Tips on Landing a Job from Certain Affinity

Stacy Edwards, Ray Arriaga, and Lori Zawada from Certain Affinity provided insight into coping with the emotional impact of job loss, offered portfolio advice to expedite job hunting, and shared valuable tips for aspiring artists looking to join the Certain Affinity team.

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Join us as we continue our series of articles aimed at providing assistance to those who have lost their jobs and are seeking new employment opportunities. Our team has reached out to game company recruiters to provide advice on coping with job loss and taking practical steps on how to move forward.

In this edition, we feature Certain Affinity's Senior Director of People and Culture Stacy Edwards, Studio Art Director Lori Zawada, and Director of Environment Art Ray Arriaga as they offer invaluable insights and tips on this vital subject.

Stacy Edwards, Senior Director of People and Culture; Ray Arriaga, Director of Environment Art; Lori Zawada, Studio Art Director

Strategies for Coping with the Emotional Impact of Losing a Job

Stacy Edwards: Although Certain Affinity has never had layoffs in our sixteen-and-a-half-year history, I have experience with them from previous employers. Layoffs impact each individual in their own unique way.

When receiving the news that your job has been eliminated, there is certain to be a wave of emotions; from anger, shock, fear, and/or uncertainty. Give it some time for the news to sink in and process. Once you are in a better position to think clearly, it’s time to start thinking about a plan.

There are things that you’ll not want to wait too long to start processing (e.g., unemployment claims, etc). Reach out to your connections and update your resume early in the process. Because each person and their situation is unique, there may be a sense of urgency to rush in and start applying for jobs.

Do take the time you need to assess where you are currently, and what steps you need to take to be prepared to effectively and efficiently start the search for your next role. Overall, understand that all of the feelings you are having are normal, and give yourself space to grieve the loss of your job. 

Portfolio Tips That Can Help Artists and Developers Find Jobs More Quickly

Ray Arriaga: Filter out your unfinished work from your portfolio. Focus on showing the best work that demonstrates the area in which you are most interested. Whether your examples are worldbuilding, materials, or props, the polish and completeness of your work are paramount. It is important to show production-ready assets. Quality trumps quantity. It is important to present production-ready assets. Quality should be prioritized over quantity. Including work that is not yet refined enough may raise questions or doubts about the submitted portfolio.

Review artwork posted on ArtStation. Seek out the best work, and evaluate your work with the artists who have the same experience level that you do. Break down the top-tiered artists’ work and set that as your quality bar. 

It's good to have diverse interests, but avoid spreading yourself too thin. A mixed focus may send a message of uncertainty about your career goals. Be sure your work clearly demonstrates if you are striving to be a generalist or a specialist. Highlight your personal skill and clearly show what you have to offer. Your portfolio should build confidence in your skill and potential from the viewer. Competition is fierce, so showcase your best work.

Using Social Media Effectively

Ray Arriaga: Research the companies you apply to in advance. Look at their games, genres, and art style, and ask yourself if it seems like you would be a good fit. Have patience. Finding the right opportunity takes time. When you make a connection, show excitement, but be careful not to be perceived as impatient or pushy; you don’t want to agitate a potential employer. Networking is key. Reach out to former co-workers, classmates, teachers, and friends to make connections. Referrals often provide an advantage when applying for positions.

If Finding the Right Job Is Taking Longer Than Anticipated

Lori Zawada: It can be difficult when new career opportunities are taking longer than expected. When this happens, it can have a lot to do with what stage you are at in your career.

If you are just starting out, it will be important to filter your portfolio to show your best work. Be very critical with your portfolio and compare it to others that are available. What sets your work apart from others? Passion absolutely goes a long way, but actual visual and technical skills are necessary to get any position. 

If you already have a few years of professional experience under your belt, I recommend looking to see if you are applying for the right-level roles. All studios have different expectations (sometimes surprisingly different) when it comes to career levels. What separates an associate, mid, senior, advanced, etc. can vary greatly. Your experience may be higher or lower than the positions to which you are applying. Also, continue to vet your portfolio and LinkedIn profile and be able to call out the demonstrable efforts you have made. Don’t be vague or use inflated words.

For the most senior roles, it can take a while to find opportunities as availability is more limited. Continue to network and describe, with specific examples, how you have excelled in your career. This level involves less “hands-on” content creation. Focus on demonstrating how your initiatives and guidance have helped drive projects and studios forward, and how you have helped push for quality. 

Tips for Artists Willing to Join Certain Affinity

Ray Arriaga: Check out the website and careers page for Certain Affinity as well as for other companies. Reach out politely to industry veterans via LinkedIn or ArtStation to build your network and improve the chance of your work getting noticed.

Many hiring managers are willing to provide limited feedback, but be sure to be mindful of their time and express appropriate gratitude when someone provides assistance. Do not get discouraged if an opportunity or job application does not lead to an offer; most companies have later hired candidates they rejected a few years earlier. Do not give up! Keep honing your skills, updating your portfolio, and networking within the industry, and eventually, you’ll find your opportunity.

Stacy Edwards, Senior Director of People and Culture at Certain Affinity

Lori Zawada, Studio Art Director at Certain Affinity

Ray Arriaga, Director of Environment Art at Certain Affinity

Interview conducted by Ana Kessler

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