11 Tricks to Get Your Next VR Job
Steal them before they become standard practice!
If you’re part of the passionate pool of VR developers (Note: I use the term “VR developer” to describe 360 filmmakers/C# programmers/audio specialists/etc.) looking to pursue a career in VR/AR, I’m here to help you land the job of your dreams!
Last week, I published a post that outlined the 12 best ways to fund your VR projects and the result was an overwhelming number of requests to expand on specific points. One of the points that was most requested by you and other readers was related last week’s point #3: “How to Join a Team”.
I was inspired to create you a list of unorthodox ways to get the attention of your next employer:
1) Send a Gift + USB Flash Drive
Once you’ve prepared your portfolio, your most important task is to get that portfolio in front of the right person.
An uncommon way to do this is to send your future manager a gift basket which includes your portfolio in a labeled USB Flash Drive PLUS a printed link to your portfolio (just in case).
This is a good way to uplift your future manager’s mood before viewing your work and set yourself apart from the crowd. If nothing else, your manager will remember you a few years down the road if you reapply to the company or apply to a company that he/she moves to!
TIP: Don’t forget to add your cover letter/resume and/or your contact information to the basket!
Local VR meetups are quick ways to connect in-person with a lot VR enthusiasts even if you’re new to VR! Plus, you’ll keep abreast of new VR tech and company news. Job opportunities include:
- Similar to hackathons, many of the meetup members are at VR companies and can introduce you to hiring managers.
- Meetup organizers/event hosts are typically passively promoting their organization too. It doesn’t hurt to ask them if they know anyone that’s hiring based on your skillset.
- Typically, you can find and ask someone from the company that hosted the location of the meetup about open positions.
3) DM — Twitter’s Direct Message
The times are changing so it’s long overdue for you to leverage social media to get your next job! (In China, employers already reach out to and screen candidates through WeChat.)
This is especially a great way to reach out to the smaller VR companies as many VR co-founders are extremely active on Twitter. If you have a large following, it’s a fantastic way to show that you are able to make your messages heard or, if you have a good sense of humor, a unique way to show your personality and berevity!
If you have the video stitching/filming/directing expertise and recording hardware/software, you can indirectly get a job through YouTube. In addition to having content to show your potential employer, there’s a very slim chance that an employer will reach out directly to you. (Although, don’t bank this chance!)
Tutorials — If you aren’t camera shy and like educating others, you can gain exposure by releasing VR-related tutorials on YouTube. You can also achieve the same goal with tutorials on a website but I’ve found that face-to-face is one of the most powerful tools to get people interested in you. This is especially beneficial if you’re looking to join an education-related VR company.
In addition to growing your portfolio/resume, creating VR tutorials reinforces your VR knowledge and your students can connect you to positions within companies they join in the future.
360 Videos — If you’re an aspiring VR filmmaker or audio specialist, one of the best ways to showcase your work is to post and share your video on YouTube or Facebook 360. Then, take advantage of your video’s virality and reach out to potential employers with links to those videos or directly message people who comment/like your work.
5) Ask Friends
This is a conventional way of finding jobs but, like tweeting, you can leverage social media to work for you for once!
2nd-Degree Connection: Sometimes all it takes is a Facebook post to see if one of your friends is currently working at or knows of any openings at VR companies. I imagine that this is especially effective if you’re a recent graduate with friends who’s done co-op terms in VR companies before.
3rd-Degree Connection: Alternatively, don’t forget that your friends may introduce you to others that can help. I’ve been introduced to many amazing people that were previously 3rd degree connections this way. It never hurts to ask!
TIP: Remember, this is a 2-way communication, try to help the person you’re introduced to too!
6) Intercom / Site Chat
Speaking of 2-way communication, many people overlook site chats as a method of communicating to companies. Although chats are typically used for support, founders of smaller teams (like mine) care so much about our customers that we look at and answer some of the questions that are asked on chat.
TIP: This will work best when contacting smaller teams. If you need inspiration on which companies to reach out to, here’s a list of several hundred funded VR companies.
7) Join VR Communities
No man is an island and neither are you, so join some VR communities!
