Most competitive or popular specializations?

Hello! I was wondering if anyone has insight into which specializations in tech art are the most popular or competitive to get into.

The reason I ask is because I’m getting interviews, but hiring managers are looking for more of a clear specialization. I’m interested in focusing on rigging or shaders and have some experience in both, but honing one right now seems like the best use of my time for landing a job.

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It’s difficult to say without more detail. But I don’t think that’s the right question right now. Plus, it depends on the type of company or projects you’re aiming to work on. And it depends on your own interests and aptitudes.

When you say something like this, I imagine there is more to the story. You are heavily summarizing a complex social interaction. And even if every hiring manager you’ve spoken to said that exact same thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s why they didn’t hire you.

That could be polite short form for, “your reel isn’t good enough, keep trying.” Which means the answer might not be “specialize”. The answer might be to get some trusted feedback on how you can improve your demoreel. (And specializing might be one potential answer! Or maybe you just need a talented friend who can help fill in some parts that aren’t currently working, like animation, rendering, or even video editing.)

Perhaps you have some industry friends you trust. Or a small Discord community. Or you could post it here, if you’re willing. Maybe it isn’t your demoreel! Whatever the reason they are saying that to you, my advice is to seek out trusted feedback. You should not necessarily take feedback you get in an interview at face value.

Thank you for your response!

That could be polite short form for, “your reel isn’t good enough, keep trying. ” Which means the answer might not be “specialize”.

Wow I never thought of this! I’ve gotten feedback where I need more experience, don’t have the right skillset for what a company needs in that moment, or even just I haven’t worked with the specific kinds of projects they are considering (i.e. XR vs. games), which are more direct and understandable. Telling me to “specialize” and not really mean it strikes me as a red flag, especially in that a hiring manager may not be honest with candidates. I don’t think I will trust that kind of advice anymore because it’s too vague, thank you for alerting me to this.

I’ll roll with shaders right now because I have a very visual portfolio in addition to CS and Art degrees.

EDIT: grammar

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This isn’t a red flag. The hiring process is a defensive filter for the company. They are not a coach or mentor for applicants. (Plus they may very well have honestly meant “specialize”. I’m saying you probably shouldn’t be drawing any life-changing conclusions from what a stranger tells you in an adversarial social situation.)

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I agree that the hiring process is a defensive filter for the company and that they’re not intending to be mentors. I disagree that this isn’t a red flag considering they’re representing their personal values at a glance; they may move companies and paths can cross again. They could very well be telling the truth, but it’s also concerning to me that this could still be an excuse. Even “we decided to move forward with other candidates” makes more sense morally instead of “specialize”, which is actionable feedback for someone looking to improve. I am happy to agree to disagree though, as I really appreciate the other points you’ve brought up.

That being said, I should have also mentioned that I have gotten the advice to specialize from people I do trust in addition to some hiring managers offering this as feedback. I’m happy to continue this over Slack DMs and show you my resume to give you insight as to why I’m trying to make a solid decision sooner than later (plus I can also flex around once I am more stable in this industry).

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