How I Got A Job In The Video Games Industry

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Proverb – “It’s not what you know. Or who you know. But who knows you”

I finally achieved a life goal of mine back in September, I got a job in the video games industry. This has been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid but it was only in the summer of 2016 where I thought about taking steps to make it a reality.

I’m writing this article as the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since I joined Electronic Arts 2 months ago are, “how did you get a job at EA?” and “how do I get a job in the video games industry?” The first question is much easier to answer and the purpose of this post is to explain what I did to get the position of Senior Recruiter at EA. The second question isn’t as straightforward. I will provide some tips from my experience so far as well as advice from others in the industry, but my plan is to write a more in-depth post on the subject in the future.

MOTIVE

I remember a conversation with one of my best friends back in August 2016 where I said, “I’m going to try and get into the video games industry”. And not because I wasn’t enjoying working at Hudl, in fact I loved working there. I enjoyed my role, had great peers, respected the leadership, had awesome office facilities etc. But the product, and sports technology industry, doesn’t excite me. My true passion lies in video games. I can play, talk, research and analyse games all day. And that’s a major reason why I pursued a career in recruiting for software companies in the first place, I hoped it would lead to working in the video games industry one day.

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Star Wars Battlefront II comes out next week!

RESEARCH

So, I had the motivation, but what did I do next? I started doing my research and keeping my notes in a fairly basic Google Sheet. This is what I did step by step:

  • Confirm that my skills are needed in the video games industry. Yes, even small games companies need a recruitment function. Awesome.
  • Decide what companies I would like to work for. I started by listing out the biggest and best in the industry. I also looked up who made my favourite games and what companies are close by (step 3).
  • Look at what companies are close to me and I could commute to. If none are near you, then you will have to consider relocating. Luckily I lived in London and the South East UK is one of the biggest game hubs on the planet.
  • Out of those companies, find out who have their recruitment functions in those offices. For example, Nintendo have employees in the UK but their Talent Acquisition Team is based in Seattle.
  • Check job sites to see who’s hiring. Orca is the best site to check, it’s an aggregator that groups all advertised positions in the video games industry in one place. You can also set-up alerts so you never miss an opportunity. This is how I found out about games studios I hadn’t heard of before.

My shortlist then looked like this: Electronic Arts, Ubisoft (Reflections), Microsoft, Riot Games, Activision, Twitch, SEGA, Bossa Studios and NaturalMotion. Then the last stage of research:

  • Find out who you need to speak to. This isn’t always easy and often means you have to network.

NETWORK

As networking is embedded in my role as a Recruiter, I found this next bit enjoyable and easy. But I take it for granted that networking isn’t natural for many. And that’s understandable, unless you’ve practiced introducing yourself to strangers many times it can be a daunting task. That said, I only I introduced myself to a stranger in-person once (that was David Barker from Riot Games at a MeetUp), all the rest I used either LinkedIn or email (which is less scary).

Luckily it’s easy to find people on LinkedIn (I’m not going into how to do that here) and send them an InMail or request to connect with a note. But before making an introduction, check their careers page to see if there is a suitable opportunity for you. It will make your introduction more meaningful as it shows you’ve done your research and you can tailor your message i.e. “I’ve noticed there are no Recruiter vacancies” or “I’m really interested in the [x] role I saw on your careers page”. Here’s an example of the intro I sent to Mike Christie at Bossa Studios:

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I definitely could improve that message looking back, but it was enough to get a conversation started. The message was clearly tailored for the role, company and Mike personally.

ELECTRONIC ARTS

I first spoke to my now manager at Electronic Arts in October 2016. They weren’t advertising but I made Dan aware of who I am, why I’m interested in joining the team and formed a connection so that I could check back with him every few months. 10 months after that introduction a position opened up, I dived straight into the interview process and got the job.

It took 13 months from saying “I’m going to get into video games industry” to starting at EA. I count myself truly lucky, EA was at the top of my list of companies to work for. I started with the aim of getting into the industry and ended up at a dream company.

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The EA Vancouver site, home to EA Sports

TIPS ON GETTING INTO THE VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY

Sorry this last section is so short, as promised above, I will make this into a full article in the future. Ultimately you need to ask, does a video games company need my skills? Now that might be in the studios developing games with disciplines like engineering, art, design, production, audio, narrative, QA etc. Or in the many business functions like marketing, HR, finance, recruiting, sales etc.

If you don’t have the skills then you need to find a way to acquire them, and that might take many years requiring you to get a degree, an internship, work experience, complete side projects, a stunning portfolio or participate in online courses.

