[Looking for a job in games? The Game Prodigy author Brice Morrison will help you use advanced job board techniques.]
If you're in school and looking towards getting a job in the games industry, then you've likely thought of looking at online job boards. Studios big and small use job boards to find new talent for their upcoming game projects, and so perusing the Gamasutra Job Boards and postings regularly is a great way to round out any job search.
But too many students make common mistakes when they're looking for jobs online. The worst thing is, they don't even know they're making them, because they haven't really applied to jobs at a game studio before. Making these mistakes narrows their opportunities and may prevent them from getting a job, or worse, landing them in a job that isn't for them.
As someone who has looked at resumes coming into a studio as well as applied for jobs myself, I've learned the ins and outs of using job boards for all their worth. There are simple strategies that you can use to turn online job boards into an asset for you, instead of a task that you need to trudge through. By using job boards right you can build your skills, improve your chances, and eventually get the perfect job for you.
So let's take a look at what you can do to be successful in getting your first game gig. There are three main stages: first, you want to use job boards to target your skills and grow as a future game developer. Second, you want to find the jobs that are right for you and get over the common "1-2 years experience" hump. Finally, you want to use what I like to call the "Studio Checklist Method" to stand out on your application and make sure you're a perfect match.
Step 1: Use Job Boards to Target Your Skill Development
That's right - you can actually use job boards to build your skills and gain more experience, even before setting your foot in a studio. I'll explain how.
I'm a big believer in the concept of "career capital" - in order to get great jobs and build a successful career, you need to learn valuable skills that others will pay for. The better you get at these skills, the easier it will be to trade in your "career capital" to get a great job. People who become Design or Art Directors have tons of career capital that they've built up over time. They have skills that studios need to make great games.
But how to you know what kinds of skills game studios want? Sure, they want someone who can "program", but what languages specifically? What frameworks, what engines, what types of tasks? Sure they need someone who can "draw", but what techniques and styles specifically?
Well there's two ways to find out. You can ask someone who works at a game studio (which may be difficult, especially if you don't know many people) or you can, you guessed it, use the job boards.
Job boards are a great resource for learning about what skills are currently valuable out there in the "real world". It's like being given the answers to an exam - even if you don't have the skills now, the skills you need are laid right out there for you. It's just up to you to study and put in the time to develop them.