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Dan Thomas
Dan ThomasHead of Game Services

Hello! Today on the Etch Play blog, we're taking a closer look at one of the biggest challenges facing games studios and publishers: Recruiting. 

You can consume this content in video form below, or, keep scrolling to read it in words, like how people used to do it before YouTube was invented. 

Still with us? Okay, here's the text.

Why is it so tough?

Simply put, the industry is experiencing massive growth. The industry as a whole keeps growing in value, more people are playing games, more games are getting bought than ever before, and naturally, more games are being made than ever before too. 

And someone has to create, publish, and market those games! 

Here's some stats for you, courtesy of Games Jobs Live, and reflective of the job market in early 2022. There are approximately 2284 games companies in the GJL database based in the UK, and of those, 183 of them were actively recruiting, with 2554 roles open on the site. But the numbers are more stark when you compare them month on month. In one example month from our data, 278 jobs were filled, but at the same time, 376 new jobs were added.

Competition for candidates (especially good ones) has never been higher, and it continues to grow.

We work with a lot of studios, and the number one conversation we have with almost all of them is about the need to attract more talent. Let's get in to some of our thoughts on the matter...

The Candidate Experience

The first thing companies do is just put their requirements up somewhere, anywhere, and wait for applicants to roll in. But a better first step is to consider the candidate experience. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential job seeker, or even someone who isn't looking for a job but might be a great fit for your new role. Where would be a good place for them to find this job information? What information, specifically, will help them determine whether this job is a good fit? And what extra context, additional info, or flair might even persuade them to apply? 

Candidates nowadays typically look for more than just a job title, although for many, titles are still important. Most want to know more about what the job would really be like, day to day. Most want to know more about the company, and the kind of culture they'd experience working there. We spend so much of our lives "at work", that it's actually very important that we work somewhere that makes us happy, with people that we enjoy working with. Your culture, and being able to meaningfully convey your culture in your job ads, are crucially important.

The games industry is littered with people who work primarily due to their passion for the industry, so a paycheck might not be the only determining factor. But let's also be honest: Our work has to support our lifestyles. For many, it has to support our families. Pay matters. And when it comes to recruiting, being upfront and clear about pay is a positive influence on the likelihood of getting applications. Nobody wants to apply for a job, and get excited about it, just to realise that the salary offered is not enough to cover their current mortgage and expenses.

What people want

Spurred on by the COVID 19 pandemic, flexible working has become more of a norm. And it's a key factor for many applicants. Whilst it's not for everyone, flexible working roles are more desirable positions. So it's worth every company considering what flexibility they can offer, whether that's flexibility of hours, or some level of remote working. Fully remote roles are the most easy to fill at the moment, and this trend seems set to continue. 

Another thing people want from their job is to grow. They often want to learn. Through your communications, you can highlight the career pathways available in the business, and the expertise that new joiners will get to work alongside. 

Candidates have never been in a stronger position than they have been today. While during an interview applicants will attempt to sell themselves, the dynamic has shifted, and the company is often now the one attempting to put themselves across in the best possible light. Recruits have choices, more than ever now that many businesses allow completely remote work. Companies have to give people some of what they want in order to compete. 

The Applicant's Journey

There are multiple steps that a potential new recruit will take on their way to becoming your new staff member. In an age like ours, most, if not all, of these steps take place on the internet - either on your website, or on a recruitment platform. So how do you ensure your digital journey for applicants is as good as it can be?

First of all, the studio presence and brand needs to be clear and available. Whether it's your own website with all the bells and whistles, or a company profile page on a recruitment network, applicants will want to know who you are. All the aspects that matter to employees, such as the culture, benefits, day to day life, and purpose will need to be communicated. 

And bear in mind, even if you have a website, your homepage might not be the first place an applicant encounters you. They could see you on social media first, like Instagram or LinkedIn. Up to date content which reflects your company needs to be front and centre, regardless of how someone may find you. 

If you're using your own website and integrated recruitment systems, you can then measure the applicant's journey using thorough analytics: Did they look at our page about our culture? Did they then look at the jobs, or did they immediately leave? Are there jobs that people look at and mull over, but nobody actually applies for? 

All of this insight and information will help you to identify issues with your recruitment journey, and hopefully, iron them out. Usually, if there are problems, it will be that the content itself (text) at any given stage isn't strong enough to convince someone to move on to the next stage. But it may also highlight issues with jobs that are perhaps poorly titled, under-salaried, miscategorised, or lacking compared to your competitors. 

A final thought...

One aspect of recruitment that many companies overlook is the power of leveraging their existing employees - assuming that the employees are happy with their job! - and empowering them to talk about life at the studio. Your biggest advocates are the people who already work for you, and testimonials from peers are more persuasive than a studio head or someone from HR telling you how great a workplace may be. Fostering a good culture, celebrating your team, and doing it publicly will pay dividends. 

That's all for today. If you have any thoughts, feel free to send them our way on Twitter or LinkedIn, or you can get in touch with us directly if you'd like to talk more. 


Additional photography by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

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