This morning I received an email sent to an alias I have as a Board Member for the IGDA. The email was from a game industry recruiter saying she was representing a candidate and would I be interested in reviewing his CV, what were my thoughts on this candidate, etc. There was several things wrong with this email/CV/situation.

#1: This CV was SEVEN pages long with the 7th page only having 4 lines to cover his education, was oddly spaced, and most of the space was taken up by the recruiter’s very large logo used in the header and the footer plus large margins. Even if I was in a position to be hiring this person I would never want to get through all that and would think it was too long.

#2: This CV’s footer said the CV was submitted per the recruiter’s terms and conditions and yet no where on their site (even when you actually go through the whole 6 step process to fill out your information (on a form riddled with issues) and finally submit your CV do you actually find or agree to any terms and conditions.

#3: If the recruiter was actually a good recruiter then a) this would not be the first email I ever received from the person/recruiter and b) she would have done her homework and realized that she sent it to the IGDA which is a professional association that REPRESENTS game developers, not a company that actually develops games and would therefore want to hire her candidate.

#4: On the off chance that this candidate did, indeed, know that the recruiter wanted to send his CV to us and agreed to it then either the opportunity was misrepresented or he didn’t do his homework before agreeing to be blindly sent to someone instead of for an actual job opportunity. (Hint: Game recruiters should rarely just blindly send a candidate to a company with no relevant open job posting.)

Too often I have seen people get persuaded into using recruiters who either aren’t really connected and can’t help them or just completely do things improperly or care more about their clients (the companies who pay them) than the actual candidates. So with this recent gaffe in mind I thought I’d share some quick tips on working with game industry recruiters. (Full Disclosure: The IGDA has partnered with multiple game recruiters and I spent time contracting and offering my services to a game recruiter in the past as well as have tried to use game recruiters before for my own personal job hunting.)

Tip #1: NEVER just blindly accept the help of a game recruiter, even if you’re fresh off a layoff. Do your homework. Check out the company’s website, talk to people and see what they think of them (has anyone used them? heard of them? etc.), look at the companies they are representing (and are they actually working with them or are those just jobs pulled in from other job boards), how old are those jobs and are they current (e.g. do they seem to have a hard time filling positions or do they fill positions but then forget to update their website – see also: not very organized) and most importantly look at the people involved with the recruiter – do they have game industry experience? how long have they been doing recruiting and talent searching? how long have they been doing that in the game space? NOTE: If a recruiter’s website does NOT list who is on their recruitment team, preferably with short bios, then do NOT use this recruiter!

Tip #2: NEVER just submit your resume or CV without talking to the recruiter and understanding their process. The recruiter, if they are a good one, should work with you to help polish up your resume before submitting you to a client for a job. The recruiter should talk to you and get your approval for EACH AND EVERY job they want to submit you as a candidate for and NEVER try and place you anywhere that you don’t want to or that you have already applied to on your own (or through internal referrals).

Tip #3: NEVER let a recruiter make a resume alteration you are not happy with (though good recruiters will have more experience and knowledge on how to format your resume to get past screeners and entice hiring managers so do occasionally try and see it their way). Most importantly a game recruiter should never ask you to lie or intentionally misrepresent your experience, skills, or work history on your resume, CV, cover letter, portfolio, demo reel, or website.

Tip #4: ALWAYS confirm with the recruiter ahead of time how their process works when it comes to dealing with candidates. Will they ask your permission before submitting you to a job? Do they check with you first on what companies you’ve already applied to or if you know anyone internally who could get you in the door better? Do they keep you updated with a daily email or weekly call on the status of all your submissions? Do they have someone who will always be your go to or is it a pool of recruiters and at any one time one or all of them will be working with you? If it’s the latter are they making sure they coordinate and not send you to the same place twice?

Tip #5: ALWAYS make sure you know what you’re agreeing to. If you decide not to use their services anymore will they remove your information on file, stop submitting you for jobs, continue to send you emails, etc.? Are you able to use other recruiters at the same time or only them? Are you able to apply for jobs on your own, even ones they are currently sourcing, especially if you have a friend/colleague who works there and can refer you internally (read: better chance of being hired)? What kind of job are they submitting you for? (Hint: Do your own homework and research the company and position BEFORE you agree to let them submit you!)

Tip #6: ALWAYS keep your recruiter up-to-date on what jobs you’ve applied for, what jobs you’re looking for, any new skills you’ve learned, any changes you’ve made to your resume, portfolio, or demo reel, etc. Your recruiter can be your best friend in your job hunt but they need to know you in order to help you. Can you relocate? Are you willing to try different positions? Do you have to work for a certain type of game company or in a certain genre? Are there certain gaps in your work history or resume that you need help accounting for? Do you tend to have issues with spontaneous coding tests because of a learning disability? They are NOT the hiring manager so they are the people that, if they are good, will be on your side and help present you in the best light. Remember: It’s in their best interest to not only help you find a job but for them to fill the jobs for their clients.

I could go on and on and on about this but those are some of the basics you need to know. Just like with anything its about doing your homework and due diligence. If you find the right game recruiter, keep them. Even after you get a job stay in touch with them, let them know what you’re up to, etc. Layoffs are common everywhere, especially in the game industry, and so you never know when they might come in handy. A good recruiter will form a relationship with you that can last your whole career and beyond.

Good luck and stay awesome!

UPDATE: I had reached out in email to the candidate directly in case they weren’t aware and got a response from the person quite immediately. As I suspected the candidate had no idea the recruiter was sending stuff out. Here’s a great reason to be careful folks!

Here is the reply I got:

Hi Sheri. Wow I had no clue they were sending my resume off to people at all. Someone at <redacted> had contacted me and said they saw my linked in and asked if they could help place me with some contract work. I had stated that sure I wouldn’t mind but would need ot know where and who is receiving my resume. So this is a huge surprise. I apologize for the email and will jump on it immediately to resolve the issue. I am 10+ year developer and understand the importance of proper channeling when it comes to submitting resumes and such so I deeply apologize and I hope this doesn’t effect your opinion about me or anything. Again my apologies and thank you very much for the heads up!”

SECOND UPDATE: I have since received an email from this same recruitment firm to IGDA asking about trying to utilize their services for art related positions, despite the IGDA clearly being an association that advocates and supports game developers and not an actual game development studio who would hire artists. If I wasn’t so nice I’d now call this company out by name. PLEASE DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE!