22 Nov 2022
The gaming industry has become one of the most sought-after industries in the world. Rightly so. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s friendly. And it’s growing.
As with all things in high demand, it takes extra effort to stand out from the crowd. You could see getting into the industry, in the same light as game development. Lots of people are trying. Not everyone succeeds. But the good, will invariably rise. Some of them, all the way to the top.
So what should your portfolio include – and exclude – to get you noticed? It goes without saying you should include your best work, right. But it’s more than that. Here are the top 5 things to consider.
What do you want to do in your much-dreamt-of job? Have you got your sights set on being a writer? Tester Programmer? Designer? Animator? Something else? Your portfolio should show you doing that thing (your answer to the above question) and focus on what you’ve done to date. No one expects you to have it all worked out. But they are looking for your skills, talent, ambition and passion.
Exclude things you’ve done but don’t want to do. Putting together a portfolio based on a game
you coded, when you now want to be the game’s animator, is misleading and could get you offers for jobs you don’t want to do.
When you were starting out you probably copied what other people were doing. But now you’re advancing you should be able to display your own ideas and original approach. Showing your ability to create something from nothing is an important aspect any hiring manager is looking for.
Exclude copies of other people’s work. Besides the fact it doesn’t show your creativity, no-one stands out if everyone wears grey. Equally, your portfolio won’t stand out if it’s identical to work the hiring manager has already seen.
Hollywood makes trailers for all their movies. Why? Because showing someone the highlights creates the desire to want to watch the rest of the movie.
You are trying to get people interested in you, using your portfolio, when the hiring manager has hundreds, in some cases a thousand, to look at. It’s fair to say you get single-digit seconds to grab their attention. If Hollywood were making your portfolio, what would they say, do, add, in those vital first few seconds of someone’s attention, to get them to want more?
Exclude everything else. There are whole segments of films, which set outside the context of the entire story, are boring and uninspiring. The same is true of the work you’ve done to date. Leave the pieces which expand on what you’ve done, know and are doing, to talk about in the interview. I once knew a man who took a nyrex folder stuffed full of examples of his work to every interview. Not everyone wanted to leaf through that many pages of his work. But it showed he’d done a lot. Gave him loads of credibility. And saw him get offered almost every job he went for.
There’s a right time for everything!
It’s easier to apply for everything, than it is to sit waiting for the email to ping to say you’ve got that coveted interview. And to apply for everything you need to be more general in your portfolio, so you show off more skills.Right? Wrong?
Being too generic means you miss out on the roles you really want, because you don’t seem to be a great fit for them. The true definition of irony, right there If I’m looking for a designer and I see someone who’s a bit of a programmer, got some animation experience, done a bit of design… I immediately count that person out from my shortlist.
Exclude content in your portfolio which doesn’t match the role you’re going for. You might be open to any role that gets you in the door of that prized company. Or the gaming industry in general. But use different portfolios for different roles. Highlighting what the role is asking for, so the hiring manager can see the obvious match.
If you were going for a job as an author, it’s obvious you would write something to get the person’s attention. The same is true for you If you’re a programmer, code your portfolio in GDevelop, Autodesk, Stencyl…
If you’re a designer, design your portfolio in GameMaker Studio, Unity, Unreal Engine… This does two things. It shows your talent. And it shows your skills using the technology the job will require of you.
Two birds. One stone
Exclude (where possible) using formats that don’t relate to what you do and what you’re trying to show. Give people the experience of you in action, twice over.
And of course, this isn’t really a tip. More a reminder. Include your contact details. If you submit more than one thing, make sure your contact details are on each part, in case one gets sent on to someone without its counterparts.
Building a portfolio takes time. But so does working for a company.
If reading back through the five steps seems too much effort for the job you’re considering applying for. Don’t. Apply, that is. It’s a good indication you don’t really want the job. If you want fresh eyes on your portfolio. Or to go through any of our steps with someone.
Thanks to Games Jobs Direct you can get a free portfolio review at CareerJay by clicking this link.
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