Saturday, February 04, 2012

Work Experience and Job Hunting advice

Hi everyone,

with regards to our transcription brief last week, Alan and Phil talked about finding work experience and gave a general outline on how to go about finding it.

Looking for work experience (or indeed a job) is a job in itself. Feels like a lifetime ago now but I used to work in recruitment and my role was to find and place candidates in their ideal jobs. Therefore, I thought I would put together a quick post which you may find useful.

To reiterate what Alan and Phil have already said, competition in the industry is tough. We all need to think about what kind of job we would like to break into and with what company. Remember they will be inundated with applications so you have to get it right. First impression is everything. With that in mind, anything you send to potential clients (showreel / CV etc) must be geared towards the company, look professional, have no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Ask colleagues and peers (someone like human spell checker Dan Rolph, lol) to proof read everything before you send it.

There is no point sending a games development company a showreel that shows off work ideally suited for film and TV and vice versa. It will only annoy potential employers and waste their time. So, it's a good idea to develop two or three showreels for specific roles. I.E, if you are applying for an animator role, have a showreel devoted to animation; modelling jobs a showreel full of model turnarounds etc. No doubt our course will also teach us to do a shot breakdown explaining everything on your showreel too.

There is a number of ways to look for companies, the internet will probably be your first point of call. Remember to also include recruitment companies that specialise in placing people in the industry in your search. If you send them all of your stuff, they will actively look for roles for you too.A good example is the visual effects school "Escape Studios". They have an established recruitment team and  a job board on their website so check them and others out too. Also look in CG related magazines and newspapers. Also market yourself on websites such a "linkedin". If you don't know what this is, it is basically like facebook for the working world. Set up an account (and add me) and anyone else you know who is on it. It's a great way to network!!!

Make a list of companies and their contact details and be prepared to send LOADS of emails and make LOADS of calls. It probably won't happen straight away, so you have to develop a thick skin and get used to being rejected. Don't let it get you down if you don't get any results straight away. Just keep going!!

When you call the companies, you won't be put straight through to anyone who can help. Their receptionists will be used to getting calls from hundreds of people asking for work experience or job opportunities. I guarantee you will be told to send your details to an automated email service or something similar. Absolutely send your stuff where they tell you too, but keep trying to actually speak to someone. Call back just to ask if  they have received it and if they have had a chance to look at your work.

Here's a tip for when you call:
Ask open NOT closed questions. I.E don't ask a question that can be answered with "yes" or "no". For example:

CLOSED QUESTION: " Can you put me through to someone who deals with work experience (or job) opportunities?"

The answer will be... "NO". (Maybe not as blunt as this but ultimately that's what they will say).

Instead ask an OPEN QUESTION: "Who is the best person to speak to with regards to work experience (or job) opportunities?"

Any information they give you can help. Be armed with a pen and paper for their response. They may tell who to speak to; take their name and contact details and ask when the best time to speak to them will be. Try and get some form of commitment out of the call (name, contact details etc). If they say you might get through to someone after working hours, agree that you will call back at a specified time and make sure you call back when you say you will. Be persistent, but polite. Don't annoy the receptionist. You may end up working with them one day!

Even better than a phone call is physically going to their offices. It's much harder for them to dismiss you face to face. I'm not saying just turn up, try and arrange an appointment. Maybe organise a day in London and visit a handful in one day and give out DVD's of your showreel. It's much better if your potential employer(s) have something physical of your work they can just load into a DVD player. Emails can be deleted in a click of a button and blogs etc just ignored. Obviously label everything with your contact details.

When you start contacting companies, RESEARCH the hell out of them first! You want to be thinking about why you want to work with them and what you can offer. At some point you will definitely be asked these type of questions. So, if you are applying to "Double Negative" for example and they ask why you want to work for them, say something like:

"Because I'm familiar with the work you have produced on films like "Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Iron Man2". I'm also really excited about your upcoming work on "Superman:Man of Steel" and "The Bourne Legacy". Compared with other companies, D:Neg is a relatively new production company that is rapidly expanding with a new office opened in Singapore in 2009. My skills in autodesk maya, Adobe Photoshop, after effects, prem pro (etc, etc) show that I have range of abilities that will suit your company. This can be viewed on my showreel."

It will really impress them if you can demonstrate that you know a lot about them. Research them any way you can!! Again give them a showreel that shows off relevant skills. Check the companies use maya for example. Some may only accept showreels, candidates with 3DS max or Cinema 4d experience only!

Sorry this post is a bit bland and text heavy. If anyone wants help developing a basic script for when you call companies, or help writing CV's etc, reply to this post and I'll put together a PDF or .PPP on sribd or something so people can download it.

Hope this helps and I hope I haven't bored all of you.



  1. Many thanks for all this invaluable advice, Paul - much appreciated :)

  2. Thanks Paul! This will come to good use :)