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yeap7

Position placed 'on hold'

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Hi, a couple of months ago I interviewed for a position as a designer at a company and felt the interview went very well, there seemed to be a lot of chemistry between me and the interviewers and it felt like they were genuinely impressed with my answers. I was told I could expect to hear back by the end of the week or beginning of the next week, and as I had not heard back a couple of weeks later I sent a follow-up and was told that they were impressed with both my work and interview, but the position had been placed on hold until further notice and they'd like to keep me under consideration. I asked roughly how long it was on hold for and they were unable to say how long it is on hold for as it depended on contractual arrangements for a new project. A month later I emailed again asking if they had had clarification yet, and unfortunately they had not. It's been a bit over a month since that last email, and although I have been actively looking, I have not yet found a position elsewhere. I would be happy to work for free at this company to get my foot in the door and continue gaining experience until the position become available, but am wondering about whether sending them another email (especially offering to work for free) this long after the initial interview might come across as desperate or needy, and whether it might be better just to keep looking for other opportunities and wait for an email from them if the position becomes available again. Any suggestions?

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Kinda sounds like the company might be having financial problems, trying to secure their next project so they have funding to do the hiring they want to do.

If you are indeed able to work for free, what you might do is say that you know they are between projects right now, but that you are really interested in working for them and would be willing to work for up to <some amount of time up to you, like 1 month? 2 months?> for free so you can come up to speed on their company while they get their next project lined up. You might mention something like you just graduated and dont really have anything else planned or something like that (i dont know your situation).

I dunno if it'd work, but it isnt as needy as "come on...please? i'll work for free!" hehe... makes you appear more professional too, although working for free isn't that professional!

good luck!

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Original post by yeap7
I would be happy to work for free at this company to get my foot in the door and continue gaining experience until the position become available, but am wondering about whether sending them another email (especially offering to work for free) this long after the initial interview might come across as desperate or needy, and whether it might be better just to keep looking for other opportunities and wait for an email from them if the position becomes available again.

Yes, it would sound desperate or needy. I don't recommend doing that. But as the other poster wrote, it might get you in -- a sort of temporary internship.
Personally, I think you ought to just keep looking for other opportunities. You might well hear from them again, but it could be a long time and you need to be working.
Good luck.

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Thanks for the responses, I graduated in 2008, managed to get a job as a designer at a small independant company but due to their own financial problems have ended up back in the job market a year later and in the position of having to 'break in' for a second time. While I gained a lot of valuable experience, due to the lack of shipped titles and a lot of my work being under NDA, it feels like my portfolio of what I can show companies isn't that much better off from when I started, and I'm finding there are very few junior-level design openings around at the moment, with most design positions wanting 2-5 years experience and a shipped AAA title from conception to completion.

I am in a limbo between deciding whether to put the job hunt on hold and just work on my own indie projects, or if I should keep looking for jobs. Working for free would give me more professional experience and possibly get my foot in the door of a bigger company, whilst working indie might help secure jobs in the future but I'd still be lacking in the experience gained working for a large company.

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I'm finding there are very few junior-level design openings around at the moment, with most design positions wanting 2-5 years experience and a shipped AAA title from conception to completion.
First, recall that this is a down economy. Many cities have dangerously high levels of unemployment. There are fewer job openings created, and those are quickly flooded with applicants.

Recall that over the past year, there have been several thousand experienced game developers laid off. Many excellent studios owned by bigger corporations have been completely dissolved, and promising indie studios are struggling to pay the bills.

Experienced talented game designers are plentiful right now. Many experienced programmers and artists have turned to design and are highly qualified for game design work.

If a company wants somebody who worked on a AAA title from conception to completion they are certain to find a few in their applicant pool.
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I am in a limbo between deciding whether to put the job hunt on hold and just work on my own indie projects, or if I should keep looking for jobs. Working for free would give me more professional experience and possibly get my foot in the door of a bigger company, whilst working indie might help secure jobs in the future but I'd still be lacking in the experience gained working for a large company.
You should continue your job hunt, but recognize the realities of the economy. Without experience it is more difficult to find a job. This is true of ALL jobs right now in all industries, not just game design. The situation is slowly resolving. Since you said yourself you are not desperate for money you are best to just keep applying for jobs. Good luck in your search.

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.....but am wondering about whether sending them another email (especially offering to work for free) this long after the initial interview might come across as desperate or needy,

It is very common for developers to look for employees in preparation for starting a new project. If the new project doesn't come off then they won't be able to hire. In the current economic climate a lot of publishers are leading developers on only to pull the plug on projects just at the point where contracts are about to be signed. This is almost certainly what has happened with this developer.

