Name: Ju Shim
Title: Talent Acquisition Manager
Developer: Avalanche Studios
What differentiates Avalanche from other games studios?
Even though our studios are located in different countries, many areas are the same whether you work in Stockholm or New York. We offer an environment where work-life balance is taken seriously. One way to realise this is to promote sane working hours and offer everyone 25 vacation days from their first day of employment.
You also get to work in a flat organisation where your thoughts and ideas are heard. There are no walled offices or closed doors at Avalanche Studios. Everyone, including our co-founders and managers, are seated in an open-floor plan with plenty of movement to support creative work with ever-changing needs.
With such a flat structure, it’s important for us to promote alternative development paths for our employees and give our specialists the same opportunities to grow as our leaders. Avalanche Studios is a privately funded, fully independent studio with low turnover and a high percentage of senior staff. We work with both big licences and self-developed IPs, both on multiformat triple-A games and mobile.
How many staff are you currently looking to take on?
In New York, we are full speed ahead with our projects and currently looking for talented programmers and artists for our triple-A projects. We will also add to our QA and production teams during the coming months. Our target in growth may take us past 80 people at that studio. In Stockholm, we are currently at 160 staff, and are not actively looking to grow at this point. But we are always interested to hear from talented people that may help us to improve further.
What perks or privileges are available staff at the studio?
Our benefits are above and beyond industry standards. We offer an eight-hour work day with limited overtime. In addition, we offer all our employees five weeks of paid vacation time, which includes a two-week summer holiday break when the entire company shuts down.
Then, we come back and share our stories, which brings us closer together and opens our eyes to the diversity of our company. We also offer 100 per cent company paid benefits and present opportunities to our employees to work in both our New York and Stockholm studios.
What should aspiring developers do with their CV to get to an interview?
They should check out our website and apply. They should also write a great cover letter explaining why they want to join us and what talent and experiences they can bring to the Avalanche family. A reel and/or portfolio are also recommended.
Who is the best interviewee you have ever had, and how did they impress you?
The best interview I’ve had so far at Avalanche Studios was a programmer candidate. He didn’t have that much work experience, but had a solid education in games. What impressed me the most was that he really did his homework before we spoke. He genuinely had interest in our studio and projects. Through his excitement and passion for our industry and for Avalanche Studios, my own fire was actually fuelled. I want to hire more people just like this enthusiastic programmer. He put a huge smile on my face and I’m sure he could see it even through our phone call.
And who was the worst?
I find the worst interviewees to be those who come across as lacking in passion. They may not know anything about our company or our games, which I think is the minimum a candidate should prepare for any interview with a developer.
What advice would you give jobseekers for a successful interview at Avalanche?
Do your homework on the company and the key leaders. LinkedIn is the professional equivalent to Facebook, so start there. During the interview, be yourself and try to relax. If you really know how to do your job and are confident of your experiences, interviewing should feel natural.
If your studio has recruited talent internationally, what was the process like for your studio and for the applicant?
We welcome talent from all over the world, and as a natural consequence, we deal with a lot of visas and immigration paperwork. For those candidates that are in need of a visa in order to work at either of our studios, I, along with our HR team, ensure that the candidate is literally walked through each step of the visa process as well as guiding them on all matters related to relocation. We have been successful staffing up both our studios with a diverse group of people from all over the world, so we take this aspect of talent acquisition very seriously.
How have your recruitment needs changed today?
Right now we are focused on candidates with console experience, as we are mostly known for developing on console platforms.
However, we are also shifting our focus to other markets such as mobile in order to compete in new markets and to broaden our customer base. So with that in mind, we may also have to focus on hiring talent with well-rounded experience with other platforms as well.
What area of the industry needs more investment?
We need more investment in people. Develop people’s skill sets with the right training, education and mentorships as people are the most important investment to any company. With new markets and new business models, employees are feeling the stress and strain of having to keep up in all aspects of development. We simply need to do our part, by investing in their skills, their talents and their wellbeing.