You’ve been sending your resume to dozens of game companies, getting a few phone interviews, or maybe even an on-site interview with a company you’re super excited about. Things are going great! Until you get that dreaded email:
“Thank you for your interest in our company. Unfortunately, you’re not good enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Goodbye, and don’t come back.”
Okay, actual rejection letters are more… tactful. Maybe something like “Thanks for your interest but we’ve decided to pursue other candidates.” But it can still feel terrible — you’ve been rejected. Maybe rejected again! You’re bummed out, frustrated, bordering on hopeless. Will I ever get a job? What if nobody will hire me? How will I pay off this mountain of student debt? What can I do?
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do. Start by taking a deep breath, and then…
1. Learn from it
Even when you’re turned down, you can spin the experience into a learning opportunity. What did you learn about the company? About the industry? What new networking connections did you make? What have you discovered about your skills, compared to what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for?
Don’t think of it as rejection, think of it as practice. Leverage every bit of information to hone your resume and interviewing skills, get insight into what employers want, and meet new people in the industry. People that can help you. But only if you pay attention, be honest with yourself and actively learn from the experience.
2. Don’t slow down
It’s easy to fall headlong into a negative frame of mind, and stall out on your job search. So learn from it, but don’t dwell on it. Leave those rejection letters in your rear-view mirror. They’re just little speed bumps on the road to the ultimate goal. Remember to focus all of your energy on the one thing you can affect: Your future.
Do whatever it takes to keep your spirits high and your job search moving forward. Here are some ideas:
- Find new companies to get excited about. Don’t just target the big, famous studios — everybody wants to work at Blizzard, Valve, and Nintendo, but there are hundreds of other game companies that are also making great games. And most of them are excellent places to work.
- Meet some new people to generate new connections and new job leads. Have coffee with a friend of a friend in the game industry and ask them for advice. Attend a local game developer meet-up or industry convention. Hang out at game developer message boards. The more people you meet, the more opportunities will start to appear.
- Work on a personal project. It will make you happy, and will look good on your resume or your portfolio.
3. Realize that it’s totally normal
Rejection isn’t something that only happens to you — it happens to me, too. (I’ll never forget the time I was rejected by Honey Bee Hams. I would have made such amazing sandwiches!) It happens to everybody, because it’s a normal part of every job search.
Searching for jobs is all about finding the right match-up — each company is looking for a different mix of skills, talents and personality, so you’re not going to be the right fit every time. In fact, you might not be a fit for most of the jobs you apply for. And that’s totally normal, so don’t let it get you down. The faster you get used to hearing “Thanks but no thanks,” the faster you can turn your attention to other opportunities that might be a better fit.
4. Never, ever give up
A job search is a marathon, not a sprint. For many people on the job hunt, it can take between 3 to 6 months to get hired, so it’s about endurance, perseverance, and succeeding in the long run even if you get rejected this week. Work on your hunt methodically and relentlessly, and you’ll have the best chance of snagging a great opportunity right when it becomes available.
I promise you, there’s an awesome job out there that’s a perfect fit for your skills, talents, and personality. A job that you’ll love — a job that will be perfect for you, and will lead you into a fulfilling career in the game industry. Now quit moping around, get out there and find it!
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