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How to change disciplines, and get people to stop thinking about what I currently do?


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#1 the_grimace   Members   -  Reputation: 117

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 03:27 AM

Hi all,

I'm a sound designer and audio engineer that has been working in the game industry as an audio designer for about 3 years now. However, I've always been interested in production work as well, and to me, just being to work in the industry making games is more important than what capacity I do that in. Honestly, I know I can be a great asset in either an audio design or production role, but up until now, I have done the audio path.

However, over the last year and a half I've been trying to pursue open production jobs (assistant producer, associate producer - most of these require only 1-3 years of experience) and I rarely get even an email or peep from the company. The kicker is that over the last year, I've had three companies contact me about the Production position I applied too, only to tell me what a wonderful audio demo and career I had, and that they feel I would fit much better with them as an audio designer... and that they will keep me on file for the next opening. I guess that is a win in some ways, but to me I feel like what's happening is that people are seeing my audio experience and scoffing off the production potential I have.

And not that I'm going for these positions empty handed. I have a specific cover letter and resume for producer jobs, detailing my strengths as they pertain to the responsibilities and why I would be good for the job. I even have a year of production work as at one of my first jobs in the industry I worked as both an audio designer and associate audio producer. (which I include on said resume).

Are there any things I can do to help my visability with pursuing production work? I feel people just dismiss me as an audio/sound designer, when really lots of my strength lay too with being a great producer. Any one have advice on best methods when trying to switch departments or change disciplines?

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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 12037

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:50 AM

1. How to... get people to stop thinking about what I currently do?
2. I know I can be a great asset in either an audio design or production role, but up until now, I have done the audio path.
3. However, over the last year and a half I've been trying to pursue open production jobs (assistant producer, associate producer - most of these require only 1-3 years of experience) and I rarely get even an email or peep from the company.
4. I even have a year of production work as at one of my first jobs in the industry I worked as both an audio designer and associate audio producer. (which I include on said resume).


1. You've never heard the term "pigeonholing"? That's what you're talking about. You've been "pigeonholed" as an audio designer.
2. You know that, but others don't know that.
3. I see the problem. You're not trying to switch role within a company -- you're trying to get a job in an outside-the-pigeonhole role in a new company (one where you have not worked before). That multiplies and magnifies the problem twentyfold!
4. (I'm writing this from the perspective of the hirers who've pigeonholed you and turned you down, to help you see this from their POV.) So for two years (two thirds of your experience in the industry) you have lost touch with the production role. In other words, "what have you done lately?" Also, when you way you were a producer, you aren't saying you were an "associate producer," with the implications that title carries -- you were an "associate audio producer," and I don't know what that job entails, but it doesn't sound like it encompasses the wide-ranging duties that an associate producer title does.

To switch roles is not easy, takes time, and is best accomplished within the present company (not by changing jobs).
It can also come about through sheer luck.
Best not to rely on luck.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 16887

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 08:43 AM

I've been in that position no less than twice.
At my first job, I started off as a QA. Turns out I'm a decent QA: I have a fair eye for details and can understand an engineer when he speaks, so most of the time, I can do decent white and black box testing methodologies.
For some reason, my H.R. could look no further. Most of the QAs at my former job actually had various talents besides being decent QAs, but because her QA problem was solved by us being there, there was simply no means for us to evolve from within this company. No matter how many openings there were, my fellow "would-be designer" colleagues couldn't really go any further. Nor could I enter management.
We were all reminded how invaluable our work was to the company and how it would be impossible to hire new recruits with the same value.
Of course, we were promised that new people would be hired and that we'd train them, but most of them were limited duration contracts so we ended up on our own the year after, starting from scratch with fresh recruits.

The first step towards emancipating ourselves from this situation was to look away from the company. I was the one to initiate that. I had been working 2 years there. During my 2nd year, I had taken all management-related responsibilities I could (including the role of Scrum Master of my production team).
The month after I left, the H.R. had to deal with a commotion where all other QAs threatened to leave, and she actually allowed for each of them to become junior designers, pending they'd train their replacements first (thus she hired actual undetermined duration contract QAs). They still owe me a beer :)

The second time, I was a producer seeking an opening on a slightly more creative position. I was quickly brought to an interview, during which they actually told me the value of what I did as a producer was much more critical to them and that, given the choice, they'd much rather hire a less capable candidate for this position and retain my services as producer.

The botom line, in my case, is that I've found that, within the same company, it is very hard to change hats when the work you do is valued. HR sees it as solving a problem by creating another, and because hiring is a bit of hit&miss, whereas your value is known, they'd much rather find someone from the outside. In most places I've been this has been a great cause for carreer stagnation and a big cause for frustration.

I'm assuming you've had the same kind of experience with your current company?

As far as changing company goes, I must admit I've been extremely lucky myself. I offered a Win-Win for my new employer: I was a bargain to them from a compensation standpoint, but they allowed me to do the job I wanted and acquire some more experience. That's the deal I made, and fully stand by it, but my recommendation would be the same as Tom's:

Try internally. Offer deals: continue doing your job, but take on opportunities/responsibilities that are more in-line with what you seek to do. Remember that, was it not for my ability to take on management responsibilities from my QA position, I would never have had the value required to make that switch anyway.

Good luck!

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The Art of Enemy Design in Zelda: A Link to the Past - Reverse-engineering functional enemy design from applied example.

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#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 12037

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:03 AM

As far as changing company goes, I must admit I've been extremely lucky myself...
Try internally. Offer deals: continue doing your job, but take on opportunities/responsibilities that are more in-line with what you seek to do. Remember that, was it not for my ability to take on management responsibilities from my QA position, I would never have had the value required to make that switch anyway.


Yep.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.




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