A Big Pool
industry Human Resources (HR) offices are popular places. Every job
listing you see gets dozens of responses per day. Do the math - that is
hundreds of resumes in the system per week, and for the very large or
very hot companies, thousands. There are a few, well-tested
recommendations that will get your resume seen and produce results.
Your resume should compel someone to contact you to learn more about
you. It doesn't need to land you the job.
Follow the Rules
web pages and job postings are usually pretty clear about how they want
you to submit your resume and samples. If the site says "text resumes
only," that means exactly what it says. Resumes and samples that don't
follow the rules, whatever they are, get about as far as the delete
folder. Follow any and all directions given, whether that is a
file-naming convention, a delivery method, or a file type. Understand
that the rules are there to make hiring you easier for everyone.
Easy to Read
is commonly said that you have about 10 seconds to impress. Remember
that most resumes are scanned by HR and hiring managers before they are
ever thoroughly read. Make sure your resume is easy to scan. Highlight
the main ideas -- use bullet points, numbering and bold headings. Eyes
glaze over at the sight of many paragraphs - a bulleted format can be
read much faster and more easily. Don't use too small a font size
(anything less than 10 is too small!). Be sure to leave plenty of white
space. Most importantly, stress your competitive advantage and
differentiate yourself from the competition right off the top with a
short list of relevant skills, or two or three achievement highlight
go overboard on fancy graphic design. Many hiring managers agree that
the resume is the place for information, not artistic expression. Your
portfolio is the place for art. However, do try to use larger fonts for
the more important lines on your resume (name, job title, categories,
etc.). Use tabs to have important elements line up so they are easy to
scan - for instance, have your employment dates all aligned on the left
or right border. When in doubt, a professional resume service, such as
Blue Sky Resumes ( www.blueskyresumes.com ), can help pull all your
information together into a cohesive format.
resume should be as long as it needs to be. If you are cutting
important details to get all your information on one page, then that is
too short. On the other hand, if you are padding your resume with how
much you like to water ski, then that's a little long. Be succinct, but
get all of your information across. If your resume does end up longer
than one page, make sure to put your name and contact information on
every page. If your pages get separated, an unidentified page gets
resumes these days are emailed, either in the body of the email or as a
Word .doc attachment. Most hiring managers do not prefer .pdf format,
since not everyone uses it, and it takes a long time to load up. Always
give your file names descriptive names and never send your resume in a
file called "resume.doc." Remember your other files too - don't use
"samples.jpg," "projects.xls" or "references.doc" either. Think about
the thousands of files that get emailed to companies every day, and
make sure all your files are named with your first and last name:
JaneSmithResume.doc is a great way to start.
you do deliver a printed out resume, it will be part of a larger
package that probably includes a CD of samples, and a personalized
cover letter. Stick with good quality white paper, and make sure
everything is neatly and correctly printed. Make a printed label for
your disk, and give your presentation a lot of polish.
Standard Resume Format
- Name & Contact Info
- Job Title
- Objective/Executive Summary
- Skill Set/Areas of Expertise
- Specific Skills: Technical, Artistic, Marketing, Platforms, Programming Languages
- Employment History
- Position, Company, Location, Dates -- just years not months
- Bullet items of responsibility.
- Other Relevant Experience
- Education -- leave off the dates
Chart of Projects
Name and Job Title
name should be the first thing on the resume. Immediately after your
name should be a job title. This will allow the person viewing the
resume to instantly know what sort of job you are applying for. The
most effective resumes clearly focus on a specific job title and tailor
their contents to that position. If you are applying for more than one
type of position, you will want to create more than one resume. Your
contact information should also be featured at this point in the
resume. In fact, it is always a good idea to have your name, contact
information, and a page number on each page of your resume.
Objectives vs Executive Summary
typical resume lists a stated Objective just below the name. While this
is a matter of individual preference, and it can be helpful to lay out
exactly what you are looking for, many times this portion of the resume
is just a waste of space. In this way, a job title just below your name
eliminates the need to compose something that is rarely read. In lieu
of a stated Objective, consider a Key Points or "Executive" Summary.
Think of this as your "Elevator Pitch." This short list or statement is
for the hiring manager to quickly scan and know exactly what you are
good at and how you can fit into their organization. It should be an
easy to read, bullet point list of the skills you have, or the
achievements you have made that are the most important to the hiring
manager. Items may include years in related industries, project
management, software design, leadership/management ability, technical
knowledge and/or other advanced knowledge/skillsets. It does not have
to be professional experience, either. This is also a good place to
begin talking about the class project you led, or the mod team you put
together. An Executive Summary is about conciseness and focus - don't
use this area to discuss each aspect of your previous projects or to
expound upon every programming language you know.
