Recruiter at Naughty Dog Christina-Marie Drake McBrearty talked about the hiring process at the company, discussed how Naughty Dog helps beginners, and explained why she joined the company.
My name is Christina-Marie, and I’m a Recruiter at Naughty Dog. I serve primarily on the Creative and Operations Recruiting team with two Associate Recruiters. We also have a team dedicated to Programming and another dedicated to Onboarding and Administration. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Defiance College in Media and Communications and my Master's degree in Leadership and Technology from Pepperdine University.
I feel like I have one of the most unique answers to “why” I joined the Naughty Dog Team. I genuinely wanted an opportunity to merge my personal passion for games with my professional HR and Recruiting experience. As a direct descendant of Sir Francis Drake, the opportunity to work for Naughty Dog felt like a universal sign given the Uncharted series that’s loosely tied to my own family legacy.
Teams and Organization at Naughty Dog
Personally, I organize my work utilizing checklists and time blocking. I try to do interviews back-to-back one or two days a week and time block a predictable schedule for sourcing candidates, resume/portfolio reviews, and meeting with my hiring managers. We have numerous teams and each one has its preferred communication style. Overall, we keep in touch via Slack and e-mail during the workday. I am genuinely proud of the Recruiting team’s resilience. We have closed some tough-to-fill positions while also mentoring our new Associate Recruiters and keeping up with the studio's growth.
Working with Beginners
Our Operations team does a great job of keeping in communication with new employees, making them a curated “Welcome Kit” and pairing them with a studio partner to help get them acclimated. By pairing a veteran studio employee with a new hire, we are able to ensure an easy transition and especially with the digital age, make sure new hires are not feeling isolated or disconnected from their team.
The consideration of skills varies wildly between specialists. What I would look for in a Lead Producer is very different than a Concept Artist, both of which I am actively recruiting for. On our team specifically, some soft skills that are required include empathy, communication, and willingness to adapt. I frequently tell interviewees that the thing I love most about the Recruiting team is that we genuinely want each other to be successful, so we try our best to take actions to reflect that.
I really applaud Naughty Dog’s leadership in regard to employees' freedoms. In my first week, I brought up some process improvements and demonstrated how they could improve our workflow. Leadership was incredibly responsive, willing to hear these strategies out, and allow me to implement them. I’ve worked for companies in the past where senior leadership or CEOs were "the boss" and your voice was not welcomed or heard. Here, that dynamic couldn’t be further from the truth. Our leadership wants to be involved and truly get to know our studio members.
Naughty Dog's Approach to Education
From mentorship to education assistance, Naughty Dog provides employees with multiple avenues for continuing education. We also share knowledge with each another. Just last week, I was asked to host "Sourcing Training.” All Recruiting team members were invited to explore some sourcing strategies, both common and creative, to help us garner new talent for the studio. Another member of our team hosted Applicant Tracking Software training, so we all felt confident in the systems we were using.
Advice for Beginners
I can't stress this enough: focus on your portfolio. If you're an artist, a strong portfolio is going to get my attention more than your resume. It's my hope that if you're applying to work in the studio, you are producing consistent, high-quality content that one would expect from a Naughty Dog game. Art should be your passion, so you should consistently be replacing the weakest piece in your portfolio with something better. If you have 50 mediocre pieces but your competition has 20 curated pieces specific to our style and quality, I will likely move them to the hiring manager for review. If you are not at the Naughty Dog level now, that is perfectly okay. I am willing to take a risk on talent that has potential, works to make small consistent changes, and demonstrates a willingness to learn and be mentored. Plenty of people, including here at 80 Level, would love to give you feedback on your portfolio if you ask nicely.