JOB APPLICATION TIPS

Demo Reels

  • Keep it one minute or under.
  • Show your best work first. Most demo reels are viewed for 10 seconds or less on average.
  • Don’t just show your work, show your problem-solving process.
  • Make it easy for them to find your contact information.
  • Don’t be too wordy in the demo reel. Explain your projects in more detail in the comments or video description.
  • Make sure it is clean, easy to look at, and does not detract from your images.
  • Do not include a piece that is not your best work. Your worst piece will be the one they remember.
  • Music is not important; most HR people will have the sound turned off anyway. If you include music, keep it conservative and not distracting.
  • H.264 compression is the highest quality video for the smallest file size.

 

Cover Letters

  • Keep as short as possible while still highlighting why you are the best candidate for the position. Try to keep within 2-3 short paragraphs.
  • Design and format is important. Include a header with your name and contact info, do not indent paragraphs, address the addressee with a colon and not a comma, never use “Mrs.” even if you know they are married, do not say “To Whom It May Concern”, and use a clean serif font if the cover letter is printed, sans serif if online. Never use Times New Roman either way, it looks default and thoughtless. Also include a signature with your name printed underneath. Look up a cover letter template as reference.
  • If you can get permission from a professor or industry professional to say that they recommend you, consider opening your cover letter with something along the lines of, “Brent Adams, founder of the BYU Center for Animation, has recommended that I apply to this internship”. It is attention-grabbing and sets you apart from other applicants.
  • A larger font size (like 16 pt) is less overwhelming to look at. Remember that the person reading your cover letter has had to read 30 cover letters in just the last hour, so they naturally wouldn't want to read an essay. They will like it more if your letter is is short, has larger font, and is easy to look at. In fact, much of the time, reviewers will look at your resume first; thus, if the cover letter seems too overwhelming, they may not even read it at all.
  • If the cover letter will be viewed online, keep the font around size 16 and do not go over 3 font types or 3 font sizes-- this keeps things streamlined.
  • They are looking for personality, so be genuine as you write. Be kind, considerate, yet confident.
  • Get your letter proof-read by someone else. You would be surprised at how many little mistakes can escape your own proof-reads.
  • Be certain that you got the studio’s name spelled and referred to correctly (i.e., "DreamWorks” instead of "Dream Works", or “Blue Sky” instead of “Bluesky”).

 

Resumes

  • HR people look at resumes for 7 seconds on average. Make sure information is easily accessible. If you skim your resume for 7-10 seconds, can you still get a good feel of the presented information?
  • People expect good document design. Make sure there are “access points”, or places for the eye to easily enter the document, so that they can immediately identify what is or isn’t important.
  • Do NOT go over one page. Chances are they will not look at both pages if you have more than one.
  • Do NOT put the name of the church on your resume. You should not put anything onto your resume that they cannot legally ask you in an interview (this also includes marital status, if you have children, etc.). Do put missionary service on your resume, but call it "2 year volunteer work" (or some variation thereof) with a "Volunteer Organization". HR people are smart, they will know that you served an LDS mission if you're coming from BYU with a "2-year" or "18 month" volunteer position on your resume-- but they won't legally have to put your resume aside.
  • Make the descriptions on your resume very, very brief. Do not exceed 1-2 sentences/bullets per job title.
  • Never say "responsible for" when describing responsibilities. They are not interested in a job description. Give them descriptions of the qualities you have as described through the job experience (for example, do not say "responsible for designing game characters", but instead say "created the concept for the characters, assets, and layouts for multiple games"). Tell them WHY you have leadership and teamwork skills, don't just tell them you have it. 
  • For the animation industry, having a little bit of color can help stand you apart. A soft red is a good color to consider to help you stand out. Yellows or oranges are also good options if used only in accents. Do not use obnoxious, neon colors. In general, keep the design balanced, conservative, clean, and interesting.
  • Do not include an “Objective” section; it is redundant and takes up space.
  • Avoid unsupported claims, such as "successfully taught 100 students" or "authored The Universe's most popular article". That is tooting your own horn without any backup evidence. When you give those claims, make sure you have actual evidence and use that in the sentence instead of using vague phrases like "successfully" or "most popular".
  • Make sure to include your year/semester in the program. They will take your year status and experience into consideration (i.e. So you aren’t being held to a senior’s standards if you are just a sophomore).
  • Don't use passive words, use strong action verbs. Words like "helped" or "familiar with" are weak; strong words are "designed", "created", "educated", "cultivated", "developed", "implemented", etc. 
  • Using variation in text colors between black and gray can help separate out blocks of text. (Ex: make titles black, and descriptions gray)
  • People (especially animators) are visual people. Instead of including program names, you may consider using program logos (such as Houdini’s logo, Maya’s logo, etc.)
  • Items close together appear to be related to one another. Do not group items that don’t need to be grouped together.
  • The resume should NOT feel overwhelming. The HR person has likely been looking at resumes every 10 seconds for several hours, and if yours is overwhelming at all, they are much less likely to read it (or want to read it).
  • If you choose to include your GPA, make sure you label it out of 4.0. Many schools, especially on the East Coast, have a 5.0 GPA scale and therefore may make your GPA look much worse than it is. (Ex: “3.7/4.0”)
  • If you have done anything that you might label as “Community Service”, find a different wording for it. In many states, the term “community service” is more associated with government-mandated service rather than acts of philanthropy or altruism.

 

Websites

  • Be sure to keep your online presence updated.
  • The purpose of your website includes the following: to be able to send a link to your website with internship or job applications, to give to faculty in case they want to recommend you to someone they know, or to give to various people that may be interested in your work or be potential hirers. Design your website accordingly; make it attractive, professional, and easy to find the information that potential hirers will need.
  • Some pages you might choose to include in your website may be: Demo Reel, Portfolio, Resume, and Contact Me. If you are a mostly on the 3D side, you may consider making a separate link on your portfolio page that shows some of your drawing/design capabilities.
  • Get accounts in multiple places to increase your searchability. Some places you might consider are LinkedIn, ArtStation, Vimeo, YouTube, Behance, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr. Try to avoid DeviantArt as it can diminish your credibility.
  • Choose a clean, easy-to-look at design that gives immediate access to your demo reel on your home page. Make it easy for HR to find what they are looking for.
  • Make your page easy to navigate. This may include adding multiple links to the same place as people will often miss what you may think is obvious.
  • Have several people test your website. Pay attention to what they gravitate towards and/or completely miss.
  • Make your contact information and resume easy to find.
  • If you choose to include a short description or biography, include your current year in the program so that they can accurately assess your skills and not hold you to a higher standard than you are at. Keep blocks of text very short.
  • On many website builders, you can choose to include tags or search terms to increase your website’s searchability on popular search engines. Add as many tags as you can so that you can be found easily via websearch.
  • Try not to use more than 2 accent colors, 2 fonts, or 2 font sizes (as a general rule).
  • Use the same rules of composition on your website that you have learned from animation. You can use lines of text to lead the eye to the most important videos, images, or links; you can use brighter colors to draw the eye to certain parts of the page, or moving graphics to make certain things stand out.

 

Be sure to visit the Stay Connected page to contact people in the industry who may be doing what you want to do. Ask them for advice and have them review your application. The more eyes you can get on your application before you send it in, the better!