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  • Red Flags On The Job Hunt: Student Edition

    [02.08.18]
    - Meagan Byrne
  •  For some reason my school actively pushed back (hard) against any suggestion that an employer might be a bad fit or just bad in general for one of their graduates. In a way this makes sense, they want you to get a job in your field so they can post numbers saying they get graduates jobs in their desired field because who needs to be treated like a human when there's dollars to be made?

    *ahem*

    That might be a little bit of a cynical exaggeration, but it does tend to be a student's overwhelming experience that they are set up to put themselves in terrible and in some case dangerous working conditions because they are not introduced to basic warning signs or red flags during the job hunt process. I've worked in at least four different industries, but I can tell you these basic red flags are found no matter where you go.

    I want every student who goes out into the wilds of the job market to at least know the dangers and if going with a company who has these red flags to at least go in with eyes-wide open.

    So here are my list red flags to look out for in no particular order:

    1. Their job posting doesn't say what you would actually be doing or contains a lot (like a lot) of jargon

    I fell into this trap a few times when I had been unemployed for a while and needed the work. In one case I thought the position was for an admin assistant (because that was the title) but during the phone interview it became obvious this was really a job as a personal assistant to the owner. Totally different (doing her laundry was one job requirement) then what I thought and when I looked back at the job posting there was literally nothing in there about what I would be doing. It only listed the qualifications I needed to have.

    Do not assume that you know what the job will entail based on the job title especially in games, lots of big studios use the same terms/titles for totally different things. So if you can't see at least three tasks you would be expected to do email them for more information or bring it up in the interview. 

    But be wary, if instead of concrete tasks they start using a lot of vague terms or too much jargon in their answer you may end up doing work you have no idea how to do and being disciplined for failing at it.

    2. They try to make you upset or run "social experiment" tests during the interview

    As a favor to a friend I applied to a receptionist job when I was young and wanted to have a better paying summer job than lawn mowing. I knew it wasn't a great place, but I was not ready for the manager/owner to do everything he could to make me upset during the interview. When we were finally finished (and after I had decided I definitely didn't need the money that bad) he congratulated me for passing all his tests and offered me the job. I turned it down. After I got the whole story from my friend who admitted that he liked to scream at staff whenever he was upset. Which was often.

    Game development is hard and stressful, you do not need to make your life worse by working for people who would rather find those who can "take it" rather than fix their work environment. It's one thing to have an interviewer admit that it can get very stressful it's another thing for them to try and shit-test you to find your breaking point.

    These are toxic people and you need to get the hell away from them.

    3. They aren't very well put together at the interview

    This  one may seem petty but believe me, how a person dresses and presents themselves during an interview is as important for the employer as it is for the prospective employee. If you arrive to an interview where your potential manager looks like a mess or worse, is so disorganized that they think you are an entirely different candidate because they stapled your resume to someone else's cover letter. (True story. The interviewer yelled at me for saying in my cover letter that I could do full stack development, but that there was nothing in my resume to prove that. I kindly pointed out that, that was not my cover letter and my name wasn't Michelle as he could see from the top of my resume)

    Having a frumpy manager is not the end of the world, but it has been my overwhelming experience that managers who look frazzled are frazzled. That often makes for a very difficult and stressful work environment which is why it's good to ask a lot of questions about how they like to manage or about their expectations of a worker. Generally get a feel for what they're like to work for.

    It may be they were having a bad day or, more likely, that they are constantly unprepared and distracted.

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