I understand one should never jump over the recruiter to the hiring manager. But is contacting the department people via Linkedin and ask for pointers ok (after being in touch with the recruiter)? Since knowing what they’re working on exactly could help my direction in submitting a demo.

Cotton Brooks, from the movie Dodgeball, says ALT

Reaching out to a random senior developer via linkedin specifically to inquire about a job opportunity is certainly a gamble. I would advise against it for a number of reasons.

A panning shot of many Agent Smiths from The Matrix: RevolutionsALT

First, game studios are often pretty big. I’m only one of many at my experience level at my studio. The bigger the studio, the lower your chances of actually guessing the right person to reach out to correctly. What’s more likely to happen is that you’ll cold call someone on LinkedIn at random and they’ll either ignore it or say “Sorry, I don’t know anything about that”. Your chances of cold calling the correct hiring manager who could answer your questions is quite low.

Jeff Goldblum makes the "lips are sealed" hand motionALT

Second, we’re all under NDA. I couldn’t give you any details about what I’m working on even if I wanted to. The stuff I’m working on hasn’t been announced yet and is nowhere near ready for prime time. If you manage to get far enough to talk to me in an interview setting, you’ll already have signed the necessary NDA for me to talk about the things I’m working on. Once you’ve signed it, I could probably talk your ear off.

Keegan-Michael Key shouts "I did not realize that was an option."ALT

If I were in your position, I would instead suggest two courses of action. First, you should prepare your submission materials with a strong focus on the job description. The job description should already contain all of the relevant information that you need in order to tailor your portfolio and resume. It will describe the duties a new hire will be expected to take on, and it will have a list of requirements that should map to those duties. Second, you should reconsider the purpose of reaching out via LinkedIn. Rather than trying to use it as a means of getting ahead in a particular job search, I would use it to find a mentor to help me level up my relevant development skills. Find someone who’s open to dialogue and ask them to teach you the things they wish they knew at your point in your career. Build an actual relationship that you cultivate over time. It’s worth it.

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