Get it Right: Your Resume

Your resume sends a powerful image of what you bring to the table - or what you don't. Market yourself properly and reap the rewards!

No matter how experienced or inexperienced you are, an attractive resume is essential to marketing yourself as a professional. A 20-year pro might squeak by with only a LinkedIn profile, but that may call communication and professionalism into question. Worst case scenario, the candidate could be deemed too self-important to fit culturally.

Nobody I know loves writing and editing a resume. (Except me, but that's what makes me special, right?) I might see hundreds of resumes each month, and I carefully review every single one. It's shockingly rare to see a well-presented submission, even from aesthetics-conscious artists. The more I have to hunt for the information I need, the more I question the communication and documentation abilities of the candidate.

Lay of the Land

Let's start with the overall layout. Experience, experience, experience. Experience is the most important part of the resume to most recruiters, so you want to put that at the top or damn near close. Unless you have zero pro development experience, do not put your education at the top. You might prefer an objective to introduce yourself. Only include an objective if you have a specific, impactful statement to make that truly reflects who you are and what you're seeking. Allow me to demonstrate:

Passionate graphics programmer seeks ambitious indy production environment with a friendly, small team.

See what I did there? Specific! Impactful! If you are junior or entry-level, skip the objective and write a cover letter. 

After experience, present your education. Even if some or all of it happened after your experience, put education underneath. After that, list your skills section and an indication of your proficiency for each item (e.g., 3DS Max - Hardened, ZBrush - Recruit). If you have remaining white space you think would look better filled, a brief list of games you are currently playing is a nice touch.

Say It, Don't Spray It

Experienced candidates often fail to edit irrelevant information and get to the heart of what they bring to the table. Formatting can be complex for a lengthy history. Call it optimization, each job blurb should decrease in size as you go back in time. No one needs a full paragraph on your first job debugging. Limit early career history descriptions to one line per job, calling out only major titles or contributions. If the company wants more info, they'll ask in the interview. 

If you're junior, don't pad your experience section with academic projects. That's what your education section is for. In education, list academic game projects with the rule of thumb above: Unless they were recent, keep it very brief. Include your GPA and any awards received. 

Ain't Nobody Got Time For Dat

Freelance and contract work can be tricky. Short-term contracts can dominate space that would be better suited to meatier experience. It is tempting to write a lengthy description for the AAA title that you jumped on to put out fires for two months, but Resist! List all freelance jobs as one job under company "Freelance". Bullet points or indented lines can then be used to list projects, their dates, and your role on each. Only rarely are further explanations necessary. Unless freelance is all you do or all you've ever done, this technique will keep contracts from overtaking your resume and giving the appearance of padding.

You Have Earned a Trophy: The road
to hell is paved with 8-point font.

If you can stick to these basic formatting tips, you're already way ahead of the curve with maximizing your resume and accurately presenting the best of what you have to offer. Level up further with these points:

  • Triple check that you have included a correct address, phone number, Skype name, and email. Then check again.
  • Don't do anything weird with your formatting like write in all Bold.  
  • Write in a decently-sized font. 
  • Don't separate experience at the same company if you are promoted, but do make it clear exactly when each promotion took place.
  • Keep formatting consistent. If you underline section titles, make sure you do it for each one.
  • Show some personality in your writing. Let your resume reflect a bit of the culture you are looking for!
Good luck in your search, and I'll see you in the jobs macrocosm!


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