Offering to "work for free" is a bad idea because:
a) There is no such thing as free. Just because you aren't getting paid doesn't mean that it does not cost them money, time and effort to have you there which is pointless if they have no project. Offering to work for "free" shows you don't understand how the business works.
b) If you work for free then you are worthless - once you set that level of value in their minds it is hard to adjust it upwards.

However there is a way to ask which won't devalue you. Write and thank them for considering you for the position. Say that you understand the position isn't currently available but you would be grateful if they would keep you in mind for future positions.

Then ask if the company runs internships and if so would it be possible to apply for one of these positions.


Don't mention the word free. They may say "yes, but they are unpaid", "yes, but they only pay [small amount]" or "no" - either way you have had another go at getting in the door without devaluing yourself because internships (which are for a limited time) aren't seen as jobs and as such won't impact on how they see your value should you later get a job.

Obviously if they don't do internships then it is time to give up. Going further will def look needy and may begin to annoy so focus on looking somewhere else. After six months it would then be OK to revisit.

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Well, I had a really long reply but it timed out and I lost it all so I'll start this post again from scratch...

Thanks for all the advice, it's definitely helpful. I understand that there are time and resource costs associated with each employee, 'free' was probably a bad word to use, I meant unpaid. I have been on the job market for about 3 months now and a few weeks ago I had a second wind, opening up the possibility of working almost anywhere in the world, but the lack of success is starting to get to me a bit and I see several different options at the moment:
- Keep spending the majority of my time looking for games industry jobs, sending emails and applications
- Slow down on the job hunt and focus my time and energy on working on my own indie projects which will be good for my portfolio
- Try find a job in another field and work as a 'hobbyist' game developer in my spare time
- Go back to university for further study, undecided whether it should be in game development (I graduated with a Media degree) or another field (I am interested in psychology and writing)

It's somewhat disheartening to see all my friends who have recently graduated from finance/marketing/accounting degrees getting grad jobs straight off the bat with big companies who are willing to invest in training and mentoring grads with no experience, and as I don't want to be in this kind of situation again I'm wondering (especially with how many people burn out in this industry) if it's worth studying a different field altogether so that I am employable even in bad times - game design is so highly specialised that I'm concerned that in the future if I decide to move into something different (especially with the very limited number of jobs in certain locations), it will be hard to find another field that I'd be qualified for even with game dev experience...

Another question I had is whether companies (especially in North America) are more likely to not bother with candidates who live overseas, as they cannnot invite them in for an interview on short notice. Thanks!

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I was in a similar situation with my first job after graduating. The game studio liked me but "weren't able to commit right now", until I told them I'd had an offer from another studio. Suddenly they wanted to meet me again the next day and offered me a job.

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I have been on the job market for about 3 months now....

I'm afraid that three months really isn't that long. Six months to a year to break in isn't uncommon.

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....if it's worth studying a different field altogether so that I am employable even in bad times - game design is so highly specialised that I'm concerned that in the future if I decide to move into something different...

That is certainly a valid plan.

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Another question I had is whether companies (especially in North America) are more likely to not bother with candidates who live overseas, as they cannnot invite them in for an interview on short notice. Thanks!

Yes, companies are a lot less likely to hire from overseas for entry level positions because there are always a surplus of local applicants. If you aren't within commuting distance of a game dev hotspot you need to relocate.

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It's somewhat disheartening to see all my friends who have recently graduated from finance/marketing/accounting degrees getting grad jobs straight off the bat with big companies who are willing to invest in training and mentoring grads with no experience, and as I don't want to be in this kind of situation again I'm wondering (especially with how many people burn out in this industry) if it's worth studying a different field altogether so that I am employable even in bad times - game design is so highly specialised that I'm concerned that in the future if I decide to move into something different (especially with the very limited number of jobs in certain locations), it will be hard to find another field that I'd be qualified for even with game dev experience...
Yes, you picked something that is specialized and a position frequently reserved for experienced people from other fields.

If you background was programming or software engineering, art, animation, or some other more portable field, than it would be easier. There are a million or so companies using those skills and they are in constant demand. You can easily find a job in your work area if you are willing to move or do the job for any industry.



But game design specifically is not portable, nor is there a high demand.

