No big news on the job front for me yet, but I thought I'd update anyway.
Companies: your recruiting process is extremely important and vital to your business. Don't drop candidates on the floor and not talk to them for two weeks after a poorly done phone screen. If you tell a candidate you're going to update them at a particular time, do it. Even if you don't have anything new to say keeping the lines of communication open and doing what you said you would do is important.
So far I've phone screened and been rejected by one company; I'm still pretty baffled by the whole thing (due to the above and not having flubbed a phone screen ever). I won't name the company because they're still one of my favorites, even if I think they were completely unprofessional (and wrong) in this case. In fact I won't name any of the companies because this post isn't about that.
I've applied to six game companies: one I just mentioned, another that I have done a phone screen, written programming test (wacky, huh?) and in person interviews with that have gone well so far. One sent a thanks-but-no-thanks response to my initial email, one got back to me after about two weeks and asked me to take an online programming test.
I've never seen this so often, maybe it is pretty common in the games industry. I can understand having the problem of a large number of applicants and needing a way to determine which ones are worth spending time on. I quite liked the in-person, written test given by the company I'm farther along with, it was designed to find out if people had the raw skills and understanding to be worth talking to in more depth, and did that well.
The online test was horrible. Two questions, could take up to five hours. Yes, five hours. And timed. After about three hours having completed the first question and made a big start on the second I just got fed up, wrote down the design I would have implemented in comments and submitted what I had. I also sent nice (I think) email explaining why I didn't finish. I expected that to be the end of it, but got an email a little while ago asking for a copy of my resume, so maybe I proved well enough that I know what I'm doing.
Two companies I have not had any response whatsoever from, again that's pretty lame. I'm much happier with the company that emailed a stock no thanks than I am with those who don't even acknowledge at all.
Contrast this all with a headhunter working for one of the top contractor shops:
I got a referral from a friend who had been through some of this recently, sent an intro email with my resume. I kid you not, my phone rang about a minute or less after I hit send. He was informative, helpful, and honest. He gave me options, asked good questions, and made an appointment to follow up at a specific time on a specific date and I fully expect the phone to ring on the dot.
He explained the demand that is out there for someone of my skills and experience and I feel very good about my backup plan at this point, and am even considering the benefits of getting back to the contractor lifestyle.
Getting into the gaming biz is still my first choice, but this experience has certainly taken the wind out of my sails. The same friend said the only way to get a good job in the industry is to be one of the creators of a game, and he may be right. At least, it is quite a tough nut to crack, and it isn't clear the results will be worth it if you succeed.
Maybe working to get lots of cash money isn't such a bad gig.