a typical resume, the employment history is the next item. However, if
you have specialized knowledge or abilities, you will want to have a
Skills Checklist included in your resume. This list is especially
crucial for Engineers. While often this goes either at the end of the
resume or after the employment history, play around with it and see if
this might be a good spot for yours. The Skills Checklist, unlike the
Executive Summary, should expound on every programming language you
know and every tool you can use. Be sure to include each area of
expertise, all specific technical skills, platforms, programming
languages, etc. Define how well you know each particular tool. This is
the one area on your resume where you want to go into great detail on
the depth of your knowledge! In time, this may take up a full page of
your resume. Where the Executive Summary should evoke a feeling of
"Look how well this person would fit into our company!" the Skills
Checklist should prompt a feeling of sheer awe at your technical
warning - if you say you are an Expert at something, be prepared to be
tested on that. Game industry professionals take great pleasure in
testing "expert" knowledge. Other terms you can use include
"proficient," "experienced," and "intermediate." Make sure your level
of knowledge is consistent with how many years of experience you have.
One year's experience with C++ does not make anyone an expert.
you include the Skills Checklist before or after your employment
history, it is important to format the employment history in a concise,
easy-to-read manner. Key elements to include in the first line of each
history item are company name, dates, and title/position. Again, it is
a matter of personal preference as to whether you list the company name
first, the date first, or the position first. Use years, not months,
working in reverse chronological order. Treat multiple positions at the
same company as separate entries, either by using the company name and
overall dates in the first line, with each position as a separate entry
under the header, or by making a completely separate category for each
position. After each entry, provide a bullet point list of achievements
or responsibilities. Be sure to include management of personnel,
projects, finances, or any aspects of those, but keep in mind that
often a hiring manager is a non-technical person. Try to arrange the
bullet points in order of relevancy to the job you are applying for.
You should aim for having at least three bullet points for each
position (assuming they are all relevant), but no more than 9 or 10. If
you feel that a paragraph describing your function suits the position
better than bullet points, by all means experiment with it. Just keep
in mind that the faster and easier to read your resume is, the more
likely it is to catch the reader's attention. If the reader has to
really dig to see if you have a certain set of skills, he or she is
likely to move on to the next resume. Again, remember that you want the
resume to get you an interview. You can go into that extra level of
detail and depth in the interview.
you have no previous relevant employment history, then this is the
place to talk about internships, your class work, projects in which you
have participated, independent study, relevant volunteer work, or other
history items that have been instrumental in the beginning of your game
industry career. Outline each item in a similar fashion as a previous
job, and give details that describe your contribution in a professional
your employment history is not relevant to the games industry, it is
okay to include that as well, within reason. Employers want to see that
you have been employed successfully, and that you are a reliable
worker. It is not necessary to go into a lot of detail about
non-related job history, except where management and responsibility are
Chart of Projects
you have been in the industry for a few years, you will have a list of
projects. These should be included either after the Skills checklist or
after the employment history. If your list of projects is long enough,
you may want to include it as a separate document. Again, for the most
punch, they should be bullet pointed, preferably with a single bullet
point line for each project worked on. An effective format is: Title
(Role) - Publisher/Developer (Platform). ["Die Commie Die"
(Co-designer) - Great Games/Total Entertainment (PS2)]
is a great place to list out student games or mods. Make sure to
discuss your contribution as well as what tools were used in the
creation of your project. [Student Project "Die Commie Die" (Level
Designer) - Unreal UT3 Technology, 3DStudio Max, Photoshop - 5 person
you have a degree that is of utmost importance to the job for which you
are applying, you will want to emphasize that fact. If you are a recent
graduate, you may even choose to put your education at the top of your
resume. You do not need to include the dates of your degrees, academic
honors (unless relevant to the position), memberships in collegiate
a game-related school or achieving a game-related degree is a great way
to front-load a lot of relevant training and experience to your career.
No particular type of education is a guarantee of a game industry job,
though. What you bring to the party - your talent, your determination,
your involvement - is what gets you the job you are seeking.
Other Relevant Experience
This is where you can bullet point list things like being on a relevant board or committee.
items such as unrelated organizations and activities, publications and
memberships, outside interests and anything else that does not directly
relate to the job you seek.
Last but Not Least
proofread, proofread! Have a trusted friend (or several) read your
resume and give you honest feedback. Never, ever submit a resume with
spelling errors. Always perform a virus check on any files you email.
your work experience or education, you will have gained the respect of
team members, professors, mentors, and other people who can give a
strong reference for your ability to do the job. Seek out 3 to 5 of
these people and present their contact information on a separate page
from your resume. You should use people who are the most familiar with
your work experience, so don't list relatives. Always ask permission
from the people you use as references, and let them know they may be
contacted. It is not necessary to use anyone who you don't think will
give you a positive reference.
artists and designers, the demo reel stands equal in importance with
the resume. A resume talks about a developer's experience, but the reel
shows it. Both presentation - how a studio sees your work - and content
- what a studio sees - are critical.
presentation of your reel can take many forms. Some game companies want
artists to show their work on a web site and send the URL with the
cover letter and resume. Others will accept a website as the first
step, but will also want to see a high-resolution demo on CD-ROM. The
resolution and speed of a web site is often insufficient to show really
fine detail; many art directors viewing demos are seeking a candidate
with the chops to do movie-quality work. You may be asked to present
your reel on VHS tape or DVD. Tapes or DVDs do not require a particular
operating system or installed software to run - just a player.
your bases by having a demo reel ready both on the web and on CD-ROM.
