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  • Putting Together a Compelling Resume and Demo

    [07.11.05]
    - Robin McShaffry
  • Standard Resume Format

    1. Name & Contact Info
    2. Job Title
    3. Objective/Executive Summary
    4. Skill Set/Areas of Expertise
      1. Specific Skills: Technical, Artistic, Marketing, Platforms, Programming Languages
    5. Employment History
      1. Position, Company, Location, Dates -- just years not months
      2. Bullet items of responsibility.
    6. Other Relevant Experience
    7. Education -- leave off the dates

    Additional Information:
    Chart of Projects
    References

    Name and Job Title

    Your 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 versus Executive Summary

    A 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," the top details you'd be able to tell a person in an elevator ride.

    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.

    The executive summary 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.

    Skills Checklist

    On 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, too. This list is especially crucial for engineers.

    While often the skills appear 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, and so forth. 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 prowess.

    A 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.

    Employment History

    Whether you include the skills checklist before or after your employment history, it's 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 nine 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.

    If you have no previous relevant employment history, this is the place to talk about internships, your class work, projects in which you have participated, independent study, relevant volunteer work, or other experiences 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 manner.

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