We recently heard anecdotally that Mighty Bear has a reputation as a difficult place to land a job. This actually came as a surprise to us. We do have high standards, but the real issue is that most applicants rule themselves out with elementary mistakes at the very beginning of the application process. It’s much easier to get the job if you don’t sabotage yourself.
For context, some job postings at Mighty Bear receive up to ~1,000 applicants per open position. This is remarkable given how small we are in terms of size and profile; if you’re applying for a job at a larger, better-known studio, it’s likely the competition is even fiercer.
The good news is that even though the numbers look scary, there are some very basic things you can do to give yourself an edge on 90% of the competition and at the very least get yourself an interview and a shot at the job. Some of the Dos and Don’ts below may seem elementary but the vast, vast majority of applicants fail at these early hurdles. It really doesn’t take much to elevate yourself into the top 5–10% of applicants.
Applying for the Job — Dos
- Before you apply, make sure you understand what the role entails. We receive a lot of applications from people who love games but have no idea what the role they’re applying for looks like. Making games ≠ playing games all day.
- Spell check and proof-read your CV. Then ask a friend to proof-read it for you to make sure you didn’t miss anything (it’s not easy to proof-read your own work, we tend to miss things). If you can’t maintain a high level of care and craft when trying to sell yourself to a potential employer, it doesn’t augur well for your work.
- Tailor your CV to fit the company you’re applying for, this is especially relevant if you’re applying for jobs in companies which are very different. It usually only takes a couple of tweaks here and there.
- Studies have shown that people spend on average 8.8 seconds looking at a CV. If your best bits are on page 11, then it’s quite likely the person reading through your CV will never make it that far. You need to capture people’s attention immediately.
Pro tip: “Keep your CV down to an absolute maximum 2 pages. In fact, you should be able to get it down to 1! There are loads of great examples of 1 page CVs on the Internet, so take a look and get inspired.” — Simon, CEO
- Write a covering letter. A covering letter should be formatted in the same way as any other formal letter (again, there are loads of examples of covering letters on the Internet).
- Use the covering letter as a way of making yourself stand out. It could be by showing you’ve researched the company, played their games, have an interesting reason for applying, etc. Many of the few covering letters we do get are bland “copy and paste” efforts.
Pro tip: “I’ve seen many instances where a winning covering letter has secured an interview for someone who wouldn’t have otherwise made it past the CV screening stage. If your CV isn’t strong or lacks relevant experience, this is a great chance to show off your attitude!” — Simon, CEO
- Artists: If you send an application without a link to your portfolio, you will almost certainly not hear back. Hiring managers don’t have the time to try and track down your portfolio on the Internet.
Your portfolio should be somewhat current. We’ve received applications where the portfolio hadn’t been updated in 10+ years. This is probably not an indication of your best work! — Ben, Art Director
- Engineers: Include links to projects and examples of code.
- Don’t be afraid to follow-up if you haven’t heard back within a couple of weeks. Sometimes people miss things and they need a nudge.
Applying for the Job — Don’ts
Almost all of these are examples of people trying to skip the application process. My advice would be, don’t do this. It won’t help you get the job, and more often than not you’ll only hurt your chances.
- Don’t “shortcut” the application process by messaging staff on their personal social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.) this can come off as creepy, and 9 times out of 10 the person being reached won’t even be the hiring manager.
- The CEO is rarely the hiring manager. Messaging the company CEO directly on LinkedIn/email will not help you get the job, it’s a waste of your time and theirs.
“As the CEO of a small company I receive 100s of messages a day across Slack, email, and LinkedIn. It’s quite likely I (or another CEO) won’t even see your message. Due to the large number of sales emails we receive, mails from people I don’t know automatically get sent to a low priority bucket. If I do see a jobs related mail, I will just ask the candidate to send it through to email@example.com.” — Simon, CEO
- If it takes the CEO a few days to see your message and redirect you to the correct email address, then that’s a few days you lost to other candidates during the hiring window.
