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The Definitive Guide To Landing A Career In Animation (based on 3000+ job applications)

Let’s face it, starting a career in animation and motion design isn’t easy.

If you’re like the majority of applicants, you’ve probably turned in tens of CVs but had little in the way of positive responses, let alone a second interview

So what are the successful candidates doingthat you’re not?

To get your name ahead of the hundreds of others applying for that entry-level animation role, you’ll need a killer showreel, a commitment to lifelong education, a great personal marketing plan, and tangible experience.

After reviewing more than 3000 resumes for positions ranging from junior motion designers to creative directors during the past seven years, we’ve gathered a list of essential tips for candidates who want to work in animation and motion design.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to apply these learnings and put yourself in the box seat to get noticed, get interviewed, and get that job you’ve been dreaming about.


Want to stand out from the tens (or hundreds ...) of applicants gunning for that same role you're after?

Get the skills you need to land an animation job with Jumbla Academy.

Chapter 1: Why an awesome showreel beats a pretty CV

Literally nothing else is relevant if your showreel sucks.


Your CV won’t get a look-in if your showreel - the most tangible demonstration of your creativity and technical skill - is a fizzer.

Here’s the good news. These steps will help you fashion an attention-grabbing showreel and stand out from the crowd.

1.  Always put your best work at the start of your reel - and make sure you keep your second best piece for the end, to finish on strong note. Remember, every second needs the ‘wow’ factor.

2.  If you doubt whether a piece of work is reel-worthy, it’s probably not - take it out. Your reel says a lot about you and you shouldn’t include something you’re not 100 per cent happy with. 

3.  Although cutting to the beat and placing extra sound effects on your reel can be super badass, don’t rely too heavily on audio. Most viewers will mute it anyway because they’re in an office environment or have headphones and don’t want to be disturbed while listening to their current jam. 

4.  Your reel should be akin to an appetiser - you’ve got between 45 and 60 seconds to impress. Don’t waste it. 

5.  Avoid holding any one shot for too long - keep things moving. 

6.  It’s ok to create some exclusive pieces of work just for the reel... if they add value to the finished product. 

7.  Don’t rush it - take your time on the details. The rules of editing also apply to showreels.


All that matters is your work

“All that matters is your work,” Jumbla Head of Production & HR Steve Bradshaw said.

“That’s how you get your foot in the door, that’s how you get a job, that’s how you get freelance work - by showing off what you can do, what your capabilities are.

“Even if you’ve never worked in a studio or done any paid client work before, you’re starting from a good place if you have an amazing showreel.”

The takeaway - shelve your ideas of crafting a beautiful CV until you’ve put the work into your showreel.

It’s a sentiment shared by Jumbla Creative Director Cornel Swoboda.

“It will always be your showreel that gets you into the business in the first place,” he said.

“You should pay massive attention to it and not worry too much about gaps in your CV.”


Keep it tight and relevant

When a shortlist of potential interviewees hits the desk of Jumbla’s Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director Callan Woolcock, he looks for a short, sharp and stylistically-defined showreel to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role. 

“People looking at your showreel don’t always have much time, so you’ll need to grab their attention instantly,” Callan said. 

“I’d suggest putting the best stuff at the very start, cutting to the beat, and keeping it short - 45-60 seconds, max."

“If we can see that the artist has the ability to apply design and animation principles to their work in a visually satisfying way, more often than not they'll be shortlisted. We really want the designer to have a good sense of quality and understand what works well. 

“As for your CV, we'll look at it after your showreel because we're more interested in what you can create.” 

Applying for a job that requires skills that aren’t featured in your showreel? Jumbla Creative Director Oz Smith says you might want to consider a re-cut. 

“A key thing for a showreel is to show off all the capabilities you’ll be applying in a job,” Oz said. “If you can do something that’s relevant to a job you’re applying for but it’s not on your reel, you won’t get the call. 

“If you want to push yourself into a certain area of motion graphics, consider leaving out the kind of stuff you don’t want to be doing, and putting in the work that really matters. Choose what you include wisely.”

Chapter 2: Your CV still matters … here’s how to do it well

If you have a killer showreel but you’re still being knocked back for job interviews, it could be down to a barren or poorly-designed CV.

Yes, you need to put a lot of time and energy into your showreel, but once you’ve captured the hiring manager’s attention, it’s your CV that takes you from ‘candidate’ to ‘interviewee’.

“We'll only look at your CV if we like your showreel, but if I can see by the attached thumbnail that it’s a Word document in Times New Roman, I’ll probably move right on to the next applicant,” Callan said.