I recommend watching some of these videos on YouTube, along with these articles from IGN, The Guardian and The Games Industry Career Guide.

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I hope you found this post helpful. And if you’re looking for a career at Electronic Arts I might just be able to help. My email is jburridge@contractor.ea.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

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10 Eyebrow-Raising Things Hiring Managers Say (and How to Respond)

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Pleased to say that I worked with the great people at LinkedIn on another post for the LinkedIn Talent Blog.

I’ve worked with some rather interesting hiring managers in the past, this article provides my top ten quotes and how to respond (with lots of GIF’s of course). Enjoy!

https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/recruiting-humor-and-fun/2017/10-eyebrow-raising-things-hiring-managers-say-and-how-to-respond

Goodbye Hudl. Hello Electronic Arts.

“When one door closes, another one opens”

Today is my last day at Hudl and I am full of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m leaving behind some of the best people I’ve ever worked with and the best company I’ve ever worked for. And on the other I’m so incredibly excited about joining EA. Being a part of the video games industry has always been a dream of mine, and I will be joining the biggest and best in the business!

WHY WAS HUDL SO AMAZING?

I will always look back at my time at Hudl as a major milestone in my career and such a unique opportunity. When I started Hudl in May 2015, there were 221 employees across the USA and UK. Hudl had recently acquired Replay Analysis in London, Ubersense in Boston and only a few weeks after I started Sportstec was acquired. Hudl is now over 1,000 employees across 14 countries and what a learning curve that has been for me as a Recruiter.

That learning curve included adapting from a recruitment agency to an internal talent function, building teams in departments I’d never worked with before (marketing, business development, support, sales, finance, advertising to name a few) and in countries I had never recruited in before (e.g. USA, Canada, Brazil, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Australia).

Hudl has a strong culture and a high bar when it comes to hiring which means I’ve rarely come across someone where I’ve thought, “why did we hire them?” The London and UK team are a great bunch of people and so much success still lies ahead. They have quite a few open roles right now which I have listed at the bottom of this blog post.

Thanks Hudl, my time here was truly awesome.

NEXT STOP, ELECTRONIC ARTS!

I will be starting at EA’s Guildford office on Monday September 11th and I’m so freaking excited! If you know me well then you’ll know how passionate I am about video games and the industry, I can’t wait to get started.

Initially, I will be helping to build 3 studios across the UK and Sweden: DICECriterionand Ghost. These studios have created some incredible games and IP’s over the years, including Star Wars Battlefront, Battlefield, Need For Speed, Burnout and Mirror’s Edge. DICE also created the Frostbite game engine which powers other games such as FIFA, Mass Effect and Plants vs Zombies. I’ll also be on the hunt for a Senior Director for FIFA Global Brand Management for EA’s Vancouver office.

There’s a ton of new challenges ahead. Building teams in a new industry, new roles, new locations and all in the biggest company I’ve ever been a part of.

Thanks EA, I can’t wait to be a part of it all.

Hudl London Jobs

Interviewing? Make Sure It’s At 10.30am On Tuesday

Timing is crucial for every interview and luckily it’s typically a part of the interview process you can control. According to multiple sources (cited below), Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. Research can even pinpoint it to 10.30am on Tuesday.

The line of thought here is that when your interviewer is at their best they are more receptive to your ideas and answers. Tip for interviews – if you feel that you’re perhaps not in the best mood, always try and switch to a positive mindset before an interview by either having a coffee break, go for a walk or play a quick game of ping pong (if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby). You always want to give candidate’s a fair chance.

But this is the general rule and not advice written in stone. When thinking about booking your interview, also consider:

  • Avoid early mornings and end of day. You and your interviewer will (most likely) not be on top form.
  • Avoid lunch interviews when possible. Hungry interviewers are bad interviewers.
  • Try and find out when works best for your interviewer so you can catch them at their best.

Sources

  1. https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/5-tips-times-schedule-interview/
  2. http://www.businesspundit.com/10-interview-tips-you-really-need-to-know/
  3. https://social.hays.com/2016/02/17/best-time-to-have-a-job-interview/

Also posted to (ah go on, give it a click)

Career Advice? Befriend a Recruiter

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Reid Hoffman – “Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that’s really powerful”

Recently I surprised a friend with a piece of career advice, “you should try and strengthen your recruiter network”. They said they had never heard that before. Recruiters are just those annoying people, right? Many don’t realise the influence a recruiter has, whether agency or internal, when it comes to a hiring process. If I believe I’ve discovered someone great I will make sure my team and hiring manager are aware of them immediately. I will present their profile and state why I think they should be hired. Recruiters are the gatekeepers of talent for businesses, if you can get them on your side you stand a better chance of getting that dream job.

