The CEO of recently rebranded Identity Spark Natalie Griffith shares the importance of building your own personal reputation when hunting for a job
We all get caught up in those drunken new year’s eve reflections of what we’re doing with our lives. It’s no surprise that January is always a big month of change, especially in our careers.
Anyone looking to move through the games industry these days is luckier than ever. The resources available to learn about specific roles or hone your skills are now widespread, but while you can identify and improve those craft skills, it’s much harder to distinguish yourself from the pack in a more general sense.
Truly successful and fulfilled people don’t just wait for inspiration to strike. They get themselves out there, build their networks (digitally and IRL), follow trends, watch the news. But the main thing they do is think about their personal brand.
Branding is about more than just cosmetics, particularly with an individual. Of course it’s important to have a polished CV and an impressive portfolio but the ‘brand identity’ of you is what employers will ultimately buy into.
This is my 27th year in games. I could never have imagined my journey when I first started, and yet the story still seems to make some kind of sense in hindsight, almost as if it was planned.
Back in 1991 I was a lowly graphic designer on a subscription Nintendo magazine – my first foray into the industry. From there I took those design skills over to Codemasters to work on packaging. It was another design job, but now I was learning a little about where games came from too.
In 1995 I became the editor of Official Nintendo Magazine Australia. Journalism had never been on my radar, but by taking my design experience plus my more recent exposure to development, then adding the writing training I’d had in my very first pre-games job, it ended up as a perfect fit.
Five years of dealing with PRs on the magazine, and the next logical step (while it meant stepping away from my designer roots) was to cross to the other side of the phone, so I joined developer Blitz Games Studios to establish their marketing team.
As Blitz evolved so did my role and experience, but all stemming from my core ‘soft skills’ – the qualities that make up my personal brand – and after 12 years I went self-employed, first at a friend’s agency and now running my own.
I’ve suffered just as much crippling self-doubt and lack of direction as the next person along the way, but I’ve continued to build my own ‘personal brand’ values underneath, even if I didn’t always realise that’s what I was doing. And that’s what’s helped me make decisions and spot opportunities throughout my career. Without a sense of my own strengths, weaknesses, passions and motivations, any one of the turns I made could have led to a dead-end.
Of course, that summary makes it all sound like a really easy journey with new options dropping into my lap, but it’s taken effort and setbacks and determination throughout.
A strong brand identity takes the kernel of what makes a company special, shapes its story around its vision, and concisely communicates that in a way people can connect with and feel an affinity for. A personal brand is no different, and it’s what will give you the best foundation on which to sell yourself and make career decisions in future.
So don’t start your job hunt with a trawl through the recruitment ads – start it with you.