“We like to see CVs that are nicely designed, with a clean and crisp layout. You don't need any images, just some good typography is enough.”

Your CV is an opportunity to showcase your brand and communicate important personal information, like your:

  • Goals

  • Career objectives

  • Education

  • Previous employment

  • Capability using different software.

“You’ll also want to describe what you’ve done for each job listed,” Oz said.

“You need to stick in a potential employer’s mind - they want to know what your skillset is and what role role you took in any collaborative work.”


Stick to the script

While it’s good to include details of previous jobs, make sure they’re relevant - nobody wants to hear about the voluntary week you spent at a petting zoo back when you were 15 years old (unless you’re applying for a job at a petting zoo).

“Don’t add the three weeks you worked at the service station during summer break either. Only include things that are relevant,” Cornel said.

“If you don’t have anything, most employers will understand that graduates have just started their career.

“And don’t forget that you’re applying for a creative job, so avoid writing a stiff ‘businessy’ CV based on a Microsoft Word template. Instead, choose a nice font, use plenty of white space, go for some icons; make the whole thing pleasing to the eye.”

Steve says it’s vital to showcase what you’re actually good at. Don’t make the person reading your CV have to join the dots.

"Jumbla looks for a certain speciality - everyone here has something they’re really good at,” Steve said. “We still try to mentor and teach people all kinds of technical skills to develop our team into well-rounded motion graphics designers. But most people are hired because of their biggest strengths.

“Ask yourself - what is your speciality? You need to get that across in your CV and your showreel.”

One element of job readiness that many candidates overlook is industry knowledge. Oz says it’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse so you’re aware of what’s going on in the creative world.

“Technical aptitude is important, but so is demonstrating that you’re up-to-date with the latest trends and best studios,” he said.

“Trends are often technically driven, so having an overview of this will help your application too.”


Want to stand out from the tens (or hundreds ...) of applicants gunning for that same role you're after?

Get the skills you need to land an animation job with Jumbla Academy.

Chapter 3: Showcase your personal style

While we’re accustomed to the idea that businesses have a ‘brand’, we’re less inclined to think the same about ourselves. But the truth is that everyone - including you - has a brand, whether you’re aware of it or not.

Your personal brand manifests in your actions, your appearance, and importantly, in your design style.

You can use this to your advantage career-wise as a point of difference between you and ‘the others’.

“It’s important that designers have strong personal brand collateral,” Callan said.

“This means applying design knowledge to anything they use to promote themselves, including a showreel and CV.

“Having your own logo or brand-mark is a good start because it helps you stand out instantly and gives us a good sense of your design ability before we even look at your work or read your resume.”

Oz says developing a personal style and brand is a long journey that requires a proactive approach.

“The more you get out there, the sooner you’ll discover what works for you. You’ll then find your own voice and what sets you apart,” Oz said.

Chapter 4: Why persistence is the key to succeeding where others fail

The world is littered with ‘could-have-been’ animators who packed up and became a barista after their first few rejection letters.

Don’t be one of those people.

“I’ll get at least 100 resumes sent through for a job opening, which means there are going to be a lot of disappointed people,” Steve said.

“They might get disheartened and move onto something else, but that’s not how you break into the industry.

“You need to keep improving, keep applying, and then eventually, something will happen if you’ve got the talent and passion for it.

“A lot of the guys that work here, they didn’t just apply and get a job. They applied, got rejected, applied, got rejected, applied, got an interview, applied, got an internship, and then, at the end of the internship, they didn’t get hired, and then three months later, they finally got a job here. It’s a process.”

You’ll also need to keep experimenting, building your skillset and creating new work to stay fresh and maintain your appeal as a potential hire.

Never stop working

“Try to keep up the momentum from uni with passion projects and dailies…whatever you can do to improve your skillset and avoid falling behind, get it done," Callan said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Cornel.

“Follow other artists, read interviews, do tutorials or workshops. Play around with a new piece of software or plugin and get out of your comfort zone,” he said.

Don’t be afraid to take an unconventional approach to landing your dream job. You may be surprised how far a little initiative can take you.

“Set your sights on companies you admire and create work which you think they will appreciate, without copying them,” Oz said.

“Send out your reel and try to pester them as much as you can, without being annoying. Self-promotion and networking are things you’ll have to cultivate.

“In short, keep doing cool things, always be putting the best stuff on your showreel, and make sure you’re getting yourself out there.”