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How can I start my career as a video game industry recruiter?

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In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Ashley, who asks “My name is Ashely and I am a recruiter that is new to the Video Game recruiting world. I wanted to combine what I do with one of my favorite hobbies which is playing video games. I discovered your blog and see that you are an expert in the field. Do you have any advice for me as a recruiter or can you guide me to any blogs that can help me crack into this industry?”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why recruiting is important to the game industry
  • Three challenges to overcome to break into game industry recruiting
  • A strategy for accelerating your transition into game recruiting

If you have a question you'd like to get answered on the podcast, leave a comment below or ask me anything here.

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Hello, and welcome to the Game Industry Career Guide Podcast. This is episode number 44. I’m Jason W. Bay from gameindustrycareerguide.com, and this is the podcast where I answer your questions about getting a job and growing your career making video games.

Video game recruiters

Today’s question is from Ashley, who sent me an email to ask this, “My name is Ashley, and I am recruiter that is new to the video game recruiting world. I wanted to combine what I do with one of my favorite hobbies, which is playing video games. I discovered your blog and see that you are an expert in the field. Do you have any advice for me as a recruiter, or can you guide me to any blogs that can help me crack into this industry?”

When I found this question in my email box, I was really excited to talk about it with you. Because for most people who read my blog or listen to the podcast, they already make video games for a living, or they’re trying to get a job working on a game team. But not everybody in the game industry is on a game team. Of course, any company needs to have great game development teams in order to succeed. But they also need a support network of people who are not in game dev jobs: jobs like marketing, finance, legal, human resources, and the job that Ashley is talking about, the job of talent recruiting.

They’re here to help

The job of a recruiter is often overlooked, and I think it’s fairly underappreciated. I know that for many game developers, when we think of recruiters, we think of those people who spam us out of the blue with annoying emails and LinkedIn messages that seem obviously autogenerated and clearly aren’t going to be able to help us with our careers. And that’s too bad, because the right recruiter can actually be a huge boost to a game developer’s career and can dramatically affect a game studio by helping the hiring managers find exactly the right talent to launch the game team and the studio towards a big success.

So the job of a game a recruiter is important. And if you’re someone who might like to help great companies and great developers find each other to make awesome new games, then recruiting might be an interesting career path for you to explore. So how can you get started as a gaming industry recruiter?

Getting started as a game recruiter

Well, there are two areas that you’ll need to learn about. The first is how to be a recruiter in general, and the other is how to become a game industry recruiter specifically. From Ashley’s question, it sounds like she’s already done some recruiting. So, today, I’ll focus on how to pivot your career from being a recruiter to being a video game recruiter.

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There are three challenges that I think you’ll need to overcome in order to focus your recruiting career onto the game industry.

Learning the biz

The first is that the video game industry is an incredibly complicated business, and you need to learn all about it before you can be an effective recruiter. To start recruiting for game teams, you’ll need to build an understanding of all the different jobs on the game team. What does each of those jobs do? How does it fit into the game team as a whole? And what makes a person in that job successful? Each job has its own tools, skills, vocabulary, and you’ll need to learn about all of it. It’s a huge amount of information to drink in, and it might take you a long time, and I’m talking months, not weeks.

One way to start learning about the different game jobs is to check out my Quest for Your Career series of articles. Each article covers a specific game job, and I’ve got about thirtyish articles in the series right now. But I’m always adding more, so check them out. There’s a shortcut to it. You can go to gameindustrycareerguide.com/careers.

Building your network

The second challenge that you’ll need to take on to become a video game recruiter is to build your network of video game developers. Now, if you already have experience with talent recruiting, then you already know that it’s all about relationships. And you need to build relationships with the best candidates before they start looking for their next job, so that they’ll be open to you or, better yet, so that they’ll actually reach out to you when it’s time for them to move to a new company.

You need to get to know each of them beyond their LinkedIn profile, because fitting the right candidate to the right job is about more than just that list of skills on their resume. It’s about understanding them as a person: their temperament, their preferences, how they like to work on a team, what kind of manager they prefer, and more. None of those things are on their CV. The only way to find out is to talk with them directly on the phone or in person over coffee probably multiple times over a period of time. So it’s going to take some energy, and it can take months or years to pay off. Recruiting in the game industry is a long game. It’s not a sprint.

Making the right friends

The third challenge that you want to focus on is building your network of game company hiring managers and human resource professionals. Since the game companies themselves are actually the ones that will hire you and pay you, it’s mission critical to find the people who run those talent acquisition groups inside the game companies in your region and then help them get to know you and trust you, so that they’ll hire you and pay you when you’re successful.

Fortunately, HR people are typically pretty open, friendly, and collaborative just by nature. So there are lots of ways to start getting to know them. You can search online for any meetups or other groups of game industry HR or recruiters in your area, and you can start attending those. Or if there aren’t any, well, why not start one yourself? You could be person number one in what could eventually become one of the big HR recruiting meetups in your area.

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You could also join the game industry related groups on LinkedIn to meet game industry people and get advice and help each other out that way. You should also just reach out to them directly. Just send him an email or give him a phone call and invite the HR manager and the hiring managers out for coffee individually to start the business relationship that way and see where it goes. So those are three challenges that you could start working through now to focus your recruiting career into the game industry.

Heart and hustle

You’ve probably noticed that it’s not something you can do overnight. Learning all about the technical jobs and building hundreds of new relationships, it takes a lot of time. But there’s at least one strategy that you could use to accelerate that process a little bit, and that is to get a job as a sourcing recruiter at a game company or at a recruiting firm that works with game companies. By working at a game company, you’ll get direct interaction with the people who make games and their managers, which will accelerate your understanding of the job and the industry as a whole.

You’ll also naturally get to know the employees of the company, which will seed the beginnings of your professional network of game developers. I think it will also accelerate your understanding of the technical aspects of game jobs, not only because you’ll be working around the actual programmers, and designers, and artists, and others, but also because you’ll have frequent conversations with the hiring managers who can guide you and give you feedback on your candidates as you work to fill their technical job openings.

The road less traveled

Okay, there’s some detailed guidance on how to become a recruiter in the video game industry: learn about the technical aspects and vocabulary of each job; build your network of game developers; and build your network of hiring managers and HR pros. Start now and work diligently, because it’s definitely a long game. Accelerate your learning by working for a game company or a recruiting firm that’s already working in the game industry.

Thanks to Ashley for that question, and thank you for hanging out to talk about this interesting game industry career that’s off the beat and path of game development. If you enjoyed the podcast, then please help me spread the word by sharing it with friends. Also, just a quick note, summer is coming up fast, and I know there’s a lot of you who want to get jobs as game testers over the summer. If you do, pick up a copy of my book “Land a Job as a Video Game Tester.” It teaches you everything you need to know to get a job testing games. Find it on Amazon.com. It’s available in print or for any e-book reader that you might have.

For more information and inspiration on getting a job and growing your career making video games, visit me at gameindustrycareerguide.com. I’m Jason W. Bay, and I will see you again next week right here on the Game Industry Career Guide Podcast.

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Making games for a living is an incredibly rewarding career, but it’s hard to break in unless you have insider knowledge. This book levels the playing field.

READ: Start Your Video Game Career

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