There are around 1500 game studios around the globe. There are very few game design jobs created each year that need outside placement. Those few jobs have a glamor associated with them, so they are flooded with bad-fit and inexperienced applicants. They are also flooded with experienced and talented applicants. Because of the low demand and high supply, they can afford to be picky about who they hire.

If you really want a design job, you need to be friends with the people at the studio. They need to know you personally or have you recommended by somebody within the company.

To become friends you must do more than just "sending emails and applications". You must actively cultivate relationships within the industry.




You mentioned you have a "media degree", whatever that is. Have you given much thought to finding another industry that your "media degree" fits with? Once you have some work experience doing related work it is not too hard to make a lateral move between industries.

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1. I'm wondering ... if it's worth studying a different field altogether so that I am employable even in bad times

2. I'm concerned that in the future if I decide to move into something different it will be hard to find another field that I'd be qualified for even with game dev experience...

3. Another question I had is whether companies (especially in North America) are more likely to not bother with candidates who live overseas, as they cannnot invite them in for an interview on short notice.


1. "Worth" is subjective. ONLY YOU can make this determination. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/route66.htm

2. I don't think that's a necessary concern.

3. Absolutely nobody wants to bother with overseas candidates, unless they've attained demonstrable excellent experience.

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Thanks again for the advice... I moved cities for my first game design job a year ago, it's considered a local 'hot spot' with around 14 companies maybe, but that's not much compared to some areas in the US and Canada. I have Canadian citizenship as well so I am able to work there without a work permit and I am also willing to pay for my own relocation expenses if offered a job there, but I guess there is more chance of the application being looked at seriously if I am already there.

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My advice would be to let the company know that you would like to be kept on the short-list if/when the opportunity becomes available again. In the mean time, continue to search for work just as fervently as you were before -- they aren't going to be upset if you're no longer available in 2 months, they realize that you've got bills to pay.

While you're doing that, also keep your skills sharp by studying and practicing game design. There are plenty of good books to read, other skills to develop (or develop more fully), and plenty of indie/small teams that would be happy to have an experienced designer since you've already said you're willing to work for free.

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I am also willing to pay for my own relocation expenses if offered a job there, but I guess there is more chance of the application being looked at seriously if I am already there.

Yes. Move first. Apply second. Near-zero chance of success doing it the other way around.

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US and Canada have minimum wage laws. This company might be in a state where it is illegal to allow you to work for "free". There are some exceptions, such as internships for school credit (which you don't qualify) and beta testing which in theory is a license to try the product and puts you under no obligation to play the game. You are better off looking for another job or working on your own projects with similarly situated individuals.

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Once you have some work experience doing related work it is not too hard to make a lateral move between industries.


An opportunity might be available for an internship and possibly a job at a market research company, looking at quantitative (survey data) and qualitative (focus groups) results and creating reports/presentations based on the conclusions that can be drawn from this information, and I'm considering the idea of spending some time in such a role to continue getting company experience during this economic climate, and also to secure wider career options so that I am not limited to game design openings in a particular city when I need work or if I decide to change paths later in my life.

The obvious similarities to game development in such a job would be learning more about product testing and usability through monitoring focus groups and seeing their reactions and opinions to different products, presentation skills and working in a team environment. It would involve quite a bit of writing although not quite the same style of writing used in game design. Having such a job would give me some stability and the freedom to work on my own personal game projects in my spare time, whilst allowing me to expand my skillset into a field that isn't quite as 'narrow'.

Would 2 years of experience in market research be an asset towards getting a game design job when I decide to cross back over into game design? My main concern is whether employers will value this experience from a different industry, as opposed to if I spent the time unemployed and working on my own portfolio. What additional job possibilities might become available in the games industry for someone with outside experience in market research? (I'm thinking it would be valuable for working at a publisher, such as being involved in the greenlighting process or ensuring a game will satisfy the market needs)

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1. Would 2 years of experience in market research be an asset towards getting a game design job when I decide to cross back over into game design? My main concern is whether employers will value this experience from a different industry,
2. as opposed to if I spent the time unemployed and working on my own portfolio.
3. What additional job possibilities might become available in the games industry for someone with outside experience in market research?

1. It wouldn't further reduce the likelihood of getting a design job.
2. It's a very bad idea to do stuff based on how it appears -- how it looks to potential future employers. You should do stuff because it's an opportunity that looks good to you. You'll fail every time if you're always living your life to make other people happy. That said, unemployment looks bad on the resume. You can and should build your portfolio while employed.
3. Nothing comes to mind beyond marketing. This kind of broad question is easier for others to answer if it's accompanied by your own thoughts as to the answer.

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