Here are a few reasons to network with the right recruiters, and not just because I want more friends (cue the violins)…

FOUND A DREAM COMPANY? FIND THE RIGHT RECRUITER

Many people have a few companies in their mind that they think, “it would be amazing to work there”. If you’re one of those people, what are you doing about it? Sure, keep an eye on their jobs page but it’s better to be proactive. If the company is small there may only be one person in HR or recruiting that you need to make an introduction to, or if it’s a large company there may be a team of people dedicated to recruiting for all parts of the business. For example, Hudl is a medium sized business and we have 6 people on our Talent Team, I typically focus on hiring for Europe and engineering.

WHY A RECRUITER AND NOT A HIRING MANAGER?

Building a relationship with a hiring manager is a smart way to help your next career move, but there are advantages to befriending a recruiter. Very often a hiring manager is only aware of their hiring needs or of the teams they work closely with (especially in large companies). Also, hiring managers aren’t hiring all the time. You introduce yourself, they tell you they’re not hiring and you assume the company isn’t hiring. However, a recruiter can give you an holistic view of the company’s hiring needs and are often the first to know when hiring requirements are on the horizon.

NETWORK WITH AGENCY RECRUITERS IN YOUR INDUSTRY

Find 1 or 2 great recruiters in your industry, or for the industry you want to move into, to help keep an ear to the ground for opportunities. The best agency recruiters are constantly gathering information on their specialist area. Use agency recruiters for industry updates and allow them to get to know you so they send you relevant updates. If an agency recruiter believes you’re worth their time, they will introduce you first when it comes to job opportunities hence increasing your chances for a great career move.

I hope you found this article useful, if you ever want to get in touch my email is joe.burridge@hudl.com. I also published this article to www.joeburridge.com

A Short Story On Being In The Present

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2017 is set to be the best year of my life. This month marks 2 years at Hudl for me, I was employee 221 and now we’re 600+ employees across 15 countries. I also got married in March (a few snaps here) and am currently buying my first house. Dreams are literally coming true.

Humblebrags aside, what’s the point of this post? A few weeks ago I said something like this to my wife (Bonnie), “I can’t wait to get a house, we can fix it up over time and move into a better one! Let’s start thinking about how we can buy 2!! And I know Hudl is 600 employees now, but imagine when it’s over 1,000!!! How many kids do you think we’ll have in the future?!?!?!”. Bonnie said, “Woah! Slow down. Let’s just stop for a moment and be grateful for the present”.

She’s right, I needed a reminder to think about where we are now and celebrate what we’ve achieved. If someone told me 2 years ago that 2 years from now you will have achieved [insert list of stuff], I’d be very happy to hear it. It’s so easy to keep thinking ahead. So, I started reading articles about being in the present and discovered the short story below written by Robin Sharma (from his book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari). This story summarises the importance of valuing the present moment and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Peter and the Golden Thread

Peter was a young boy who could never live in the moment. When he was in school, he dreamed of being outside playing. When he was outside playing, he dreamed of his summer vacation. Peter constantly daydreamed, never taking the time to savour the special moments that filled his days.

One morning, Peter was out walking in a forest near his home. Feeling tired, he decided to rest on a patch of grass and eventually dozed off. After only a few minutes of deep sleep, he heard someone calling his name. “Peter! Peter!” came the shrill voice from above. As he slowly opened his eyes, he was startled to see a striking woman standing above him.  She must have been over a hundred years old and her snow-white hair dangled well below her shoulders like a matted blanket of wool.

In this woman’s wrinkled hand was a magical little ball with a hole in the centre and out of the hole dangled a long, golden thread. “Peter,” she said, “this is the thread of your life.  If you pull the thread just a bit, an hour will pass in seconds.  If you pull harder, whole days will pass in minutes.  And if you pull with all your might, months – even years – will pass by in days.” Peter was very excited by this new discovery.

“I’d like to have it if I may?” he asked. The elderly woman quickly reached down and gave the ball with the magic thread to the young boy.

The next day, Peter was sitting in the classroom feeling restless and bored. Suddenly, he remembered his new toy.  As he pulled a little bit of the golden thread, he quickly found himself playing in his garden. Realising the power of the magic thread, Peter soon grew tired of being a schoolboy and longed to be a teenager, with all the excitement that phase of life would bring. So again he held the ball and pulled hard on the golden thread.

