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31 Dec 2013

Creating That Perfect Game Development Resume

Bouncing off the ideas of building a portfolio in yesterday’s post, today’s post details some of the best ways to create a resume that is certain to raise the chances of you getting a job at an indie game development studio. I don’t have to tell you that resumes are vital to increasing the chances of you getting hired, as it showcases your achievements, past experiences, testimonials, and so on. In combination with a killer portfolio, it will mean the difference between getting called for a phone interview (and hopefully a full-length, in-person interview later on) and not being a serious candidate for the position.

So how do you create a resume that exemplifies your career thus far? Below are a few key ways to use a resume sure to impress. Follow these tips, and you may be sitting in your dream position at an awesome indie game studio sooner than later!


Detail your game projects – no matter how small they may have been

If you have any experience at all in helping develop a game, list your experience. Even if you had a small part in developing a game a few years ago, list this experience and go into detail regarding what you did. List anything, and I mean anything, related to the experiences you have had developing games in the past. Even if you only wrote a few lines of code, drew one sprite, or wrote a small set of dialogue for a game nobody has ever heard of, describe it. The trick is to show a hiring manager that you have experience developing games. Whatever it takes to do this, do it.


Be selective in the experiences you list

While you need to detail the experiences you have in developing games, that doesn’t mean you should also put down every job you have ever had either. For example, since I’m a freelance writer, I am always on the lookout for new gigs. Usually, I direct potential clients to my website where they can find my resume, samples, portfolio, etc., and it lists relevant information that will help them to make an informed decision regarding if they should hire me or not.

What they won’t find is information that is irrelevant to my writing career. Nowhere will they learn that I worked at Walmart on more than one occasion, nor will they find that I worked inside a factory processing poultry products for a year during my freshman year of college. Why would they anyway? Is my experience cleaning restrooms at Walmart relevant to my career in any way? Absolutely not.

Believe me: if you want a job at an indie development studio, employers are not going to care that you learned ‘communication skills’ as a cashier at a Kroger in 2008. They don’t care that you have experience working on a team simply because you worked at a fast food joint 10 years ago. Having proper communication skills and experience working on a team are skills you should have anyway – employer couldn’t care less that you possess these skills. What they do care about is, again, that you have experience developing games.

Every experience you list should provide some insight regarding what you learned, what skills you used, and how it has made you a better, well-rounded developer. If the experience listed does not accomplish this, it doesn’t need to be in your resume. This ensures that your resume is focused on one objective: describing your experiences in game development. Ensure your resume accomplishes this objective, and you are going to have a resume that works for you.



Apply the ‘inverted pyramid’ to your resume

In journalism, reporters often use the inverted pyramid when writing their stories. Using the information they have gathered, they include the most important information at the beginning of their article. As the article progresses, less important information is added until the reporter gets to the very bottom of the article, in which they include the least important information about the story. This ensures that those that want to skim a story are able to obtain an understanding of the story as quickly as possible. Not everyone has time to read a story, thus this  is a great approach to reporting news without taking up too much of the reader’s time.


Time – that’s the keyword you need to focus on for the new few minutes. Employees hiring you are not going to want to spend a lot of time looking over your resume and seeing if you are a good fit. If they cannot find that you are a good fit within the first few minutes, they are likely going to go onto the next resume and forget that yours ever existed.

Don’t let this happen. Use the inverted pyramid approach. First, include your name, your contact information, and the position you are applying to. Next, go into relevant experience such as the school/degree you obtained/are working to obtain. Finally, list the projects you are most proud of (include as much detail as possible in these projects), and place them all in order from the most important/impressive projects to the least important (it is up to you to judge what is most important/impressive, what is less important/impressive, and what should be left out altogether).

At the very bottom of your resume, list the skills you possess. Relevant skills – none of the ‘communication skills’ nonsense mentioned earlier in the post. You want to include real, relevant skills that would impress employers. For example, if you helped to design a game in Unity, mention that you have experience using Unity.


But what if I don’t have relevant experience?

The bad thing about trying to get experience is that most people want you to have prior experience before giving you any, thus keeping you from getting experience. Confusing? It is, and it’s the catch-22 of most creative fields. But when no one will provide you with experience, you need to make your own experiences, and that is what tomorrow’s post will detail.

A new year should breed your dream career, and that’s what this series of posts this week is hoping to help you to achieve. If they have been helpful, I would certainly like to hear from you in the comments below. And of course, happy New Year’s Eve everyone!

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