Original article by Apolline Caron-Ottavi for Espresso jobs, published on February 18th 2019. Reproduced with the kind permission of the author and Espresso Jobs.
If there’s one company in the video game industry where everyone wants to work, it’s Ubisoft. The fast-growing company employs over 3,500 professionals in Montreal. Right now, there are over a hundred positions available.
Matthew Wiazowski is the talent acquisition manager at “Ubi” (as he likes to call it) in Montreal. He spoke with Espresso-Jobs and shared a few tips to help candidates stand out from the crowd.
Which job to apply for?
Most of the jobs available are permanent positions. Of course, there’s a huge variety of jobs, especially since the products are continually evolving (Ubisoft provides its employees with many professional development opportunities), as is the way people are using them (for example, the eSports industry is a rapidly growing segment).
1. Find the right path
The video game world changes quickly. Traditional video game jobs such as game designer, level designer, and game environment designer are always in demand, but new jobs are also popping up based on technological advancements in the gaming industry. Jobs are getting more and more specialized as education programs become increasingly specific. There are now many different types of programmers with a wealth of specialties.
2. Apply for the right job
Although it may seem obvious, make sure to apply for the job that suits you best. Recruiters can spot candidates who are just looking for a point of entry by applying for anything and everything. Candidates should read job descriptions carefully and note the specific skills and requirements. Ubisoft puts a lot of effort into communicating its needs, so make the most of it!
“Take the time to read the job description on Ubisoft.com. The postings are full of information. You can find answers to most of your questions in the posting,” explains Matthew Wiazowski.
The most sought-after jobs
Programmers represent a large percentage of Ubisoft employees and are therefore in high demand. Their job requires a lot of training, because technology is constantly evolving. There are many specialties related to game engineering, depending on the system being developed.
“Within a team working on a video game, 40 per cent of its members have a background in software engineering or computer science,” says Wiazowski.
Many of the jobs available are in the area of live games. As the name suggests, these games are played in real time by many users simultaneously and require constant maintenance and content creation.
The jobs you might not think of
That’s right. Ubisoft is like its own little world, and there are many jobs that exist alongside jobs directly related to video game creation.
Matthew Wiazowski knows something about this:
“There are also a lot of career opportunities and job stability in positions not related to the creation of video games. Working in human resources, finance, or purchasing… We work in a creative environment, in positions that support our colleagues working in video game creation and creating amazing experiences. It’s fun. That’s what keeps people working at Ubi, it’s the solidarity, the team spirit.”
Education and experience
Many CEGEPs and universities in Quebec offer great video game programs. Education is not Ubisoft’s first selection criteria. However, although it depends on the type of position, the company does give priority to applicants with a university education.
“We encourage people to continue their education to the maximum level. Video gaming is an industry that offers a lot of possibilities, but it’s a complex sector. We want our candidates to have a good, solid education, to know they’ve been exposed to team work and different ideas,” explains Wiazowski.
And of course, experience is a key element for candidates. Fear of not having enough experience is a frequent concern when applying for a job.
No need to panic: the important thing is to show what you can do. Having prior experience with the exact same tasks is not always necessary.
“There are many possibilities to work on things related to what we do here. This could even include experiences in other industries; there are many concepts in video gaming that are not exclusive to video games. First and foremost, we judge the quality of the work the candidate is able to deliver,” says Wiazowski.
In short, remember:
1. Don’t sit around twiddling your thumbs.
Take advantage of opportunities to use your talent and skills so you can practice and have something to show recruiters.
2. Understand your strengths.
Many experiences can be relevant. Target as best you can the skills required for the job and highlight skills that prove how well you can work.
What qualities is Ubisoft looking for?
Even though skills vary depending on the job, there are some essential qualities that will get you noticed and show you share the Ubisoft spirit. They are:
In the video game industry, there are many technical problems to solve, which are often very interesting. Most of the time, there are many different people or even different departments involved in solving them, so you need to be driven by a desire to find innovative ways to solve problems.
Sense of teamwork
The ability to work in a team is essential. Especially at Ubisoft, where it’s necessary to work in big teams. “Collaboration is really very important in what we do,” says Wiazowski.
Adaptability and open-mindedness
This quality goes hand in hand with the previous point. There are many decisions to make and usually, not everyone is 100% in agreement. You need to be flexible and know how to adapt.
Consistency and intent
Being able to show that you’ve been consistent in the path you’ve taken and your end objectives is fundamental. Ask yourself, why am I doing this? What do I want to achieve? Which steps must I take to achieve my goal? If your path is consistent and has a final objective, you’re more likely to be get noticed.
Although recruiters find the word passion to be somewhat overused, it’s nevertheless an essential quality! You need to show interest and that you enjoy the job you’re applying for. Recruiters are judging not only candidates’ skills, but also their personality.
The hiring process
Prepare your portfolio
In artistic positions, preparing a strong portfolio (content creation, YouTube videos, etc.) is essential for candidates. There are two major factors to consider:
It’s important to take into account Ubisoft’s style and projects—open worlds with human characters and realistic designs.
For example, if you’re applying to work on a game like Assassin’s Creed and your portfolio is full of cartoons, you can expect the recruiters to choose a candidate whose projects better correspond to the game’s artistic style.
“We’re looking for people who will be able to fit in as quickly as possible and who can become productive fast,” explains Wiazowski.
Show your best works. If one of your samples doesn’t match the quality of the rest of your portfolio, you might be asked about it. You need to have a good reason for putting it in your portfolio and be able to explain the context and the reason why you decided to show it.
“We are often judged by our worst work! You need to be able to stand up for your choices and have strong arguments,” says Wiazowski.
It is also important to show all the steps of a work rather than include an incomplete work in your portfolio.
Resumé and cover letter
In your resumé, highlight the experiences that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Make sure to include the link to your portfolio in a prominent position at top of your resumé, along with your email address and phone number.
Here are some rules to follow for your cover letter:
– Address the letter to the right person! This may seem obvious, but it’s very important.
– Check your spelling. The cover letter must be well-written and well-organized.
– Keep it short, but include details specific to the job description and explain why your experience is relevant.
– Customize the cover letter to the company’s needs. “It’s easy to tell when candidates use the same cover letter for every job,” says Wiazowski.
Tests and interviews
Technical positions require candidates to pass specific tests in order to assess their skills.
Candidates who have passed these tests or the portfolio evaluation will be called in for one or two job interviews. This is especially true if their profile has piqued the curiosity of several teams! Here are some tips on what you’ll want to highlight, in addition to the basics:
Tell us about your ambition
Show us that you’re capable of looking to the future. Again, consistency helps you stand out. Candidates who can explain where they’re coming from, why they made certain choices, and where they’re going will catch the recruiters’ attention.
Show us what you bring to the team
Show that you’re inspired: tell us about your ideas. For example, a candidate who talks about how to improve an existing system would be of interest, even if the idea is nothing revolutionary.
In conclusion, Wiazowski says, “In good interviews, candidates understand why certain questions are being asked, leading to a very fruitful conversation where we can see their ability to think strategically and see the big picture.”
Click here to check out job opportunities at Ubisoft Montreal!