[Olga Novikova offers a selection of job-hunting tips for games industry hopefuls, giving hints on how to tackle resumes, cover letters, and phone interviews.]
5 Secrets to Writing a Killer Cover Letter
Interested in switching careers and breaking into the gaming industry? Submitting a good cover letter can make a difference.
If you have worked in a different industry and are trying to break into gaming, submitting a cover letter along with a solid resume is your best bet. Without a cover letter your resume is going to look out of context and is likely to end up in the ‘not qualified' pile. You want to make sure that your cover letter fills in between the lines of your resume, tells a hiring manager a story, and alleviates any immediate concerns from looking at your resume. Here are five areas you should focus on to help you write your story.
1. Show your knowledge of the industry. Getting across that you are not a stranger to the gaming world will go a long way to establishing rapport with your prospective employer. Don't be shy about your ‘gaming' experience no matter how subtle- any connection matters. If you have been an avid gamer since childhood (and still have the original PlayStation in your garage), or have taken game design classes in college, make sure to talk about it. The gaming industry evolves at the speed of the wind, and the longer you have been following it, the more points you will score with the hiring manager. However, don't despair if you only recently discovered your passion for gaming. Talk about what sparked your interest and why it's important for you to be a part of it. Also, don't forget to mention if you are following any gaming blogs. Keeping up with the industry news shows dedication and passion; two important factors that will play in your favor.
2. Show that you understand the culture. Gaming companies, like many other companies in the tech space, pride themselves on having liberal work environments. Work schedules are flexible, teams often work in an open space layout, and people might get together to bounce creative ideas off each other at companywide brainstorm meetings. Many times, it's not uncommon to have rock band Tuesday, board game nights on Thursday, happy hour Fridays, and a ton of other activities all with the effort of building collaboration, inspiring innovation and nurturing creativity. However, having more freedom and flexibility also means less structure and more ambiguity. Therefore, it's important to show that you can thrive in this type of environment. So don't be shy about letting your personality come through in the cover letter. Make sure to stay professional and respectful, but if you get a smile out the hiring manager that certainly can't hurt your application!
3. Do the research on your dream company. Typically every company website has an ‘about us' section. Make sure to read up on the company history, its goals, its pain points and go-to market strategy. Then take your skills, knowledge and experience and show how you can bring value to the company. The goal is to position yourself as a valuable contributor and a necessary member of the company's future.
You also want to research any recent company news, new partnerships, office expansions, product releases etc. Putting in a sentence or two showing that you follow the company news will show your commitment to getting the job at your dream company.
4. and 5. Know what job you are applying for AND show that your skills are transferrable.These two points are closely related. First, give the job description a good read. Make sure that you have a good understanding of what the role entails and what kind of skills the candidate should have in order to be successful. Then connect your background and experience and show how your skills can be applied to the job you want. Focusing on your core skills outside of the environment in which you've learned them, and showing that they are transferrable will help validate your qualifications.
Following the above tips should tell the hiring manager a story about your dedication, knowledge and passion for the industry AND most importantly (if the points 4 and 5 are done right) also show that you are qualified for the job.