Whether it’s Slack teams, Facebook groups or indie forums, VR communities share news about the latest startup and often promote open positions at their companies. On top of that, if you know the name of the hiring manager, you can directly reach out to them through these platforms.
VR Slack Channels — If you’re new to the tech industry, you’ll be surprised to learn that there’s many VR Slack teams you can join to connect with other VR professionals. The application forms for some of the larger VR Slack teams that I’m a part of are:
VR Facebook Groups — Although I’ve seen very few VR Facebook groups promote job postings, I’ve seen quite a few opportunities posted in groups like Women In VR. Feel free to try joining multiple VR Facebook groups to see which jobs get posted!
TIP: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people directly. Most people are friendly and willing to help!
8) Coffee / Lunch
If have your heart set about working at a specific company, I want you to try this:
- Connect (e.g. on LinkedIn) with a few people that work at your future employer’s office. It’s best to connect with people in the same field as you i.e. people who will become your future coworkers or managers.
- Briefly explain why you’re so interested in learning more about the company and its culture.
- Schedule a lunch or coffee meeting with your future coworker to learn more about them and the company.
- If all goes well, ask your future coworker if they can offer tips on the interview process or if they can help pass your resume to their hiring manager.
TIP: It’s unbelievably important that you express your passion about their company/projects!
Once you have intermediate or expert knowledge on creating VR apps with at least 1 popular game engine (e.g. Unity or Unreal), VR hackathons are an amazing opportunities for you to find VR jobs:
- Seasoned VR developers participate in hackathons. Many of these developers currently work for, or are connected to, VR companies. Working well with them might unlock connections to hiring managers at those companies!
- Oftentimes, judges and organizers at hackathons are founders of VR companies and you can earn their attention if you can quickly hack together a decent project. And, you will also have a reason to follow up with them after the event.
- Companies like to promote openings within their organization during hackathons as they are always looking for teammates who are passionate about “work” even outside of office hours. (I don’t consider hackathons to be work, they’re addicting!)
- Many of the volunteers at these hackathons are employed at VR organizations. Get to know them and ask them for help or information!
TIP: You can add all of the projects you hack together into your VR portfolio!
10) Ask Your Instructor
Every good institutional professor is well connected in the space they’re in. If you’re in a formal education setting, ask your professor to introduce you to someone that will help you get a VR job.
Alternatively, if you’re learning about VR through online tutorials, reach out to the authors of those videos/websites to let them know that you’ve gone through their VR curriculum and are excited to use the skills you’ve learned to build the future. Then, ask the instructor if they can connect you with someone in the space that’s hiring.
TIP: This works even better if you’ve developed a relationship with your instructor over time and have consistently proven your passion for VR to him/her.
Even though email is the most conventional method, I added it for completion’s sake. Here’s some tips if you are applying for your jobs the normal way:
- Include a link to your portfolio and make it easy for potential employers to install and run your apps. (You can upload your mobile VR apps to ConstructVR and send employers the download link to your app.)
- To speed up your job hunt, I’ve curated a list of job opportunities on ConstructVR to help you find the open VR positions on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, SVVR, etc.
- If you want to be proactive and apply to companies that haven’t posted openings on job sites, try reaching out to some funded VR startups on this list or large VR companies like Oculus and HTC.
- Embed a YouTube video of your VR project(s) in your email application.
Bonus) Start a Company
If you want to go with this method, be sure to see my 12 tips to fund your own startup in last week’s post.
I’m a big fan of doing things differently, so I thought I’d share with you some of the irregular methods that I believe will help you get your dream job!
If you’re new to VR or don’t have transferrable skills from a related industry (e.g. 2D film or 3D games), don’t worry! You can focus on completing the pre-requisites required for some of these job hunting methods.
My goal is to grow VR into a mature industry and seed it with passionate VR developers so if you’ve tried something that’s not on this list, let me know so I can add it.
Also, if you need a place to host your VR apps, be sure to upload it to ConstructVR and share the download link with others!
Always be learning,
Chris Tan is the CEO and Co-founder of ConstructVR.io — a platform for privately deploying VR apps. He is a Y Combinator Alumni that spends most of his time in Vancouver, BC and San Francisco, CA meeting other VR enthusiasts.