and prepare for that, if you’re not sure be prepared for anything, never assume what will happen.. Possible interviews might range anywhere between non-technical personal interviews done by HR employees, to tough academic-like tests with very limited time. If you are lucky you might get an interview with a senior or a lead developer, but that happens less than I expected, some companies will put you through up to 3 interviews until you get a chance to talk to someone from the dev team, or at least tell you what that company is actually doing at the moment!
  • If I was seeking experienced employees for my own company, I’ll either specifically ask for work samples that directly apply to the position they are applying for, or even better.. give them a practical task that takes around a week to do which directly resembles the responsibilities they will have if they got employed. Unexpectedly until this moment no potential employer asked me for either of these! This could possibly have something to do with applying through job sites rather than directly, and who I’m applying to.. big companies don’t even reply to job offers without samples.

In the end, I was actually shocked that such opportunities are given just on the basis of a CV and nothing else, which brings me to where the real stuff will happen, Stage 2!

During the stage, rather than applying to jobs randomly, I’ll specifically mark a few jobs that I’m really interested in and completely excited about, provided all have similar requirements, then work hard for a 1-2 months to create substantial modern samples directly related to these requirements, be it code or demos, the goals being: to gain more experience in that field, to have something unique supporting my application, and so that when I apply to these jobs, I’m ready to work immediately on any related assessment tasks they might give me.

I already have 1 mark, let’s see how this goes.. :D

Happy job hunting everyone! here’s wonderful inspirational video:

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30 November 2011