10 Video Game Job Search Don’ts

10 Video Game Job Search Don’ts

A lot of people have already said many valid points on this topic (see similar article), but due to their sugarcoating, a lot of job seekers really don’t seem to see the real problems with the way they apply for jobs in the video game industry. So, here are my 10 video game job search don’ts that I’ve compiled from various chats I’ve had with my fellow game devs.

A little disclaimer: I am fully aware that a lot of good and skilled people get rejected for jobs because of the companies themselves and their oddly inappropriate standards for hiring new people, but in this post in particular, I will only focus on the situations in which the applicant is at fault for getting rejected for jobs.

Having said that, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that if you want to be treated like a professional, you need to act like one. However, a lot of people seem to be misinterpreting what it means to be “a professional.”

1. You are rude and disrespectful.

This is the first and probably most important of all video game job search don’ts. If you’ve been rejected for a job, have asked for clarification, and the recruiter has been kind enough to take the time to give you more details pertaining to why you were rejected, do not respond with insults about how the recruiter and/or company don’t know anything about the industry they are working in because they weren’t able to recognize your talent. I can’t believe this needs to be said, but no matter who is in the right, you should never lash out at recruiters/companies because you got rejected.

Many companies communicate and a lot of people in the industry know each other. You will not only burn the bridge with that company when it’s highly likely you might actually want to try applying for a job there again in the future, but you will most likely also burn several other bridges when the word gets out to the recruiter/company’s network about your incredibly unprofessional behavior. It might be good to tell someone who rejected you off and boast about how they don’t know what they’re missing, but just remember that it’s usually people who behave this way that end up not achieving anything that they promised later, and this is one of the reasons why. When you’re acting this way, you’re not making the recruiter/company feel bad for not hiring you, you’re just showing them you’re unprofessional and insecure.

Correct Approach

“Thank you for taking the time to give me more detailed feedback on this, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.”

If you can’t keep your ego and temper in check after a simple job application rejection, then you don’t deserve a job—period.

2. You are self-absorbed.

Unlike most other video game job search don’ts, this one doesn’t always have to result in you not getting the job, but it has the potential to do great damage nonetheless. Many people often mistake arrogance for confidence. If the recruiter tells you the reason why you were rejected was that you failed a certain part of an assessment test or something similar, don’t reply with something along the lines of: “I actually thought I handled that part the best. 🙂”

What is your end goal with that?

a) Obviously, the recruiter disagrees, so, what else are they supposed to say to that statement?

b) If you are actually trying to coerce the recruiter into giving you more details regarding why exactly they felt you underperformed in the task in question, then you could have done it in a much less arrogant way.

Correct Approach

“Could you please tell me where exactly you felt I underperformed in the assessment test and why if it’s not too much trouble? Depending on the nature of the concern, I could certainly try to change my approach to something closer to what you are looking for if you would be willing to give me that chance. However, if you do not wish to move forward with my application regardless, I understand and thank you for your time.”

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by just not acting like you’re better and/or know more than everyone else.

3. You’re making demands.

Now, this is one of the video game job search don’ts is something that came to me as quite a surprise when I first heard about it. Absolutely never talk about how and why you will not accept some terms of the job in question like the company should be grateful you are even considering working for them.

If you can/will not accept any of the terms of the job you are applying for, don’t state that in your cover letter in such an arrogant way that basically implies you are demanding the employer accommodate you. Here’s a thought: why not try asking the company about possibly changing or modifying the terms you are not comfortable with?

Correct Approach

“I have a few concerns with this and this part of the job descriptions for such and such reasons. Is there a chance you might consider removing or tweaking them if at all possible?”

You will have accomplished the same thing, but you won’t have come off as a complete diva. And if you really feel so strongly about this that you don’t even want to waste your time discussing the subject, why are you applying for the position in the first place?

4. You’re trying to justify your lack of effort.

This one of the video game job search don’ts just came off as silly to me. Do people really think their excuses will actually work? Seriously, don’t talk about, for example, how you haven’t played any bad games in the genre(s) of your potential future employer’s games because your time is precious and you only play games that are worth it.

It costs you nothing to not be a douche. I understand what it means to mostly play only the games you know you will enjoy, but:

a) A professional will also try to play similar bad games to learn more about how to make the employer’s game(s) better.

b) A professional would not phrase this in such a pretentious way.

Correct Approach

“Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to play any known bad games in this genre due to my other obligations holding my schedule hostage. However, I plan on rectifying this by seeking to discover and play a few of them for the sake of bringing more value to you.”

5. You think being honest about just wanting to work at a certain company for the money is quirky and/or makes you seem confident.

I always thought this one of the video game job search don’ts was a no-brainer, but apparently, there are people out there who firmly believe in this. In any case, don’t write in your cover letter about how you are not a fan of your possible future employer’s game genre but don’t mind working on such games because “that’s what it means to be a professional” or “because we all have to eat.”

If you don’t like the game genre but need the money/experience, don’t state it explicitly. Why would anyone want to hire you if it’s clear from your cover letter that you are the opposite of passionate about their company and what it does? Yes, we all have to eat, and yes, we can’t all just wait for our favorite company to hire us, but here’s the thing: If you have hundreds other people lined up to work at your company that are highly enthusiastic about it, why would you want to hire someone who you know for sure doesn’t care about your company and is just interested in getting paid? It’s not that the companies don’t think you’d do a poor job because of it, although you are most certainly implying that with your statement, but they’d just rather hire someone seemingly more driven and motivated by things other than money since they can.

