How I Screwed Myself Out of a Job at Insomniac Games

Office Space, 20th Century Fox (1999)

Hiring is always a battle of good and evil. It’s trying to find the best candidate for the spot. Hiring managers anguish sometimes over which candidate to ultimately hire. It’s not a decision that we at Insomniac Games take lightly either. A lot of time, energy, conversation, training and money goes into every new hire here. And when its right- it’s like the clouds part and the sun is shining, birds are singing, and flowers are popping up. And when it’s wrong – and everyone makes a wrong choice once in a while, it can be like “The Shining” (kidding – it’s never been that scary here). But that’s a story for a different day. We’re here to talk about the initial application you submit for your dream job and what happens on our side once you hit submit when applying through an applicant tracking system. Yes, its resume and reel review time!

We recently had and opening to fill in HR. Our HR Assistant/Front Office position was vacant and we needed to find a qualified candidate. And so the recruiting process began; we went through all the questions about what would best fit our group, what skills we were ultimately looking for, and what role this particular opening would fulfill. We reviewed the job description, making sure to hit all the key responsibilities, chose assessment questions to help us assess relevant skill level and experience, and then waited. We did not have to wait long. Resumes came rolling in, in classic fashion. We saw candidates that were qualified, over qualified, under qualified and then not qualified at all. The worst offenders were guilty of what I’ll kindly refer to as application SPAM. APP SPAM is applying for a job the candidate is not really interested in or qualified for – case in point the environment artist or the game designer that applies for an HR Assistant/Front Office Administrator. WHY? Why would you apply to an HR job when what you really want is to be an artist or a designer? That has never really made sense to me and yet, it happened repeatedly throughout our most recent hiring process. I have heard hiring managers lament the strange candidates they get, and I have moved candidates from one job posting application to another when they have accidentally applied for the wrong position, but I’ve never really seen blatant random applications like this. We had animators apply, artists apply, and marketing people apply – for an entry level HR spot. Don’t get me wrong – HR IS where it’s at – but just because you want to work in games, heck, just because you want to work at INSOMNIAC GAMES, doesn’t mean you should apply to every position we have available. With a shotgun approach you’re only going to end up shooting yourself in the foot! Case in point – those people who thought – “Oh man- once they see my resume – they are TOTALLY going to see the talent here, and offer me a job regardless of what position I applied for”. Unfortunately, what actually happens is that you screwed yourself out of being an Insomniac job candidate for the next 12 months.

rejectWHAT?!?! Yup, you heard right. Why? If we reject your application, as being unqualified, we won’t review your resume for another 12 months. Think we’re taking a hard line? Perhaps we are but this is what it looks like on our side of the fence…we are going to see that you applied for HR, and art, and animation, and programming – all just hoping to get your resume seen by someone – anyone. What it shows us is that you are confused and perhaps a spammer of resumes. Did you read the posting? Did you really think that your skills were a match for the job? I’m not talking about the people who apply for a gameplay programming spot and also apply for a mobile gameplay spot. These jobs are similar and clearly have some similar skills and knowledge overlap. I’m talking radically different skills for each job. I don’t hire a plumber to work with electrical wiring in my house… even if s/he is an AMAZING plumber. Here’s what ultimately matters most: Do you have the skills to do the job? Is this the job you want to have? Did that artist really want to be in HR? Nope. Not when their objective stated – “to be a part of the Art team at Insomniac Games.”

The point is this, we want to hear from you, when our job openings match your skillset. Be a sharpshooter, not a shotgunner.

Until next time….