There are also many video transfer services that can put a demo reel
file onto VHS tape or DVD. Having a good reel file ready in multiple
file formats (Quicktime, Real, Windows Media, for instance) is a good
idea. You can present it on any media on short notice and prospective
employers can view whatever file format they need with ease. The bottom
line is to test your demo so that it can run on as many different
systems as possible.
your demo on CD-ROM allows a greater opportunity to show the breadth
and depth of your work. Many artists create Flash sites that will run
off a CD. Others use HTML files to make their CDs more easily
navigated. The clearer and more easily used your CD is, the better your
Only the Best
that you have determined how to best present your work, it's time to
put the content together. The demo should be 2-5 minutes long, and it
should begin with your absolute best work. Just as your resume should
start with a compelling summary, your demo should begin with the work
that will keep the watcher watching. Your demo reel is one of many
hundreds that your intended audience will play. Only the demos that
stand out, are original, and show incredible skill and talent will be
viewed to the end.
over style will get you hired. The strongest reels show a variety of
genres and styles, illustrating your well-rounded talents. Animations
should show unique moves on organic life forms. If your strengths are
in modeling, show your unique models, textured and lighted, if you can.
Strong texture artists should present a variety of textures and their
uses. An environment artist would want to have a great fly-through of
environments. Portraying different art styles is paramount. Save 2D art
and stills for the end of your reel, but do show your strongest work
there, as well, including life drawings or pencil sketches. Let your
reel emphasize that you can do whatever the job needs you to do.
game companies have very detailed descriptions of, or advice about,
what they would like to see in a candidate's demo. Before you make or
re-make your demo, go see what your audiences, the game companies, are
seeking. Be ready to submit specific pieces to a prospective employer
to show that you can do the exact thing they want.
Tell the Story
give credit where credit is due. If you use a scene in your demo that
includes the work of other artists, designers or programmers, you must
make it abundantly clear at the outset that the scene is collaborative,
and fully describe your contribution. Include a complete shot-by-shot
credit list with your demo, unless all the work presented is your own.
There is nothing more frustrating to a hiring manager than to discover
too late in the process that the candidate in whom he had interest is
not as well-rounded as his demo has portrayed. Have some samples of
your work flow - showing the steps you took to get from concept drawing
to fully executed finished piece can be very impressive.
of these tools and tips apply equally to Game Designer demos and Level
Designer demos. Game companies are always interested in seeing a level
designer's skill. Show your levels in a movie file, as well as in the
editor. Talk about which editor you used to build your level and why.
Give credit to the builders of your models, textures and characters if
you did not create them all from scratch. While a level designer is not
always required to have the same artistic skill as a qualified game
artist, you should still endeavor to show your artistic prowess
alongside your writing abilities. The game level designer is a jack- or
jill-of-all-trades, using art, writing, organizational and technical
skills. Other art careers like graphic design, architecture, web
design, scene design, and illustration all have parallels to the game
industry, but none of them individually represents the wide scope of
competencies needed to be a game artist or designer. Building a great
graphical demo reel to complement your resume and writing samples will
only strengthen your position.
should supply sample code and/or working game pieces as part of your
submission, or on your personal web site. Show well-organized and
well-documented code. Do not submit code that is part of a project that
is copyrighted by another company. You should always ask before sending
over a code sample. Some companies are very careful about what they
receive, so make sure you are only sending what they want to see.
Present your samples on CD, following the guidelines above, for a
What Not to Do
you are seeking your first game job, don't send game idea submissions.
All game companies have a careful process they go through when
considering new ideas for new games, and they generally do not include
unsolicited ideas from random applicants.
do your homework, and know as much as possible about a company you are
applying to. But, don't be arrogant, and don't assume that they want to
know right up front everything they did wrong on their last 5 titles.
Critical assessment of game development is an important skill, but so
should also avoid many of the pitfalls of job seeking in any industry:
don't include a picture of yourself on your resume; don't give away
your age, marital status, or any other personal information, other than
contact information, on a resume meant for a US company. There are
different protocols for other countries.
an email address and web site domain name that are professional in
nature. "Chickmagnet66@aol.com" is not a professional sounding email
address, and is destined to make people wonder about your intentions!
a job in the game industry requires talent, creativity, perseverance
and commitment. It also requires common sense, communication skills,
and demonstrable proof of your abilities. Putting together a compelling
resume and demo is just the first step to achieving greatness in your