Switching from an outside industry into video games: our advice
Even if you have plenty of work experience, taking that first step into your gaming career is usually the hardest. Knowing what skills and achievements are relevant from your past roles, and how to present them, can be tricky when entering a new professional space. That's why we've created this article with our advice on the subject. If you're looking to get into gaming from another industry, this is the place to start.
First things first, where can you actually find opportunities in gaming? Hitmarker is the home of gaming jobs, and has over 10,000 live listings from all over the world! If you're searching for a new job, or want to see what's out there, Hitmarker is the place to be! You can check out our jobs feed here.
The application process in the games industry is not too different to other sectors. Professionalism, a great resume, and lots of hard work are as important here as they are elsewhere. This doesn't mean there aren't differences, of course, but there might be fewer than you’d think. Treat the process the same as you would have for your previous job applications, while also considering the following areas.
Researching the company
If you’ve applied for plenty of jobs in the past you’ll already know how important it is to research a company. The exact same is true in gaming, but where you find the best information can be different.
The standard avenues — news searches and company websites — are still must-visits. However, most companies in the video game space have a lot more information on social media than the average company. Spending some time seeing how they conduct themselves, and what other people are saying about them, on platforms like Twitter and Reddit can reveal some useful information to use in your application.
Make sure to revisit this if you’re invited to interview, as there may be new information that has become public between your initial research period and the interview.
Tone of your application
In the world of gaming, being too formal in an application can set you apart for the wrong reasons. You need to remain professional and polite; this is a job application after all, but ditching the “To whom it may concern” in your cover letter is a must.
Your research will help to inform you on company culture, so you can attempt to match the formality, but in general you’re safe to open with something like “Hello” or “Hi there”. As long as you’re communicating in a fashion befitting a job application, you don’t have to worry about using the most formal language that you might have to in other industries.
Talking about interests
The general rule to follow in any application, in the video game space or otherwise, is that the majority of what you speak about should be about why you’re a capable candidate to fill the vacancy. However, unlike other industries, you should be mentioning why you want to work in gaming specifically.
Again, this shouldn’t be more than a short paragraph in your cover letter and a brief mention in your professional summary, but this is an easy way to build rapport and show that you fit in with the company. Giving the company an idea of why you want to change sectors will also be beneficial to helping them get to know you better, and can help close any gaps they perceive between you and endemic candidates.
If you leave this out, then you risk the company thinking you’ve applied to their job as part of a sea of applications. By being direct about your intention to move industry, you eliminate the chance of this happening.
Adjusting for interview differences
Following on from our discussion of research, understanding how an interview might be different from a more formal and corporate one can help you avoid going in with the wrong frame of mind.
You need to be professional and courteous, but this doesn’t always mean being overly formal. Casual work environments exist in every industry, but it’s much more the norm rather than the exception in the video game scene. Be ready to adapt your expectations when you arrive at the interview and you’ll be set up for success.
Now that we’ve spoken about how the application process might look a little different from other industries, let’s take a look at how you can use your experience and skills in a gaming setting.
We often hear that people don’t think their experience outside of gaming holds much value, and that simply isn’t true. Companies in the video game industry, much like anywhere else, are looking for capable hires who can come into their organization and do the job they’re hired to do.
If you’re applying for a role that has an exact counterpart in your current industry, such as finance, marketing, sales, or another path, then businesses will value your experience in these areas — you shouldn’t omit your past sales experience just because it wasn’t in gaming.
This is why it’s important to thoroughly understand the requirements of any job you apply to. Note that the vast majority, if not all, of the skills and experience companies look for are things you can develop outside of gaming. If there’s something a gaming company is asking for that you have, then why wouldn’t you highlight it?
On the flip side, this doesn’t mean that all of your past experience is relevant in the games industry, but that’s the same with any new job application. You want to prioritize your current or most recent job, which you should always include on your resume, and anything that best matches what the job description is asking for. If you’ve had similar roles in the past this should be straight forward, but if you’re looking at a unique gaming position then it can get more tricky.
If you want to land a job in a gaming-specific field, like game development or level design, then you won’t be able to lean on having experience in the exact role elsewhere. This doesn’t make breaking into these areas impossible, as there is likely to be skill crossover between what you do and what you want to do.
Again, reading the requirements will be your first step here. Highlight anything they ask for that you have shown in previous jobs, the more recent and provable the better, and make sure these points are shown in your application.
Game development jobs often have a large emphasis on C++, whilst level designers will need experience in a game engine. Well, C++ certainly isn’t unique to the games industry, and you can download most major game engines for free to get a feel for how they work. See what we mean about the skills still being possible to build?
Now that we’ve covered the broad approach of transitioning industries into video games, let’s talk application materials. We could write a whole article on how to make your application stand out in the gaming industry — so we did! Check out our amazing resume guide and cover letter crash course to make your next video game application the best it can be.
Something to go away and consider before making your next application is whether or not a specific role is right for you. Gaming is a fun, dynamic industry, but it isn’t all about playing video games or watching tournaments.
If you’re a seasoned professional in any area you’ll know what to expect from a job in gaming, because it will likely be very similar to what you do now. If you don’t enjoy your current job in sales, getting a job in video game sales is unlikely to be a huge change of pace. The same goes for brand new opportunities you can only find in gaming; game design is an extraordinary job, but it’s still a job. If you’re looking at gaming as an easy alternative to a job in a different industry, you’re likely to be disappointed.
We don’t like finishing on a negative, so we want to remind you that if you have experience in another industry then you can find an opportunity working with games. Gaming is a growing industry, and increasingly top companies are searching for talent outside of the industry.
If you understand how the application process differs, and how to best present yourself to a hiring company, then you’ll be in a strong position to break into the scene.
We’re excited to see you find your dream gaming job, and are here to help in any way we can. If you’re looking to start right now, remember to have a look at our feed of live jobs to find your next opportunity.