25 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Own Job Search
When you’re job hunting, you can go mad if you think about the amount of factors beyond your control that affect your chances of getting hired.
The economy, your location, industry trends — even the hiring manager’s mood — can influence whether or not you get a job.
Still, as nice as it would be to blame your lack of offers on external factors, you can’t forget that common denominator in your job hunt — from the résumé to the interview — is you.
Finding myself in (yet another) job search cycle. I'd be very interested to hear what sorts of resources and techniques you all use in your searches.
Also, I'd like to toss out a few things I've picked up along the way as both an applicant and hiring manager. Many are generic to any job search, but they apply to specialized work as well:
- Do your homework. Find out about the company you are applying to, including the kinds of products they make, their target market, and most importantly, the contact info of the hiring manager (who is never, *ever* the person who posted, or is listed as the contact in, the opening).
- Tailor your cover letter to the job description and the company, and offer them something they haven't thought to ask for.
- Have someone else proof-read your resume and cover letter - misspellings, bad grammar, and clichés are all kisses of death.
- Whenever possible, show up. Conferences are a great place to network, but so are galleries and concerts and advance screenings and any other events that are likely to attract the crowd you want to join.
- User groups like this one are a great way to learn who is active in the industry, and what kinds of things they are working on and with. Scour the web for and join as many of these kinds of groups as you can find - many of them have job boards, and some have directories of companies. In Chicago, the Creative Directory, (also known as the Production Bible), is online at:
The best job I've ever had was with a company that I found there and cold-called five minutes after they decided to create a Director of Audio position.
- Pick companies that you would like to work for and nag them to hire you. That is, contact them every three months or so and ask if they have any current or upcoming needs that you could help them fill. Even if they don't have an opening today, they might have one next week, or next July, and if they know you're available and interested, you might get a call from them before they post the job publicly.
- Follow through. If someone writes back to you that they've received your resume, (and it's not a donotreply email) write back and say thank you. If you don't hear from them within a couple of weeks or so, send them an email saying that you've applied and are following up to make sure they've received your application, and maybe ask if there is anything you can do to help them expedite the process.
If you actually get a phone call, write to the person you talked to and tell them how great it was to meet them and that you are looking forward to continuing the conversation. And always, *always* send a thank you within one day to everyone you meet with at an
If any of this sounds like shameless glad-handing, I can tell you it's possible to do all these things in a thoughtful, genuine, and professional way that will set you apart from most of the other applicants.
I guess it depends on what field of audio you work in. I've (for those of you who don't know), always worked in video games, started as a composer, then I ended up being trained in sound effect work for games (amongst other things), and eventually becoming a manager (after receiving more training), even after becoming a manager, I got further training this time is sound recording. I've worked as a composer, sound editor, recording engineer. Audio Manager, Audio Director, Audio Lead (publishing), and now as a dedicated Sound Designer.
I stopped being a manager about 3 years ago, this was because I wanted to learn first hand about making games on the new generation of consoles, and I wanted to do that hands on rather than from a management position. Some have said it was a step back, which is funny because I see it as a return to core skills, I know the new generation of gaming technology inside out now, I know what you can and cannot do, and I also understand about expectations (from consumer, to publisher, and to your peers).
The step from the PS2 era to the PS3 era has been a very interesting one for me. But I'm not saying I won't be a manager again, there is kind of an inevitability about that happening, because of the knowledge I've learned it puts me as a prime candidate to manage a production. (and considering the background and training I have)
But the point I'm going to make here is that 2 years ago I realized, I wasn't ready for next gen, I could make audio, but my understanding of what next gen actually meant was limited to prediction, and not based on fact. So I took a entry level position as a sound implementer at Rebellion on a salary that would be for a graduate, but I got promoted to Sound Designer after six month because of my expertise (and a pay rise which was unexpected, so thanks for that Reb's.), and I have really enjoyed working on my first "next gen" production. (And my god its different from working on last gen, but I'll do a long post about that some other time).
Now things are different and I have to confidence to do any audio job on a production and do it well, and the important thing is that I am able to show this to prospective employers.
You have to sell yourself, but you also have to have something to sell, it doesn't matter what I did 15 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago, but what I did in the past 2 years is of the most interest to any employer, if you can show you are savvy, creative, and determined, and that you have currently knowledge then that will go a long way to impression a good employer.
I'm not dismissing the work I've done in the past entirely, certainly not the management work, but core current knowledge really helps in video game, probably because it changes so much.