Suddenly, he was a teenager with a very pretty girlfriend named Elise. But Peter still wasn’t content. He had never learned to enjoy the moment and to explore the simple wonders of every stage of his life. Instead, he dreamed of being an adult, so again he pulled hard on the thread and many years flew by in an instant. Now he found that he was transformed into a middle-aged adult.  Elise was now his wife and Peter was surrounded by a houseful of kids.

But Peter noticed something else. His once jet-black hair had started to turn grey and his once youthful mother, whom he loved so dearly had grown old and frail. Yet Peter still could not live in the moment. He had never learned to live in the now, so once again, he pulled on the magic thread and waited for the changes to appear.

Peter now found that he was a ninety-year-old man. His thick dark hair had turned white as snow and his beautiful young wife, Elise, had also grown old and had passed away a few years earlier. His wonderful children had grown up and left home to lead lives of their own. For the first time in his entire life, Peter realised that he had not taken the time to embrace the wonders of living. He had never gone fishing with his kids or taken a moonlight stroll with Elise. He had never planted a garden or read those wonderful books his mother had loved to read. Instead, he had hurried through life, never resting to see all that was good along the way.

Peter became very sad at this discovery.  He decided to go out to the forest where he used to walk as a boy to clear his head and warm his spirit. As he entered the forest, he noticed that the little saplings of his childhood had grown into mighty oaks. The forest itself had matured into a paradise of nature. He laid down on a small patch of grass and fell into a deep slumber.

After only a minute, he heard someone calling out to him. “Peter! Peter!” cried the voice. He looked up in astonishment to see that it was none other than the old woman who had given him the ball with the magic golden thread many years earlier. “How have you enjoyed my special gift?” she asked.

“At first it was fun, but now I hate it.” he responded bluntly, “My whole life has passed before my eyes without giving me the chance to enjoy it. Sure, there would have been sad times as well as great times, but I haven’t had the chance to experience either. I feel empty inside. I have missed the gift of living.”

“You are very ungrateful,” said the old woman. “Still, I will give you one last wish.”

“I’d like to go back to being a schoolboy and live my life over again,” Peter quickly responded. He then returned to his deep sleep.

Again, he heard someone calling his name and opened his eyes. “Who could it be this time?” he wondered. When he opened his eyes, he was absolutely delighted to see his mother standing over his bedside. She looked young, healthy and radiant.  Peter realised that the strange woman from the forest had indeed granted his wish and he had returned to his former life.

“Hurry up, Peter.  You sleep too much.  Your dreams will make you late for school if you don’t get up right this minute,” his mother admonished. Needless to say, Peter dashed out of bed and began to live the way he had hoped. He went on to live a full life, one rich with many delights, joys and triumphs, but it all started when he stopped sacrificing the present for the future and began to live in the moment.

14 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career in Recruitment

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I have a new post on the LinkedIn Talent Blog! It’s a 3 minute read packed with GIF’s (and lots of useful information), just let me know what you think.

And while you’re on the article if you could click the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons I’d appreciate it as it helps me out. Thanks!

https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/recruiting-humor-and-fun/2017/14-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-started-my-career-in-recruitment

The Worst Introduction From A Recruiter

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Salvador Dali - “Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it”

I’m a Recruiter and I’ve made a ton of mistakes throughout my career. One thing I learnt right at the start of my career is that most people dislike Recruiters. In fact, most people really think negatively of Recruiters and will quite happily expose Recruiters when they have made errors of judgement (thankfully this person below didn’t do that).

Another point I’ve learned is that mistakes in life and work can be tolerated, but only if you learn from them quickly and use that newfound knowledge to your advantage.

I was recently asked, “what was the biggest mistake you’ve made while being a Recruiter?”. I started thinking. I had a ton of examples, but one in particular sticks out in my mind like a sore thumb and one that I have reflected on time and again.

EXAMPLE

This was a conversation over a LinkedIn message a few years back with the co-founder of a software startup. Below are the key points from our conversation which I will reflect on.

REFLECTION

They were right! What kind of introduction was that?! Especially when I completely overlooked that this was a co-founder of the business and what must have been a particularly difficult time in their career at that moment. I can just imagine the thought that was going through my head at the time, “THE COMPANY IS GOING DOWN! QUICKLY MESSAGE EVERYONE AS I’M SURE THEY’LL ALL WANT TO LEAVE”.