In addition, even if you don’t like the kinds of games you’d be working on at a potential job, you should at least start playing them for the sake of being able to do your job better. This is what it means to be a professional. Being willing to work at a job you don’t like because you need the money and being open to the employer about it does not.

Correct Approach

“I haven’t played many games in that genre yet, but I plan to start playing them more often in order to get a better perspective on what makes the genre appealing to the players and to avoid common pitfalls.”

This shows initiative and a positive attitude, and sometimes, that alone can land you a job despite the lack of qualifications. Companies that are just starting out usually prefer to hire less qualified people to save up on money until they start earning more, but they then specifically look for these kinds of people with a can-do, will-do attitude who are willing to do more than is expected of them because they want to prove themselves and be considered for promotions and raises later.

6. You don’t follow rules and guidelines because you feel you are above them.

Another video game job search don’ts gem. When presented with a task, even if you disagree with it in any way, shape, or form, don’t be like: “I know you wanted me to do this, but I thought it’d be better if I did this other thing, so I did.”

Correct Approach

If you have issues with the tasks you are given during the application process, send an email or a DM, and discuss it. Don’t just ignore the instructions and do what you think is better.

Even if you’re right, this is a clear sign that you are most likely going to be insubordinate at your job, should you get it. Perhaps the company has a very good and specific reason to ask you to do the things that are outlined in the task instructions. If it turns out you were wrong and they were right, you will have wasted a lot of their time that could have been saved if you’d have just asked about it beforehand instead of assuming you know better and doing things your way. Nobody wants employees who behave like this, and I’m sure if you were in the employer’s position, you wouldn’t either.

7. You don’t research the company and what it does.

If you don’t research the company you’re looking to work for even one bit, obviously, to the company, this means that you do not really care about them or the work they do, which means you will most likely not take the initiative to improve or learn the ropes unless your livelihood is directly threatened if they do end up hiring you. Again, companies have already more than enough people who are more enthusiastic and willing to do their very best for the good of the company to choose from. Why would they settle for someone who is only interested in doing the minimum of what is required of them? This one of the video game job search don’ts has been especially talked about in all kinds of job search education programs, so, it baffles me that there are still people out there who don’t do this.

Correct Approach

Take the time to at least play a few games in the company’s target genre(s), as well as their own. Read up on the company a bit.

8. You submit sloppy work.

This is probably one of the video game job search don’ts that I will never understand. Why do people do this? Don’t skip out on checking and fixing any piece of work you submit to your future employer for any reason whatsoever. Similarly, don’t ever try submitting anything you put minimal effort into, hoping it will land you a job. “Oh, my previous employer didn’t mind, but I can pay more attention to that in the future if you’d like.” That’s not an acceptable excuse. Even if your previous employer didn’t mind such things, why would you assume the same for every other company? In addition, why would you NOT want to show yourself in the best possible light to a potential future employer?

Correct Approach

Make sure you check and polish anything and everything you ever submit to your possible future employer(s) and even current employers unless they specifically give you permission to not have to try as hard. This should go without saying.

When you are sending in any piece of writing, or anything at all: CV, cover letter, etc., the company is going to assume this is the best you can do in terms of skill and quality. If you send in something you put little effort into, they are either going to think you’re incompetent or lazy, and you don’t want to be perceived as either of those things when asking for a job.

9. You skim through job posts and/or instructions on how to apply for the jobs you are interested in.

It’s painfully obvious when someone didn’t even bother to read the job post and just contacted the post author saying, “Hey, I saw your job post and I’m interested in applying.” It makes you look sloppy, uninvested, and downright lazy, which is not how you want to portray yourself to a possible future employer. This should even be here among these video game job search don’ts, but I’ve heard of this happening multiple times, so I felt like I had to include it.

Correct Approach

Read the whole job post very carefully, including the part about what is required of you to submit in order to apply.

Most employers will not contact you back to remind you of what they need from you or even consider your application otherwise. If you can’t be bothered to read the instructions on how to apply for a job, why should the companies believe that you would try any harder if you were to actually get the job?

10. You’re applying for positions you’re seriously underqualified for.

This one of the video game job search don’ts is probably the smallest offender, which is why I placed it last on the list. For example, if the company is looking for someone to fill a senior position and requires at least five years of experience and several shipped games, don’t waste everyone’s time by applying if you don’t even closely meet the qualifications.

Correct Approach

Feel free to shoot a little bit higher than what you might be truly qualified for, but compensate for your lack of qualifications with a clear sign of a willingness to learn and to go above and beyond.

But even with that attitude, don’t go applying for senior positions if you’re just starting out and the like regardless. Ambition and a great work ethic can make up for a lot of things, but they can’t perform miracles. However, some things can, and that’s networking. Check out this article to learn how!

So, there it is. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my 10 video game job search don’ts and learned something new just like I have while I was talking to my industry colleges, who so generously provided me with most of the scenarios that I’ve spoken about in this article.

With that said, did you happen to recognize yourself having done one of these things while applying for a job? Are there any points you might disagree with me on?