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June 24
2018

ISSUE

Summer 2018

Creative Recruitment in Today’s VFX Industry

By LEAH JAIKARAN

Leah Jaikaran, Head of Creative Resources, Spin VFX

“Anyone can buy the best and fastest computers, but our not-so-secret sauce is in our team.”

—Neishaw Ali, President, Spin VFX

Welcome to the first installment of VFX Voice’s occasional column, VFX Careers. Each column will explore a different set of considerations for global VFX professionals. This issue’s column discusses the employer/studio view from Leah Jaikaran, Head of Creative Resources at Spin VFX , Toronto, Canada.

ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ARTIST COMMUNITY

Our rules of engagement with the global VFX community are a fundamental part of our process, and require a multi-pronged recruitment strategy that focuses on the artist experience. This process includes investment in recruitment technology and maintaining a digital presence, as well as hosting job fairs, studio tours and networking events, navigating the immigration landscape, and growing our Reel & Resume Workshop/SPINternship Program.

Spin VFX President Neishaw Ali often says that “anyone can buy the best and fastest computers, but our not-so-secret sauce is in our team. They are our most valuable asset and they are independently driven, so our unique challenge is to provide a positive, diverse cultural environment that is candid. This is why four years ago we implemented our open-book management style of leadership, wherein we share with our staff our financial successes, as well as our tough months. This way, they always know the team’s score.”

We believe that our artists need to reconcile their personal vision as it relates to their career goals and family lifestyles when deciding to join our studio. With this in mind, each candidate not only meets with our Recruitment Team, but also their potential direct supervisor, teammates and most often Neishaw herself. We want all candidates to get to know Spin VFX personally and anticipate our company culture and code of ethics. Not everyone is a fit for our existing culture, nor are we a fit to everyone’s needs. We believe that our recruitment system allows for all of the voices to be heard in this decision-making process.

In keeping with this, the artist will be taken through a “day-in-the-life” of the role they are interviewing for. We share details about our workflow and the elements of our company that make us unique, such as the talented team, our year-end Spin Awards for Creative Excellence Gala (known as the “SAKE Awards”), and our various sports teams that compete with other VFX studios across our city. We get to know more about their unique skills, their passions and inspirations, and create a career plan as part of their journey with us.

RECRUITMENT PROCESS

Our primary and most effective recruitment investment has been our Recruiter Seat on LinkedIn. Not only do we post our active roles, but we engage with the community and have personal online conversations with both active and passive candidates. Artists around the world are active in several online communities, and LinkedIn has proven to be a great repository of talent for us to engage with, often in real-time.

We have also been able to utilize social media as a tool to develop our brand by promoting the culture of the studio, showcasing engagement initiatives, spotlighting artists and interacting with our fans and followers.

Another key component of our recruitment process is our annual Spin Roadshow, which takes us across North America. Job seekers who meet with us can expect to speak with senior members from Spin VFX. We want potential employees to understand who we are, and we invite those that are interested to come in for a studio tour as a follow up. This method has proven effective for not only attracting highly talented VFX artists, but also for ensuring that they have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with our studio before choosing to join us.

Visual effects artists at work at Spin VFX. (Photo: Sandy MacKay)

COMMUNITY EVENTS

Over the years, our VFX team has attended numerous recruitment events such as the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International, Effects Montreal, and the Ottawa Animation Festival. We also take part in Computer Animation Studios of Ontario (CASO) events, SIGGRAPH, The ZBrush Summit and the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference, which allows us to gain insight into new trends while networking with other experts in our field.

Additionally, part of our philosophy at Spin VFX allows for our employees to act as brand ambassadors and take an active part in recruitment. We often have a presence at events that are not necessarily recruitment-focused, but a great place to meet talent, such as Monsterpalooza in California, and a variety of Comic-Cons.

INTEGRATION OF INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS

A key part of our international recruitment strategy is our welcome package, which helps international hires familiarize themselves with our company, our city and local attractions. Our package includes suggested neighborhoods, transit information, schools/daycares and other necessities in the community. We work with a team of knowledgeable lawyers and immigration specialists to help simplify the process of relocating talent from  across the globe to our Toronto studio. Whether working through LMIA, NAFTA, or a variety of work permits, we recognize this undertaking as an investment in our studio.

REEL & RESUME WORKSHOP

In 2016, we launched our first Reel & Resume Workshop, which has evolved into an annual initiative with multiple workshops. Each year we invite various levels of talent into the studio to undergo best practices training. We share industry tips and tricks for showcasing your digital work, followed by a presentation on resume and interviewing techniques. Attendees are given the opportunity to meet one-on-one with industry experts who review attendees’ work and provide real-time feedback on improvements to best promote the artist’s skill set. This has the added value of connecting our tenured artists with new and emerging talent so that they can build independent relationships. Participants then meet one-on-one with a member of our Recruitment Team to have their resume reviewed and participate in mock interviews. We have hired several talented artists and forged relationships with future applicants as a result of our Workshops.

SPINTERNSHIP

While our Reel & Resume Workshop is open to the broad community, no matter where an artist desires to work, it has lent much success to our formalized internship program which we have fondly coined “SPINternship.” We developed and implemented this program to attract new graduates, build relationships with various post-secondary institutions (locally and internationally), and encourage our internal experts to mentor emerging talent. Our program is a four-month paid internship that takes interns through department-specific trainings, lunch-and-learn sessions, master classes, team building events, and prepares them for full-time positions.

Over the last couple of years, 90% of our interns received and accepted full-time offers to join Spin VFX on a permanent basis upon completion of the SPINternship term.


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