You’ve written up the job specification and you know exactly what the vacancy is going to entail…now what? Sure, there’s plenty of applicants out there who could probably do the job well enough; but how do you find that perfect candidate that will not only add to your team but make you better?
Knowing how to find the perfect person for your role can be time-consuming for the unfamiliar, especially if this isn’t your full-time job and you’re having to find time around your other duties. It’s important to remember that enticing the perfect candidate is only half the battle, and that starts long before you push a job description live on your website, or hand it over to an external recruitment agency.
“In an ideal world, most studios want skilled and experienced developers with AAA experience. In reality, the talent pool isn’t large enough to support the needs of every studio. One answer is to look to the next generation, home growing their talent and skills,” suggests Ian Goodall, our Managing Director. Over the last few years, more and more games studios have turned to universities and higher education in an effort to grow their own perfect candidates. A lot of great work has been done already in this field, with studios such as Team17, Boss Alien, Sumo Digital, and TT Games actively working with innovative internship and graduate programs. “Studio input, to help to build better qualifications and courses, will benefit the whole industry. It will push grads to meet the skill shortages being experienced, resulting in stronger applicants all round. There are ample opportunities for studios to get in front of universities and higher education colleges, from our Grads in Games initiative to focused careers day events.”
“The best evangelists and recruiters you and a studio can have is your own team. If they love working within your studio culture, and feel supported and valued, that message will filter out far and wide. From social media to word of mouth, you’ll have candidates actively seeking you out whether you’re recruiting or not,” adds Simon Hope, our Recruitment Director. You don’t need to have a focused PR push, with forced on-camera interviews with nervous looking staff. Building a fun place to work, and a great place to grow, will often market itself. Have a company hashtag, encourage the team to use it. Getting visibility on how great it is to work within your walls is vital for employer branding. You want to be known throughout the industry as a great place to work so that other developers jealously talk about you over the water cooler.
“It will depend on the type of role you’re hiring for but ensure that candidates know what to expect from the start, especially when it comes to the length of the hiring process. If not, this is how you’ll lose candidates. Good talent doesn’t wait around and if you’ve not clearly communicated expectations throughout, someone else will beat you to them,” says Ian. Regardless of the number of stages or the amount of tests required to find out if a candidate would be a good fit or not, it’s the pace of the whole process which will test them the most. Taking too long to get to the final stages will result in candidate attrition, as they move off to other opportunities. The interview process needs to be kept simple. An initial video call to ascertain soft skills and culture fit, a creative or technical test to determine skills and suitability, and a final interview with hiring managers. The final stage can even involve a studio tour, where possible, which will allow the candidate to see the working environment.
“Candidates are often relocating large distances, even internationally, to work with you. It can be difficult for both parties to know what exactly is required for a candidate to live comfortably in comparison to what they are used to. It’s important you do your research. Create a welcome pack that can be shared with potential candidates that outlines the cost of living in the local area, schooling options, house prices, rent expectations, and local amenities,” suggests Simon. This will show those going through the recruitment process that you’re committed to employee health and wellbeing. This extra effort to make sure they have all the tools they need to make an informed decision will be very much appreciated. Make sure you check the candidate’s salary expectations throughout the whole process, not just at the start or the end. People’s circumstances change and it could be wasted time all around if someone makes it to the final stage and has to decline because the position isn’t viable any longer.
“If a studio is able to be flexible and can allow for a percentage of its roles to be remote, the potential talent pool explodes. There are various reasons why talented developers can’t accommodate an office environment, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be an incredible hire for you and the team,” adds Ian. One of the largest barriers to employment opportunities is uprooting family, offering remote work completely negates that concern. Children can be kept at the same schools and partners don’t have to give up their careers. This will allow you to hire more diversely too, with more candidates being available to hiring managers.
“Communication is key and staying in contact with a new hire from acceptance to their start date is vitally important. Stress will build as they quit their current role and potentially relocate for the position you are offering. If they don’t feel welcome, or if they don’t have a clear picture of how things are progressing, they might get cold feet and you could find yourself losing your new teammate before they’ve even started,” warns Simon. A little reassurance and logistical support will go a long way, especially to those predisposed to anxiety. Be mindful of others! You want to lay the groundwork long before they walk through the door. They need to know they’re valued, and not just another payroll number.
“It might be that you’re using an external recruitment agency to find your perfect candidate. Be prepared to jump on a call with the recruiter to run through what you’re looking for and why. A certain amount can be learnt by reading a basic job specification, but you’ll have preconceived notions and expectations that haven’t been shared. That means candidates coming through to you won’t be quite as perfect as you expect!” suggests Simon. Taking the time to be available to your recruitment partners will ensure a smooth and predictable pipeline of talent, as well as a strong relationship that can be depended on in the future during times of need.
“Keep an eye out for CVs and portfolios that show clear evidence of extracurricular projects outside of work or university; this is especially noticeable for graduates. Artists, programmers, and creatives who go out of their way to hone their trade on their own projects will generally be the most passionate and skilled when it comes to their specific discipline,” adds Rebecca Wright, our Graduate Recruitment Consultant. Although the volume of students looking to get into game development out of university has swelled in recent years, many still rely on just the course material alone to secure them employment in the future. In this day and age, the minimum is not enough. Determined young game developers are now regularly undertaking game jams, game development challenges (such as Search for a Star), and forming small indie teams within their peer groups to release their own games. Keep an eye out for people like this! If they can mobilise to this degree without guidance, just imagine how hard they’ll work for your project.
By actively engaging in the tips above, you can better shortlist the perfect candidate for your next role, but sometimes there’s no substitute for a professional eye. With over thirty years of industry recruitment experience, please feel free to reach out to us for any recruitment needs!