- Don’t show up at the studio unannounced, or hang around outside in the hope that you can “ambush” someone for a chat on their way in (we’ve had both of these happen). You will very rarely (and in our case never) get an interview for “doorstepping” a company. The chances are that no-one will have the time to meet with you and it will come off as intrusive.
- Likewise, showing up unannounced with gifts/food won’t help. A hiring decision can represent an investment worth $100,000s for a company, it’s not going to get swayed by a few donuts so save your money.
“Applying for multiple different roles (especially if they’re very different) is rarely a good idea. The company will have received your CV and will have an idea of your skills and roles you might be a good fit for. Unless you have something different prepared for each application, you should avoid doing this. Multiple applications spam the system without boosting your chances.” — Abel, Producer
The Interview — Dos
- Get there 5–10 minutes before the interview so that you’ll be on-time. Interviews take a chunk out of people’s time where they could be doing something else (like making games). Show that you respect people’s time and don’t keep them waiting for you. Your ability to show-up on-time also speaks to your level of organisation and how interested you are in the role.
Pro tip: “Bring a copy of your CV with you to the interview. It’s good practice and shows preparation!” — Fadzuli, CTO
- Research the company and its games before you show up. When you show up, you should be aware of what the company is about, maybe a little on the people interviewing you (if they have a professional profile) and the games the studio has made (or at the very least the type of games they make).
Pro tip: “Take the time to play the studio’s games before the interview and be able to talk about them constructively.” — Amanda, Growth Manager
- If you’re a Designer or Product Lead you should not only have played games made by the company you’re interviewing at, but also have a knowledge of their market.
- Design/Product roles require you to be aware of trends in gaming and the market the studio operates in. For example, if the studio makes mobile shooters, you should be able to talk about the top 2–3 shooters on mobile as well as that studio’s games.
“We make mobile games, so if you apply for a Design/Product role and in the interview say something like “I don’t play mobile games”, you probably won’t get the job.” — Jan, Producer
- We make games so we’re pretty relaxed when it comes to our dress code. No need to show up in your lucky blue suit (unless that’s how you like to dress!) However, an interview is a first impression, so this can go too far the other way.
“I once had someone show up to an interview in Crocs, shorts, and a singlet with food stains and holes in it. He got the job, but in another company he might not have!” — Simon, CEO
- The interview is a two-way process, it’s always a good sign when the interviewee has questions about the company and a genuine interest in learning more about the studio.
- We love to hear about what people are interested in, the films they like, which books they’ve read, the games they play, hobbies, etc. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself in the interview. We’re an open and diverse environment and we love learning about new people!
- Take the time to follow-up with a “thank you” email after an interview. It’s a good business practice to get into, and very few people do it so it will be noticed.
The Interview — Don’ts
- We’ve had people show up to interviews and try and “neg”: deliberately being negative and rude about the product and/or the company as a way of trying to show how smart they are, and assert dominance over the interviewer. It’s a cheap psychological tactic that interviewers will spot and it will backfire. Be yourself, don’t try and use tricks to manipulate people.
- It doesn’t look good when an applicant spends the interview badmouthing their previous boss or employer. It’s an especially bad sign when in the interviewees' estimation every previous boss was a jerk/idiot. An interviewer is not going to be keen on hiring someone who will be difficult to work with and badmouth them to someone else in the future.
I once conducted an interview where a candidate made a very inappropriate remark to try and build a rapport with me as “bro”. As a company, we have zero-tolerance for racism or misogyny. If you make comments like this during an interview (even as a “joke”), you will not get the job. The interviewer will probably end the interview and you will in all likelihood be blacklisted by the company. — Simon, CEO
If we were to distil the above into a series of pithy bullet points they would be:
- Avoid careless mistakes in the CV and covering letter
- Do your homework on the company when writing the covering letter
- Avoid copy/paste covering letters
- Don’t try and shortcut the process
- Show up on-time
- Do your homework before the interview
- Don’t badmouth your previous employers/co-workers
- Don’t be a douche
- Follow-up with a “thank you” mail after the interview
That’s it! That’s literally all there is to standing out from 90% of the competition. So what you waiting for!? If you’re still interested in coming to work with us, then drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org