And remember to proof read any official communication's, if you are like me and speed write things without checking what you have written and then when you re-read a post or letter and there are lots of errors in it, like the post below. but I'm sure you followed what I was saying :)
Being careful not to include any stray apostrophes, for instance ;)
You gotta know who you're writing for, too. Sometimes even the notion of a cover letter is just silly.
It's always funny when we're acting like immature kids around the office and an email comes in from someone looking for a job that reads like an application to law school. "I believe I would be a valuable asset to your organization, stuffy, stuffy stuff..."
We're wearing shorts and tee shirts, being big dorks talking about games, mythical creatures and robots, saying "dude" and "awesome" way too often... anyone we'd even consider hiring would have to mesh with that, so the emails that stick are the ones where the applicants are confident enough with themselves enough and understand us enough to know to talk "on the level" with us.
Someone who seemed intelligent and easy-going in email, sent us a video with some game footage they'd worked on that sounded bad ass and offered to grab a drink with us after work would probably have a foot in the door.
While I agree that the more you know about who you're writing to the better, I think as game companies grow up, you're better off keeping it professional. Sure, some companies may deprive themselves of your services because they sense a personality mismatch at the expense of sound design expertise. But most will respect a professional.
More important than trying to exude attitude is honesty. Just keep it simple and factual. Highlight your achievements. Let your reel speak for itself. If a company is looking for a certain type of personality, then either you are or you aren't. There's nothing you can do about that. I believe (or maybe hope) that most really don't consider personality all that much because in the end, it doesn't really matter.
There's nothing wrong with saying that you believe you can be a valueable asset to a potential employee if you really do believe it and can back the statement up. After all, the bottom line is, how are you going to help the company be profitable.What do you have to offer?
Oh yeah, and make sure you can spell and write intelligently. That actually does say something about you. Typos and poor use of language will often cause your letter to be filed at the bottom of what is probably a large stack. A good cover letter can be a great tool to initiate communication. Show that you know how to use it wisely. -dd -dd
"most will respect a professional. More important than trying to exude attitude is honesty."
Well put. Diversity and difference are valuable assets, to the individual, to the team, and to the whole company. Acting out a stereotypical false self to fit into a clique will unravel in the end, best to be yourself up front.
The kind of people you want to work with will judge you on your merits. The human element is so random it's not worth guessing at. It could be your interest in go-karting or taekwondo that is the clincher, something common and ordinary.
In fact you're more likely to be rejected by in-group prejudices for minor differences if you play up to a role.
"If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist, it's another nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standard of nonconformity."
I agree, guys.
My comments certainly came from the far opposite of the spectrum whereas moderation is always best. I guess I get a little excited about letting people know that they can be themselves when trying to find a job because I used to forget that during my job hunting days.
So yeah, that's my point: be yourself.
Agreeing with a lot of what's been said. My policy has always been to be myself, but show the best of myself. So when I choose clothes for an interview, I dress as I would for a date with a girl I like (in my case, my better half). When I'm asked questions, I answer honestly and, should my answer include some negatives, I try not to dwell on them. You can cast things in a positive light and still be yourself.
You have to be able to get on with the people you work with. It's critical, especially in the games world. I'm currently in the middle of one of those periods where I'm crunching like mad and barely sleeping. I'm stressed out, my patience is thin, I'm on my 12th day of work without a single day off. If I didn't get along so well with the other members of my audio team, I'd be losing my mind by now. But we get along, so we pull together and come through.
So yeah, be yourself. You're cheating yourself (and your potential employer) if you're not, and it will make life hellish down the road.
"So yeah, that's my point: be yourself."
Still, sounds like you have a lot of fun in your work Kidko, and that's another important point imho.
Dunno if any of you guys ever heard of this Mihály (In order to pronounce it correctly, I'd have to remove your tongue) Csíkszentmihályi chap
The basic thesis is: work == play == "flow", which happens when your skills and challenges are most healthily balanced.
Or that you're most productive when you're enjoying yourself but pushing hard. Common sense really. And a nice counterpoint to this
And another good read (on the point that working with people too like you isn't really a good thing - so having workmates that challenge your world view can be a great blessing )
Nice ones, Andy! I've had Flow on my Amazon wishlist forever... probably time I buy it for myself. I like that guy's angle. Also, thanks for the link to AnxietyCulture... looks like a great website. The article on Phil Laut reads a lot like my advice to young friends, post high school or post college, who haven't found their calling.
From Thread at Sound Design List June 2008