Getting a Flash Dev Job in NYC (Part 1)

Interviewing for a new job is a scary thing and nothing I write here will take that all away, but hopefully some of these tips will help you be OK with being scared. It’s part of the process. Since I’ve been on both sides of the table, I might be able to provide a unique insight into both being chosen for a job as well as choosing to take the right job for you. This post will be broken up into multiple parts, starting with just getting the interview.

Before I begin though, there are a few disclaimers. No company names will be used here as I don’t think it would be fair to divulge anyone’s process. I’ll just note that every company does it differently and the process depends a lot on the company and the people involved in the recruiting process. Everything written here is based solely on my experiences and all opinions are based on me and not any company that I worked for or interviewed with. My experiences and tips are based on someone looking for a job specifically as a flash developer in New York City where there is a plethora of companies that you could work for as a flash developer, so I have no idea what it’s like to find a job in a different field here or elsewhere in the world.

Getting the Interview

1.  Know what you want to do.

It’s tough to find a good job as a designer AND developer. From an employer’s point of view, it’s hard to trust that someone will be amazing at both. If that’s your goal, then you might have to go in as one primarily and prove that you are capable of the other. That being said, if you want to do both, it’s not impossible to find, just be prepared that a lot of companies that you will want to work for will expect you to be great at one of the two and may see your multi-talent as indecisiveness. Also, as a developer or designer, you will be expected to be curious and willing to explore every aspect of your discipline. It’s tough to be familiar with every aspect of design AND development. As a result, I decided to look for a job that was more on the development side of things. The decision was based on knowing that it was going to be tough finding a job at a company that I wanted to work for where I would be responsible for both as well as figuring out that I’m stronger in development than I am in design. It was a tough decision to come to, but so far it’s not one that I regret. In a way it actually helped. it helped me decide that I wanted to develop for a visual output and set me on the track of finding a job where that’s what the employer was looking for as well. They say that it’s tough to find a person that can code, but also has an eye for design. Thanks RIT.

2. Linked In is your best friend

Linked In has been an amazing resource for researching the companies that I want to work for, researching the actual people that I could be working for and researching the work and background of the people that are doing the job I want. One thing that I would often do is find out who built a website that I really admire (usually through the FWA or Communication Arts) and then immediately go to Linked In to see first where the company is located, see if I know anyone there, see if I’m linked to anyone there, and then check out the individual’s profiles that are currently there as Flash or Interactive developers. If I can get that far, I start checking out those other developer’s websites and see what their capabilities are.

This bit of stalking accomplishes a few things. I can see if the company is located in NYC, I can see what companies people came from and where they went after being employed at that company (if that kind of thing matters to you), and I can determine if the stalked individuals have a similar skill set or background as myself. For me, that’s the most useful part of this. If there is something that I should know or be on top of, it will be listed on the developer’s profile or website and it’s something that I can either check off as something that I can do or potentially add to my list of things to learn or at least look in to. Another great thing that Linked In has done for me is provide a way to connect to people whose work you admire. On multiple occasions, I’ve written messages to other developers letting them know that I’m into what they do and ask if their company is hiring. I haven’t come across anyone that was dick and they’ve always given me the name of someone to contact directly that is involved with recruiting for their company. It’s even led to a few interviews. People like to be admired. Even if you don’t get an interview right away, making initial contact could lead to a friendship or professional working relationship later on.

3. Work your connections

Talk to old professors, friends, ex-coworkers, alumni job placement people, everyone (except for anyone that might still be connected to your current employer if that’s an issue). Companies like to recruit people that are recommended by someone that they know. I personally have had at least 5 potential opportunities begin because I was either recommended or because I had some sort of connection to one of their current employees, whether I’ve ever met them personally or not. And I was offered jobs by half of them. If you went to school with someone that works at a company you like, send a message through Linked In.

4. Monitor your Online Presence

When looking for a job, make sure that you are aware of what comes up when you’re googled. Whether it’s legal or not, anyone can google you. Try it yourself. If something comes up that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, do something about it if you can. Most of the times its just wacky facebook images that someone tagged, but luckily you have some control over that. The other side of this is to make try to make yourself more visible in your field. Tweets, blog entries, and message board postings that reflect your involvement in the community can definitely have a good impact in the mind of an employer. It shows that you are dedicated, thoughtful, have communication skills, and  have passion for what you do and what they will be hopefully paying you to do. A lot of studios have company blogs that they like to have their employees blog on, so it might also be something that they are looking for.

5. Be Persistent

On delicious, I have all the companies that I would want to work for bookmarked and I made it my duty to check every site every day. It got to the point that I could tell when there was even the slightest update. Over the months, I actually witnessed many sites go through a redesign. Besides keeping me up to date as to if those companies were hiring, it helped me learn more about the companies and the projects that they were outputting. Even now that I have a new job, I still check many of them out on a regular basis.

In addition, below are some resources that I consulted regularly to find the right job

  • craigslist – Most of the time, the jobs were duds, but every once in a while I found some amazing companies post there.
  • indeed – Updated frequently and syndicates job postings from all over the web. It also helps give you an idea of salary expectations.
  • The FWA – This had the most relevant jobs since a lot of the companies that posted were fwa winners and will continue to be once I get in there.
  • Krop – A lot of creative companies said that if they’re hiring, then it’ll be on Krop. You can also have relevant postings emailed to you when there is something new.
  • Twitter – Following your agency crushes on twitter allows you to see when they are hiring right away if they tweet it. It worked for me.
  • delicious – This was where I kept a list of companies whose websites I looked at daily to check their individual job postings.

The next part of the series will be about the interview process itself. Stay tuned and let me know if these help any of you out there.

Greg Kepler is an interactive developer at the Barbarian Group. He started as a design student graduating from RIT with a degree in New Media Design and Imaging in 2004 and fell in love with Flash. He worked for 4 years as a designer, developer, and interactive studio manager at Iomedia and moved on to the Barbarian Group in 2010 as an interactive developer where he tries to get his hands dirty with whatever technologies he can.

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  • What a coincidence, you’re the first person to ever comment on one of my blog posts. I’m glad that you’ll find a use for this. Look for part 2 up within the next few days. Let me know if there’s anything else that you’ve wanted to know.

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