It can be difficult to know what studios are looking for when it comes to applications – often it can vary between not only discipline, but my projects.
Some of the most senior hiring managers at Sumo Nottingham have pulled together some top tips on how to create a winning application for roles in Production, Code and Art.
Top Tips for Production Applicants
“Make your dev experience clear”, says Senior Executive Producer Jon Schutts.
Jon is working on an upcoming project at Sumo Nottingham and has been part of many production hires in his five years at Sumo Nottingham.
Tell us about your production experience
“It’s especially important for Mid and Senior roles to make sure your dev experience is clear. A studio will be interested to know how long you’ve worked in Production, your role on previous projects and whether they were partial or full-dev cycles.”
List out the projects you’ve worked on
“All project experience matters. We want to know the projects you worked on, how you contributed to them, the external partners you worked with and the size of teams you’re used to working with.”
Make your application relevant to the role
“Move all non-relevant information in your application to the bottom, in a concise list or bullet point format, to make room for the experience in roles related to the job you’re applying for.”
Do your research
“The biggest mistake I see is people applying for roles thinking they’re something else. For example, not all companies define Producer and Project Manager as the same thing (Sumo Nottingham included!). If you’re unsure about the remit of the role after thoroughly reading the job posting, reach out to someone in recruitment at that company – they’ll often be able to point you in the right direction.”
You can check out Production roles at Sumo Nottingham here.
Top Tips for Code Applicants
“[it’s] about making us interested in you as an individual, don't oversell yourself and keep to the facts”, says Technical Director David Smethurst.
Since joining Sumo Nottingham earlier this year, David has worked closely with many of the technical teams at the studio.
Keep your skills relevant to the role
“A common mistake candidates make in applications is including too much detail about non-coding experience. It’s amazing that you can 3D model and create textures, but that isn’t what we’re looking for. Instead, be sure to talk about the areas and features of a game you were specifically involved in, and the impact your work had.”
Adapt your CV to the level
“What looks good on a CV can be dependent on the role you’re applying for. For Junior Programmers, we look for proof that you’ve learnt about making games – either at university or in your own time – and that you have a passion to learn and the drive to complete work by showing us examples. At a Senior level, we’re looking for an indication that you’ve seen projects through from inception to completion and can show examples of the work you’ve either led on or worked on as part of a team. For those senior levels, we’re looking for you to explain what, why and how.”
Put together a portfolio that shows your ability
“Portfolios are a great way for us to get to know you through your work. For Junior applicants, we suggest putting together a portfolio of examples so we can better understand your level. It doesn’t have to be fancy; the ideal format is links to GitHub projects with screenshots and/or video with accompanying descriptions of what the game or tool achieves, plus some information on your specific role on the project.”
Don’t break any NDAs!
“The secrecy of working in games – we get it. If a project isn’t released yet and you’re limited to what you can say, mention what you can and give us examples of technical work without naming names. We know all too well the difficulties presented by NDAs!”
Keep it simple
“We don’t need logos or pictures embedded into your CV, nor do we need outlandish or over-the-top formatting. Keep your CV straightforward, stick to the facts and let the content do the talking. Some ‘must-haves’ for any CV include an accurate history of employment (with your most recent at the top) complete with rough start/end dates, academic history, a list of skills and technology you’re experienced in, and – most importantly – some information about you! In the end, we’re all interested in making great games so we’d love to know what games interest you and why.”
"Remember – everyone at the company had to apply for their role and has been through this process!”
You can check out Code roles at Sumo Nottingham here.
Top Tips for Art Applicants
“Put your best and most recent pieces forward”, says Art Director Kelvin Tuite.
From Harry Potter to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Kelvin has worked on some amazing projects in his career. In his role at Sumo Nottingham, he now works across all areas of the art department.
Always include the essentials
"The best way to submit an application for a role in the art department at Sumo Nottingham is to provide us with a portfolio (either a website, an ArtStation page or a PDF) which shows relevant work, a concise CV showing your experience and detailing your skills and a cover letter which explains to us why you’d be a good fit and why you want to join the team.”
Keep it simple
“We see a lot of CVs packed with infographics showing skillsets – this way of displaying information is only useful if you are trying to demonstrate your graphic design skills for a UI role. It’s better if you just list the skills you are good at and call out those in which you have an intermediate level of understanding. The same goes for your cover letter, the key information we’re looking for is why you want to work at Sumo and what would make you a good fit.”
Make sure your application is relevant to the studio/project
“It’s a good idea to show a level of understanding of a studio and its projects when applying – Sumo Digital is a big place and oftentimes people can get confused between teams which can make for awkward conversations further down the line! With that in mind, do some research before applying! If the role is for a particular style or genre of game, make sure your portfolio demonstrates relevant work – or if your usual style is in contrast to the project, showcase your flexibility by including different styles and genres within your portfolio.”
Don’t make your portfolio just a gallery of final renders or illustrations
“We like to understand how you think, to see your working processes and the decisions you’ve made to achieve the final image. So don’t forget to support your renders with sketches, mood boards, work-in-progress pieces, sculpts, textures and material sheets. For more technical roles, we like to see all of the above plus documentation and workflows.”
Proper Portfolio Practices
“A portfolio can say a lot through its contents and helps us get a sense of your level, style and skills. There are lots of areas to cover, so here are some top tips on how to best present your work for various roles in the art team:
3D Art: Show your 3D work in a rendered video or 3D viewer in addition to screenshots, we also like to see them in situ within the game wherever possible. Be sure to include a breakdown of processes from modelling to materials, as well as references used or concepts worked from.
Concept Art: Show us the journey of how you got to the final product – the inclusion of mood boards and sketches really helps to paint the picture, and the techniques you used (like photo bash, 3D layout paint over or straight-up digital painting) lets us understand the process and your knowledge.
UI: It’s important that you show the UX flows and the sketches that led to the digital graphics. We also love to see evidence of the ability to communicate abstract concepts through iconography.
Technical Art: Be sure to demonstrate workflows, the tools you used or any Plugins, Blueprints or Code you have created.
"For any Art role it’s important to demonstrate your understanding of colour, light and composition and, wherever possible or relevant, how you have collaborated with other artists or disciplines in the creation of your pieces.”
You can check out Art roles at Sumo Nottingham here.
The Sumo Nottingham team is working on a range of exciting projects, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and is looking for talented people to join their growing team! Find out more about this powerhouse studio – including its studio culture, games and people – here.
Interested in discovering more about roles at Sumo Nottingham? All opportunities can be found on the Careers Page.