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How to Apply For a Job With An Indie Developer

Carefully targeted emails are key to finding work in the independent development community. I've been shocked by some of the obvious mistakes applicants make.

Last week I binned around forty job applications whilst I was looking for an artist to help me with Maia. Why? They were so terrible that I felt I was wasting my time even reading them.

I've been freelancing since I was a teenager and would send hundreds of emails a day in dry spells, but I always ensured they were high quality.

I was shocked to find the standard of communication on offer in the applications I received was so poor. Many of the artists have been working for much longer than I have. There is really no excuse.

Punctuation

If you don't use punctuation in an email asking for a job then I can be pretty sure you don't use it in less formal settings. Poorly formatted sentences are horrendous to read. This is your first impression and you have already stumbled.

Capitalise

Seriously? If your basic English skills aren't up to the level and you consistently fail to capitalise the start of sentences and proper nouns; take an English course. I spend more time in game development communicating than anything else; it's a critical ability.

People skills

Address ME in the email. If you are responding to a job post I made, then I probably used my name. "Dear sir or madam" just goes to show you didn't read the advert. How am I supposed to work with someone who can't read and absorb information?

Formality

I am not a bank (Notch may be). Don't write me an email in a weird tone that is so formal that I think you are a robot or doing a foreign language letter writing course. A polite, friendly email will always stand out in my inbox.

Formatting

If you go to the trouble of typing out your application in Microsoft word and then paste it into your email client, make sure they are compatible! I received several emails that appeared to be walls of unreadable characters. It was horrendous.

Attachments

Sending more than 10MB to someone unannounced is rude. 50MB and you are going to find me angry at you before I even open up your email. Do you think that's a good idea?

Patience

If I don't reply for a while, it's a good idea to politely ask if I received your application. It's not a good idea to pester me daily or to use means of communication, like my personal email, that I didn't list in the original job posting

Show some interest

If I've made the effort to say what the job involves, show some interest in it. Mention my game, your opinions on it, have a look on my website, appeal to my ego a bit.

That midnight oil

It's common to find that creatives do their best work in the middle of the night. I sometimes do the odd all-nighter. Just don't email me at 5am: First of all it might wake me up, but secondly it raises questions about whether I will be able to reach you at all in standard working hours.

Adobe Flash Websites

If I can't bookmark a page on your site, I wont. It's never been acceptable to have a Flash powered portfolio site.

"Don't show this to anyone it's under NDA!"

How am I going to trust you with sensitive work if you show such contempt for your previous employer?



Please think of all the above points before you email me or any other indie. Its not hard, and a pleasant, cheery email will always brighten my mood and put you on a great steadying.

Good luck.

-Si

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