24 May GREE’s HR lead Libby Wolfensperger on recruitment best practices
By Pocket Gamer
Libby Wolfensperger is a global HR veteran with over 15 years experience in the rapidly changing wireless industry.
Prior to GREE, she worked for Vodafone in Japan, managing the Asia Pacific territory for 5 years.
Libby has been with GREE for 6 months and has an enormous passion for the gaming business.
Pocket Gamer: Tell us a little about GREE. What do you guys do and what are you looking for when it comes to new staff?
Libby Wolfensperger: GREE is a global mobile social gaming company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan with 11 offices worldwide including San Francisco, Vancouver, Seoul, and London.
I currently head up HR and recruiting for our San Francisco office, where we are looking for talent all across the board – from engineers to designers, marketing, product managers, and beyond.
At GREE, our goal is simple: we want to make great games. We invest all our resources into this and as a team, we strive to deliver best-in-class content and gaming experiences to users all over the world.
What are the main characteristics you look for in a candidate who is trying to enter the mobile gaming space?
Besides the obvious skillsets necessary to perform the job, I think it is just as important, if not more, to look at a candidate’s soft skills and emotional intelligence. These are crucial in my opinion because they say a lot about a person’s attitude towards work and how he/she will contribute to the company.
For instance, their ability to adjust and adapt beyond their industry experience will show how flexible they are willing to be in moments of uncertainty or growth.
How collaborative they are with other teams is also key, especially in gaming, where the success of a product is truly a cross-departmental effort.
In this space specifically, people who can intrinsically make connections within the business and those who really understand both personal and professional interconnectivity will excel.
Unlike the traditional workplace, the mobile gaming industry is comprised of lots of young, growing companies that encourage and require cross-functional work so individuals who don’t just identify with a single group and are willing to go beyond their niche, thinking strategically on a connection level, will have a much more successful experience.
What advice can you give to people who are trying to start a career in mobile gaming who may not have the experience?
Having a fundamental understanding and passion for free-to-play gaming can sometimes stand out more than a candidate’s experience, since enough interest can ultimately translate into expertise.
The beauty of mobile gaming is that a diversity of backgrounds can actually be beneficial and often celebrated – whether the individual comes from traditional gaming, entertainment, or other areas of tech.
What is most important is how they can use these experiences and creativity in different ways when approaching the art of game-making and beyond. At GREE specifically, we absolutely look for talent that will not only help grow the company but also the audience that plays our games, and this entirely depends on how creative you are willing to get with your experiences, regardless of background.
People often don’t take risks when it comes to their application or resume because it is safer to stick to the norm. Do you have any advice on how to differentiate yourself without being too extravagant?
Individual contributions are often difficult to see from resumes but play a crucial role in deciding what sets one candidate apart from another. What is your differentiator? What role did you play in the project? What makes you interesting?
It’s easy to include everything you have done as a group on your resume but what the hiring manager wants to see is how you have and will contribute to the company. Especially in mobile gaming, where an individual’s contribution as part of a larger team largely affects the end-product, your personal successes, regardless of size, can speak volumes.
Additionally, your resume tells your ‘past’ story but you are responsible of speaking to your future. People are often too focused on talking about what they have done in the past, but not what they want to do in the future.
It is important to balance the information that is on your resume with what you are capable of doing as part of the new team.
When resumes have objectives – a one sentence goal of what you want your future to hold, the employer will know right off the bat whether or not they can meet and grow your needs with no wasted time.
I always advise my candidates to come into an interview prepared to discuss why you are looking for a change and how this change aligns with and motivates your one-liner goal. Individuals who are clear about their goals and can see life beyond just one or two steps in their career, will likely make stronger, confident, and more meaningful connections and decisions.
You never want to be perceived as “shopping for what the best steak in the house is” – know what you want and vocalise it.
Lastly, people often include things such as hobbies or interests on their resume. We are in the mobile gaming industry, so talk about it. We are much more interested in learning about what mobile games you are playing and why, than your love of hiking (although we appreciate it!)
Include it in your resume and talk about it during your interview – it can open the door to great conversation which also demonstrates your ability to connect and be part of a team.
What should candidates expect from the mobile gaming industry that may be different from traditional gaming and/or other industries?
Mobile gaming is both interesting and challenging because of its incredibly fast speed. What has happened in mobile gaming over the past two years is what it took the traditional video games industry 20+ years to accomplish.
As technology evolves, the speed of change gets faster, so we need people who can keep up, if not surpass, this evolution. Flexibility and adaptability are key. Thinking ahead and having a vision will make a candidate shine!
Any final words of advice?
Always keep your mind open to new opportunities and make sure to treat any conversation or introduction as a potential opportunity. Maintain a good attitude because it is a small industry and you never know what will happen in the future, even if there are roles in the near term that may not be appealing, your network can open new doors down the line.
Remember that your resume is tells the story of your past, so make sure you can confidently talk to your future and your capabilities.
Finally, to reiterate, if you love gaming, don’t be scared to express it. Talk about your favourite games and why you play them, why you spend hours on one but not another.
There is no such thing as being too passionate about games – show off your knowledge (and high scores!).
You can see GREE’s open positions here.