School of Motion

How to Get Hired: Insights from 15 World-Class Studios

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We asked 15 of the biggest studios in the world to share tips and advice on how to get hired as a motion designer.

What's your goal as a motion designer? To become a full-time freelancer? Work on world-class work? While we certainly love the freelance lifestyle, many motion designers dream of working at a world-class studio, and we don't blame them.
Whether it's a top-notch production company like Buck or a local advertising agency, a studio is a fantastic place to grow your skills and learn from artists who are more experienced than you. In fact, many of your favorite MoGraph celebrities work at studios full-time.
"Work hard, ask questions, listen, offer creative input, be a good team player, and show a desire to improve." - Buck
So instead of our normal freelance focus, we decided to change things up a bit and talk about what it takes to land a gig at a studio. No, we're not talking about short-term contracts, we're talking about what it takes to actually land a full-time job working at the studio of your dreams.
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But how are we ever going to get these insights? If only there was a company crazy enough to ask the world's best studios to share insights into their hiring process...

The Method: Obtaining Studio Insights

A while back the School of Motion team asked 86 of the biggest names in Motion Design to share advice for becoming better at their craft. The result was a 250+ page book called Experiment Fail Repeat. The overwhelmingly positive response from the community was humbling, so we thought it'd be fun to do a similar concept specifically targeted for getting hired at a studio.
The team came up with 10 questions that were specifically designed to share insights into the modern hiring practices of professional studios. Notable questions include:
  • What is the best way for an artist to get on your studio's radar?
  • What are you looking for when you review an artists' work that you are considering hiring full-time?
  • Does an art degree impact someone's chances of getting hired at your studio?
  • Are resumes still relevant, or do you only need a portfolio?
We then made a list of the biggest studios in the world and reached out to ask for responses. From Academy Award Winners to tech giants, we were delighted to hear back from some of the biggest studios in the world. Here's a quick list of the studios: Black Math, Buck, Digital Kitchen, Framestore, Gentleman Scholar, Giant Ant, Google Design, IV, Ordinary Folk, Possible, Ranger & Fox, Sarofsky, Slanted Studios, Spillt, and Wednesday Studio.
We then compiled the responses in a free ebook that you can download below. We hope that you enjoy the book as much as us.
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Download How to Get Hired: A Free Pocketbook

Just click the download button below to download the book. We hope you find the responses to be helpful and fun.
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Download How to Get Hired: A Free eBook for Motion Designers

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A Few Key Takeaways

We love doing projects like this because they often lead to responses that we weren't expecting. This project proved that to be true. Here are a few quick takeaways from the responses.

1. Portfolios Are More Important than Resumes

Across the board it seems like your portfolio and reel is your greatest asset for getting on the radar of your favorite studio. While many studios require that you submit a resume to get hired, most of them use a portfolio, not a resume, as the primary indicator of aptitude.
"A resume is nice if you have worked at some high profile shops, or for large clients, but a portfolio is king." - Spillt

2. Degrees Don't Matter to 66% of Studios

Out of all of the studios that we talked to only 5 of them said that a degree can help your chances of landing a job, and none of the studios said a degree has a major impact on your chances of landing a job at their studio.
This means that it is way more about your skills, not a degree, when it comes to landing your dream job. This is great news for people who are learning their skills from home, and bad news for expensive art colleges.
"Ultimately, capability is more important than pedigree." - Possible

3. Relationships Lead to Opportunity

One of the best ways to land a job at a studio is to have a relationship with someone who already works there.
"The best way to get on our radar is to have a personal relationship with a creative director or artist." - Digital Kitchen
Networking in the motion design world is easier than you think. Just go to a local meetup and make friends with fellow artists. There's also no shame in reaching out to an Art Director at your favorite company and asking if they would like to get some coffee. You'd be surprised at how many people will say yes!

4. Your Attitude is as Important As Your Skills

More studios said it was personality, not skills, that will help you succeed at their company. While skills are super important, it's just as import to be a good person to work with. Nobody likes a prideful know-it-all, no matter how beautiful your X-Particle renders are.
"We love working with humble people that bring a positive attitude to work every day! It sounds a bit plain, but this is such a huge thing when working on a team." - Google Design

5. Studios are Busy, So Follow Up

Studios are notoriously busy places. Many of the studios in the book mentioned that it is difficult to screen all of the applications in a timely manner. As such, many studios recommend following up with an application after you send it in. If you don't hear back, don't worry! Give it a couple weeks and reach out again.
If your skills aren't quite there, many studios will let you know. But don't get discouraged! If you don't get your foot in the door the first time, invest in your skills and apply again. We've seen artists completely transform their portfolios and skills in only a matter of months.
"Checking in every 8-12 weeks is normally a good timeframe, and not too stalker like!" - Framestore

6. 80% of Studios Will Check Your Social Media Accounts

We were really surprised to see how prevalent Social Media is in the hiring process for motion designers. Out of all of the studios surveyed, 12 said that they check social media before hiring someone, and 20% of the studios surveyed said that they have specifically NOT hired someone because of something they saw on social media. Think before you tweet folks!
"There are certain Twitter accounts that have dampened our enthusiasm to collaborate." - Giant Ant

Gain the Skills to Land Your Dream Job

Don't have the skills required to land a gig at your favorite studio? Don't worry! With enough practice anything is possible. If you ever want to level-up your MoGraph skills check out our courses here at School of Motion. Our world-class instructors are here to show you how to become a professional motion designer with in-depth lessons, critiques, and projects. No tricks and tips, just hardcore motion design knowledge.
Here's a quick overview of our custom-built class environment.
Hopefully you now feel inspired to land your dream job! If we can ever help you along the way, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Now go update your portfolio!