9 Tips to Get Hired for a Video Game Journalism Job (Any Job, Really)
After sorting through the 100+ applications for our Associate Editor gig here at GameSkinny, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few tips from behind the usually soulless, feedback-devoid curtain that separates applicant and application reviewer.
These tips really apply to almost any application, but those of you seeking writing or editing jobs should find them especially relevant.
#1 Follow Directions
Directions in a job post are a test. If you don't follow directions now, I have no expectation you'll follow directions if you're hired. Does the job posting say to use a particular subject for your email? Now is not the time to get clever. Use their subject line or wind up in what is commonly referred to as the 'round filing cabinet.' (Technically it should be called the cylindrical filing cabinet, but you get the point.)
#2 Don't Waste Your Intro Email
Online applications that ask you to send a resume to an email address are providing you the golden opportunity to make a first impression before anyone sees your resume. That's pretty rare these days, as many companies have hiring portals that will prevent you from emailing directly, so look at this opportunity as a gift. If you have the skills to make a great first impression in your email, do it!
Sending an email that just says "Resume attached" makes an impression, but it's not one that's likely to work in your favor.
#3 Keep it Brief
That said, keep anything you're submitting brief, technically sound (especially when you are applying for a writing/editing gig), and interesting; entertaining is also good, but won't save you if you've missed out on the first three. You want to share the information that will help you get hired, but don't obscure it with extra filler that you think you need to make your intro email, cover letter, or resume a certain length.
#4 Make it Relevant
I have an inbox full of people who want a gig, those who have obviously read the job posting, researched our site, and customized their intro and resume to our needs and will be easy to spot and much preferred over people who seem disengaged.
#5 Check Yourself
No, seriously. When was the last time you looked at your Google+ avatar or scrutinized your actual email address with an outside eye? If either one screams "UNPROFESSIONAL" you are going to have a bad time. Now is not the time for inside jokes in your email handle or bathroom selfie profile pics.
Great qualifications can overcome shortcomings in this area, but only if you are the most qualified candidate and the hiring manager gets past your borderline-offensive email address in order to even read your resume and discover that fact.
#6 Not Everything Should Go On Your Resume
A close cousin to #3 and #5 - do you have pictures, religious affiliation, clip art, awkward personal details about your most recent break up?
Yeah, leave 'em out.
#7 But Do Add Interesting Skills That Set You Apart From The Crowd
Assuming they are relevant to either the position or the company, do add other skills that could make you a more well-rounded candidate for the position. These help not only give you an edge over others in qualifications, but also make your application more memorable.
'Where did that app go for the guy with all the social media experience? Ah, there it is...'
#8 Don't Forget Your Resume
Seems simple, but I've already seen a number of applicants go by who failed to include their resume, writing samples, and/or editorial samples. Don't make it easy to ignore your application! Double check the job posting to ensure you've fulfilled all the directions before you send. Sending a follow up 'oops - I forgot this thing' might work, but it might also be too late. Depends on the competition.
#9 Use Their Words Against Them
To the savvy wordsmith, company copy provides a keen edge over the competition, as well as a way to get the ever-elusive attention of the hiring manager.
Read the company website. Read the job posting. Now read it again. Now reread your cover letter and intro email. Are you speaking their language? Could your copy have been lifted right off of their 'About Us' page? Matching your tone to the company style accomplishes two things:
- It lays to rest any question of 'can this person write in our brand voice?'
- It subconsciously tells the hiring manager 'this cat would fit in here.'
'Cultural fit' is one of the most elusive traits to convince a company you have, and you can do it long before the interview with a little wordsmithing. As I'm reading through some messages, some are spot on. Others are overly professional, too casual, or extremely wordy.
While it's possible that is just one of many styles that you as a writer are capable of, it doesn't do you any favors to use a style that's grossly mismatched to the style of the company. I write much different introductions to a law firm than I do to a independent ice cream store. Use your words wisely!
Finally - Good Luck!
Every job search is stressful in it's own way. Apply yourself, but don't forget to take time to restore yourself. Try not to take rejection or silence personally. Especially in high-competition fields, there can be many, many applicants for a single position. (Easier said than done, I know.)