Are cover letters still a thing in 2023?
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Do you need a cover letter for your application in the GameDev industry?
Short answer: No, you don’t need one.
But there are a few situations when you might want to make one. So let’s check what those are:
- If the job opening requires providing a cover letter. Although recruiters might not have the time to read every cover letter they receive, they will dig them out and consider them when they have to decide between two strong job applicants. In addition, failing to provide a cover letter when stated that it’s mandatory will be considered a red flag in your application. Following the job opening requirements is always a good idea.
- Use a cover letter to express your personal brand. Maybe there are specific and unique things about you that won’t fit into your resume but might help you land the game industry job? In that case – make the cover letter. If you have unique motivations, or if you would like to highlight a specific aspect of your personality. It’s the best way to do that! If you feel that it would help you to stand out as a perfect candidate – please, make one!
When should you definitely not include a cover letter?
- A job opening specifically tells you not to.
I get it – sometimes you would like to show your dedication and that you really think seriously about the specific job. But suppose you decide to submit a cover letter even though the instructions said something opposite. In that case, the only signal you’re sending to the hiring manager is that you either can’t or don’t want to follow instructions.
- You really don’t have time, nor will to make one
Let’s think about a scenario where you don’t have the time to prep the perfect cover letter, and the job posting does not mention anything about it. In that case – don’t force it. It’s better to skip this element than to send something halfway done or based on a popular cover letter template. If you’re applying to multiple game studios, and you don’t feel like spending time on making a custom cover letter, don’t write something that you wouldn’t be proud of.
What are really significant elements you could add to your cover letter?
- You have vital information to share. It might be a job gap, a move, or a career shift – anything that you can’t go into depth about in your CV. Your cover letter is your opportunity to explain it (especially if it adds significant value to your application).
- A personal connection/referral. If you were introduced to the game company by a friend (who works there), mention it in your cover letter. A personal referral adds extra points to your application, so don’t miss the opportunity to say it.
- You have a relationship with the studio. Maybe you did an internship in the company? Or went to the lecture/speech presented by someone who works in the company, which changed the way you look at certain topics right now?
- You’re a long-time fan of their games. If you express that you have a piece of profound knowledge and passion for the type of games the studio is already making, you might score a few additional points as a job seeker.
Tips for creating a perfect cover letter for your game dev application
- Do your research. Check the game studio’s company website. Know everything there is to know about the company culture and the workplace you’re applying to. If you observe that corporate communication is written in a lighthearted way, if they seem to be humorous, funny, and friendly, don’t write a formal and overly stiff cover letter. Try to match the energy
- Pro tip: keep it brief. When it comes to good cover letters, one page is more than enough. In fact, the ideal length for a successful cover letter is between 250 and 400 words.
- Avoid generic phrases / cliches. Being a “great team player” or an “excellent communicator” is as insightful as stating that “you’re proficient with using your computer OS” – this isn’t going to get you very far. Instead, try to demonstrate your skills by referencing your experience. Do you see the difference between “I’m a fantastic communicator” and “I’m a terrific communicator, led a production team of +10 people, and released the game within the given deadline”?
- Ditch the passive voice. Use action verbs to highlight your accomplishments. Instead of saying “I was in charge of” or “I was responsible for,” use action verbs like “managed” or “delivered.”
- Try to incorporate as much of your personal brand as you can. Start with basic elements like making your professional cover letter cohesive graphically with the rest of your application. Use the same fonts, colors, and overall style.
- A bit of proofreading didn’t kill anyone. And can certainly help you out with your application. Use spell check tools like grammarly.
Do junior game developers need to write a cover letter?
I’m afraid they do more than anyone else. Since junior game developers usually don’t have prior game dev work experience, they need to use every tool in their arsenal to catch the hiring manager’s attention.
If you have next to no experience – sometimes it’s about personality and cultural fit to the potential employer that can make a difference. If you’re shifting career paths and if you worked in an entirely different industry, you can include transferable skills and which elements from your previous experience can impact and help you in your new role.
We hope that our guide to cover letters in gamedev was useful to you. And that it helped you with the dilemma that everyone has.
If you need any additional tips, or if you have any questions – remember to reach us!