The Game Developer's Conference Career Center was a pretty neat place and a great resource for those who have already fully experienced the show floor. Actual developers and representatives from various well-known gaming companies like Riot Games, Campcom, and Microsoft just to name a few, were on-site to give advice to people who are looking to get work in the industry. I know a handful of you readers out there are looking to catch a break so I did all of you a favor and went around asking common job-seeker questions to a handful of different companies and representatives to see what responses each one had.
I was incredibly busy at the event myself so I had to come and go to the Career Center whenever I could to ask each question to whatever company, so the responses might not be from the same person. I am just going to assume these people had their company philosophy in mind still so perhaps it's not even a relevent issue. Regardless, this is here to help industry job-seekers so i hope you find some use out of it!
Hi there! What do you guys look for in a resume'?
Riot Games: It depends what you're looking to do obviously. The qualifications are important but I highly recommend you combine your resume with a well-thought out cover letter. One thing about Riot is we really care about your aspirations and what you want to do in the future. The technical stuff is good but we look at potential Rioters as a whole.
Warner bros. interactive: We're definitely looking at your qualifications and what you've been doing with your time. Most of the people we look at more have had prior experience, even if it's only a little bit. We want to know if you're capable of doing the tasks the job has you in for so a good, well-presented resume' is really important.
Capcom Vancouver: Resume' should really tell us what you have been doing lately as well as what you can do. Combine those facts with a nice portfolio or something else to show us, like a game or an analysis and you should be in good shape. Remember, your resume' regardless of the person you are is the first thing we see so it has to make some sort of impression.
Is it better to have a formal resume' or a creative one?
Riot Games: We get a kick out of creative resumes but sometimes they can hurt you if you over-do it. Though, in my opinion, between a formal and creative one, I'd likely remember a creative one. I remember a potential applicant who submitted her resume' as a magazine cover. We shared it with each other down at the office and she ended up getting an interview. The point of your resume' is to get an interview. When you're making a resume, forget about trying to get hired on the spot, and lean it more towards something like an incredible first impression. Aceing the interview comes later.
Microsoft: Depends what you mean by creative. Creative as in built into a webpage or a game? I've seen some and they're way cool. I recommend trying to be creative if you can execute well. If you can't, a formal resume' written in good ole' Word with qualifications that meet the job requirements will essentially do the same thing and for most, will actually get them an interview.
Do you guys actually read cover letters? How important is it to have one?
Riot games: Your cover letter is very important so yes, we actually read them. It's your one shot at telling us more about you without actually meeting you. This is where you'll tell us about things outside your resume' ,what your dreams and aspirations are, and for Riot in particular, how you feel about League of Legends. We appreciate well-thought out introductions and we put a lot of emphasis on 'player-driven' so you can tell us all about your passion for games, how you got to diamond in ranked, how you have a man crush for a pro player etc etc. And I beg beg beg beg beg of anyone listening to me, please don't tell us everything about your resume' in your cover letter. If I wanted to know about your technical expertise, I would just look at the darn resume'.
Do you guys pay a lot of attention to education? Like a college degree?
Riot Games: Let me tell you right now. I actually dropped out of college. I originally went for hardware, then went back for software but I ended up dropping altogether for a job. Ever since, I've been working in games for just over 9 years and by the time I got to Riot, I had a lot of experience on my belt. I'm not saying you don't NEED a degree per se, it can never hurt right? But I can tell you a lot of Riot's philosophy come mainly from what you can do as a person rather than all that technical stuff. If you go on our website, you can see which jobs actually require a degree and which ones require, I think it was 'or equivilant experience.' Yea getting that experience is hard but just show us something you can do and if it's worthy enough, we might get back to you.
Warner Bros. Interactive: There are definitely a lot of jobs you can apply to that require some sort of degree. Often times we look at what you are capable of. For the most part, we look at portfolios. I'd say portfolio, especially if you're in art or design, is vastly more important that what's on your resume'. Don't hold all of that against me though, a college degree helps, but what helps more is the juices you got along the way of getting it, you hear me?
Capcom Vancouver: Of course, who doesn't? But truth be told, you can get by a lot of the jobs with experience or some sort of killer portfolio. Just show us what you got. Something you made or designed and it might just fill in the gaps. However, a degree is required, or highly recommended for a lot of technical roles especially if you have no experience.
Do all your job openings require experience?
Riot Games: Pretty much yes. I think only 2% of our current job openings don't actually require experience in the field. However, a little bit of experience comes a long way and by that I mean anything counts. If you've made your own game or designed something small, that's still experience and gives you a ton of points. Even running a small youtube channel with a respectable amount of subscribers -- that aren't your mom, friends, and dog -- is considered "experience" if you're applying to management or video editing. People have to understand that unless you're looking at you know, head of sales or senior creative designer, you don't need years of professional experience.
Warner Bros. Studios: Well, not all, but you're not going to find very many jobs that don't require experience. The reason behind it is most of your fellow applicants will have had experience so you're essentially competing for spots. You don't have to have worked at naughty Dog or irrational or anything, but proving that you're capable through small projects, even ones smaller than today's indie game standards comes a long way. We just want to know if you can work together on a team and having been a part of a development team, even with your friends, is still relevent.
What's the best and/or fastest way to get my application in the eyes of a hiring representative?
Riot Games: By actually applying, ha! Remember, you have zero chance of getting hired if you don't actually apply. GDC is a great resource though. I'm not in the Art department, but all those people lined up behind me are having their portfolios reviewed by actual Rioters in the Art sector, and for free too. So I guess you asked fastest way... so i'll say coming out to a big gaming conference and meeting face to face with real Rioters. I myself am not an actual hiring representative but I'll make some recommendations for the right person.
Capcom Vancouver: I'm looking at applications and portfolios right now. Some of the student work is pretty sick! So with that said, while applying online is great, coming to an event as big as GDC ups your chances. Even if I don't like your application, you're sitting infront of me. I WILL tell you what you can do to improve and hey, I might even pass you a calling card, hehe.
Anyways, that's all for now as I slowly transribe all the questions I had answered! Stay tuned next time for part two as well as Career Center pictures!