Ian Thomas

Ian’s Trivial Getting-a-job Tips

I’m not an HR person. However, over the years I’ve hired quite a few people to be on software or games teams. More recently I’ve helped out with filtering CVs for games companies. I’ve also been bombarded with emails about work experience. This is a set of short rants I recently posted to my Facebook page when I got frustrated with what I was reading. A few people have said I should collect them – so here we go, verbatim. I’ll undoubtedly add to them.

These are examples of really, really basic issues. That’s why I’ve been posting frustrated rants — I can hardly believe people are doing this sort of thing.

Tip #1

Say you are applying for a job as a waiter.

In which case, don’t send in your cover letter with a note about your experience as a road mender with at least 5 paragraphs dedicated to a deep theoretical examination of the minutiae of roadmending using terms that no-one who has not been an expert in the field of roadmending will ever understand.

And, you know, it’d be good if you actually had any skills to do with being a waiter.

Tip #2

If asked about your ability with written English (and narrative in general)

“I’m good at writing, I have wrote a book.”

will not help your application very much.


Tip #3

If you’re trying to get a job in games in a particular area of the country, probably best not to go on to the Facebook group for the games industry in that area and insult everyone’s work.

Tip #4

If applying for a PR and Communications role – in which you’ll be expected to compose and send out emails and press releases – please consider using capitals and punctuation.

I mean, preferably you’d use them correctly, but using any at all would be a good start.

Tip #5

If you care about layout for your CV, don’t send it in Word. It’ll give unpredictable results depending on whose machine you’re on, what fonts are installed, which version of Word you’re using, and what the result of the Microsoft randomised number spinner comes up with on any given day.

(33 years. It’s been 33 years, Microsoft, and you still haven’t got it right. In fact you’ve managed to make several things about it worse since around 1997.)

Oh, and some people don’t have it installed and will be viewing your doc in something handrolled made out of paper and gaffa tape running on a hacked telegraph machine.

(Use PDF.)

Edit, having just looked at the next CV: Sending your CV as a low-quality JPEG isn’t ideal, either. Jesus Christ.

Edited again: The JPEG is a black starfield background with a slender white monospaced font. If there was the opposite of the ideal CV, this is it, marred only by the fact the guy hasn’t used rainbow colours anywhere. Or an animated GIF.

Edited a third time: Yes, sure, some agencies require Word so they can rip off your contact details and substitute their own. That’s not what I’m talking about here – I’m talking about applying direct to a company if you’re someone who’s trying to lay out your CV nicely.

Tip #6

Don’t go in criticising the recruiter and the recruitment advert, telling us how to do it properly, and then make it clear that if we fix your issues with it you might deign to apply.

Addendum: Don’t, in reply to comments, wittily say things like “Slack and Github – keeping the gaming industry alive since 1996” when Slack was released in 2013 and Github in 2008.

Tip #7

Relieved some aggression by replying to a student’s enquiry letter about work experience.

Turned into mostly a rant about selling themselves. You know, writing about what they’re actually interested in, rather than “oh, you know, maybe some testing, or anything at all really, i don’t care, just my tutors say I have to”. Show some excitement, damnit! Be keen!

(Also that they should probably say whereabouts in the country they live. If he’d have been lucky and we had a place for work experience… oh, and an office, which we don’t… then he’d have had to travel from North Wales to South Wales every Thursday morning and back again in the evening.)

Tip #8

Gonna email someone out of the blue asking for a job? Take the time to tailor your query email. Just little things. Mentioning what they do and that you might be interested in it. Or looking at their company website, realising that they don’t actually do anything like the job you’re asking for, and stopping yourself pressing send.

Blanket emails look like blanket emails, and that you don’t give a damn about the people you’ve just emailed.

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