How to Land that Game Sound Design Job
Updated: Mar 11
When game developer Corey Warning of Jumpdrive studios recently needed a sound designer for their project, he posted their opening for contract sound design work at numerous places around the internet and directly solicited some others. Corey was surprised (or disappointed?) enough in the responses to his job posting that he wrote a piece for gamasutra to share some of his thoughts of what it’s like to be on the hiring side of the equation, and provided some important information you should keep in mind if you want to get that next game audio design job. I’ve summarized his points to the following suggestions for those of you who find yourselves responding to job postings for game audio sound design:
1) Read the job posting completely and carefully!
One of Corey’s biggest complaints (and the reason for many submissions going to the “delete” pile) would have been painfully easy for the senders to fix: read the instructions and do what they say. If the request asks for links to sample work, provide a link to sample work. If it asks for sound design, provide sound design. More than half his respondents didn’t follow the basic requests outlined in the RFP (request for proposal). If a potential sound designer doesn’t properly follow the first instructions they’re given, that doesn’t give a lot of confidence they’ll do well on the job.
2) Don’t make the potential client have to go hunting for your sample work.
Provide a clear, unambiguous link to what you want them to listen to. Corey found some submitters just gave a link to an unorganized dropbox of .wav files. People like Corey are busy and won’t take the time to click on more than one or two (if that). Not only does providing a clear link to your demo content make their job easier, it also ensures that they’ll hear exactly what you want them to.
3) Write a custom response.
Write your reply to the sound design job posting after you spend a few minutes doing simple research about the company and/or game. If your submission reads like a ‘cut and paste’ submission, it will get a cut-and-paste reply—that is, it will be deleted. If you put effort into crafting a tailor made reply, it also speaks to your own work ethic. If you do the minimum effort in writing the cover email, do you want the message “I do minimum effort” to really be the impression you make?
4) If the job is for sound effects, don’t apply as a composer.
Newsflash: when someone requests a sound designer, they want a sound designer. (see #1). While it is good to form new connections and relationships, the odds of you getting a sound design gig when you are a composer with no experience doing sound design are tiny. Not only are you inexperienced in the primary aspect of the job, but they know that’s not your passion.
Related newsflash: Sound Design jobs don’t magically morph into composition jobs. Corey complained that about half the emails he got in response to his posting were from composers, the majority of whom didn’t do sound design.
Submitting for a job you aren’t really interested in or qualified for wastes the time of the poster—again, is that the first impression you want to make with a new potential client?
Corollary point: If you're a composer and want to compose music for video games, practice sound design as well. Although Corey's job was for a sound designer only, for many games, especially mobile or tablet games, game companies often want a single person to do both music and sound design. So exercise those sound design chops and make yourself more marketable
5) Do something that stands out.
If you have time, try taking some footage--maybe something from their web site, kickstarter page, etc and doing a sound design treatment for it. Corey was impressed by a reply that said they loved the game concept and they’d have something to show (audio replacement for their video) in a week. And a week later, it arrived. That not only shows off sound design prowess, but also the ability to create a schedule, work to it and deliver on time. Sneaky, huh!
Coda #1: guess which sound designer got the gig… yep, it was a sound designer named Nick the one who, unsolicited, did the SFX replacement.
Coda #2: Turns out Corey had met Nick at the airport on the way to the prior GDC and had introduced himself after overhearing him telling someone about the local gaming community. So:
6) Always keep your ears open.
Be wonderful to everyone you meet, for you never know if you’ll be working with them in the future.
Head on over to Gamasutra to read the full article.