That thought isn’t necessarily a bad one though, being able to act quickly with a valuable piece of insight is often fruitful when recruiting. Perhaps even that exact same message may have received a positive response from someone else in the business who had perhaps been recently let go and felt resentment. But upon your introduction you don’t always know the full situation and you certainly don’t know the person well enough to assume how they feel.

My key takeaways:

  1. Consideration and empathy are never underestimated.
  2. Many people invest time, money and emotion into their business.
  3. Do your research before making an introduction.

So, how would I approach the scenario now? I would start off with condolences for their situation, as for a founder a startup can be their life’s work and one of their proudest achievements and when it doesn’t work out it can be heart breaking. It wouldn’t have been hard to find some of the achievements of that startup and specifics about why their profile would make them a potential fit for the new opportunity; introductions should always be personalised. And ending the message, I’d acknowledge that it may be a difficult time and that a new opportunity may not be right for them for some time, but when that time comes I’d be glad to help in any way I could.

As I said before, “mistakes in life and work can be tolerated, but only if you learn from them quickly and use that newfound knowledge to your advantage”. This was embarrassing at the time but I’ve learnt from it and become a better Recruiter because of it.

I hope this article was helpful and don’t hesitate to get in touch, I’m always looking to learn from others (joe.burridge@hudl.com or jdjburridge@gmail.com).

 

Applying For Jobs? Avoid Doing This…

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Mark Twain – “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest”

I’m a Recruiter which means I read a lot of job applications. And as the “New Year, New [Career/You/Life]” spam comes our way you may be thinking of sending out multiple applications (but before you even think of quitting your job though, you may want to read this). I see a lot of articles with advice on how to make your application stand out but I don’t see much advice about what to avoid.

Below are some examples of applications that just straight up annoy me, some even lead me to rejecting the application before I’ve seen the résumé/CV. This article may seem like a cathartic rant but my intentions are good, I just want to help Recruiters and candidates the world over.

Ultimately, the point of this article is to highlight that I have one surprisingly simple piece of application advice and it’s this…

a well-written, personalised, fully completed and thoughtful application will (most of the time) make you stand out from the rest.

Now let’s rant.

CAPITAL LETTERS EVERYWHERE

“I am THE PERFECT CANDIDATE for this job”. Whenever I see this I always think, would the perfect candidate actually write a sentence like that? A couple of weeks back I even saw an application written entirely in capital letters. Literally, the whole thing. The point here is, focus on you and your experience to help sell yourself, not the use of UPPERCASE LETTERS.

EFFORTLESS COVER LETTERS

A cover letter isn’t a requirement when applying at Hudl, so when I see one I think, “awesome, they’ve taken the time to write a cover letter”. Then when I see it’s a generic cover letter that the candidate has probably used time and again with no edits at all for each application…I just facepalm. This adds no value to your application. The cover letter is an opportunity to highlight areas of your experience, personality and passions that make you a great fit for this specific role at this particular company. I would go as far as to say that generic cover letters harm your application.

AVOIDING APPLICATION QUESTIONS

Above is an example from a recent application for our Software Developer vacancy. On it we really only ask that you spend a moment to think about these questions: What language have you learned most recently? What did you like most about it? Application forms may seem tedious but remember, most of the time it’s the very first interaction between you and a potential new employer. Take the time and make it count. Links are important too, for example we want to see Developers who are proactive on GitHub and Sales Reps with an engaging LinkedIn profile.

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MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS

I’m often asked, “should I submit multiple applications?” I guess the thinking is that the employer will notice you, and they will, but not for the right reasons. Most good TMS’ (talent management systems) will show if a candidate has applied to multiple roles. But what are the chances that a) you genuinely want either role equally b) you are qualified equally for both roles. The chances are slim, so focus on one role. If you’re not quite sure whether to apply for say a Lead Software Engineer or Technical Product Manager, then pick one and mention it on your application. Or better yet get in touch with a Recruiter, Engineer or Product Manager within the company who will be able to help. Multiple applications just look like spam and that you aren’t focused on a particular career path.

LAZY CV/RÉSUMÉ

“I don’t have time to write a CV/résumé, so I’ll just download a PDF of my LinkedIn profile”. What!? No. Don’t do that. Indeed also offers a similar option. Please avoid doing anything like this. This is your career, this could be a life changing dream job, so take the time to craft a CV/résumé that highlights your best self. Laziness rarely pays off when job hunting.

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I hope this article was useful, if you want to get in touch use joe.burridge@hudl.com.