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Search String: “Game Design Resume”

February 14, 2008

This one shows up a fair amount, so I suppose it’s time to write about it. As usual, take it with a grain of salt. It’s just my preference. At the same time, I’ve probably seen thousands of resumes since I entered the industry, so it’s a honed preference if nothing else.

In a nutshell: I want to know how you are, what you want to do, what you can do and what makes you different as quickly as possible.

Top

Name/Address/Email/Site

Objective

What do you want to do in the industry? My objective statement looks like this: “Award-winning, industry veteran with 22 published titles and 26 years experience seeks contract design work.” The objective statement is where the resumes begin to be separated into four piles: industry experienced, college educated, random joes and janes with possibility and garbage. Your objective needs to include the position you seek. Don’t make the people guess.

Skills

What can you do? Skills include your basic game design skills (and if you don’t know what those are, you aren’t ready for a resume), software programs you use well (i.e. Zbrush, Maya, Max), programming languages you’re comfortable with (C++, Lua, Actionscript) or abilities you have (system design, design docs) etc. When you list something as a skill, it’s not so much something you’re willing to do, but rather something that you are proficient at. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen designers list C++ only to say “I’m currently taking a class in it and hoping…” A skill is already obtained, not merely desired.

Awards

Awards are important, particularly at the college level. I believe that students should enter every single competition they possibly can. After all, you don’t have to list awards you didn’t win, only those you did. Awards provide your prospective employer with external validation – someone else thinks your good at what you do.

Experience

List relevant experience here. Have no relevant experience? Spend your summers trying to get some. One possibility is to work at summer camps. Seriously. Many of these camps offer game design/art/programming programs for the kids. If you can’t get an internship, it’s certainly a step up from Clerk.

Another thing you should list is experience on significant projects. If you spent a significant amount of time working on a game or a mod with a team, it’s certainly worth listing that as well as your role on the project. If you list it, expect people to ask you to see it. Unless you have nothing else to list, please don’t include the two summers you spent working for Mrs. Beasely as her nanny.

Education

Got a degree? Bear in mind that I value your skills and your experience above your degree, unless it’s actually more important than your experience. For instance, if you graduated as an art student from SCAD, I would value this more than the couple years you spent working at Best Buy. On the other hand, if you spent those years creating and delivering an indie game or working internships within the industry, I want to see that listed ahead of the education. In essence, it’s no so much that one is more important than the other, it’s just that the work experience is further down life’s trail and separates you from others in the pile. List your GPA if its good, and your minor or focus if its relevant.

Other Stuff

If you’ve been published, are a part of any organizations (like the IGDA) or anything that might separate you from the herd, note it in a specific section. I have a “Writing” section on my resume, because I’ve written a bunch of articles and have also published a book (soon to be two books).

References

Available upon request. If you have some industry experience and good recommendations, suggest that people visit your linked in profile. If you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be. You’ll have to log in to see the full profile.

Interests

As an interviewer, I like it when people list these. It gives me something to talk about to break the ice and get to know the candidate. My interests on my resume are: Games (obviously), stand up comedy, Irish history and classic cars.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2008 8:23 pm

    I pared my last resume right down, I cut out the hobbies/interests. When asked in the interview why I hadn’t listed them, it was easy to explain:

    They either make you sound boring, or a liar

    Everyone likes books and music a films. Great. Mundane.

    If I was writing a book and learning Japanese, I’d sound like I was lying for a CV.

    The simplest CV I ever saw was my friend DCs – when a few of us were moving company together, he simply wrote his name and a list of all the games he’d written.

  2. February 15, 2008 10:34 am

    Wow, I have a very different perspective, especially for student resumes.

    Objective: I see this as optional, and haven’t included one for some time. For most positions, you have to also submit a cover letter where you should state explicitly which job you’re applying for. If you apply by email or Web, you often do this in the subject heading. Putting the desired position on the resume also is redundant.

    Likewise, talking about the kind of work you want to do often ends up being a glittering generality. Usually it’s just another way of saying, “I think I’m a good person to hire and I’m looking for a good company to work for.” Well, yeah, duh.

    I think your objective is a special case, Brenda, since you’re putting it on your own website with the (realistic!) expectation that people will contact YOU rather than the other way around, and you only want inquiries that match what you’re looking for. For students seeking a job at a specific company, this is less important.

    Ordering of sections: For me, the rule of thumb is to put them in order from most to least relevant. If you’re a recent college grad with no industry experience, your first section will probably be your education and relevant coursework. Once you have industry experience, that’s much more important, so job history leaps to the top of the page.

    Other sections:
    * Students taking classes that are obviously useful making games can list them under its own “relevant coursework” section.
    * If you’ve worked on more than a couple published titles, it might be worth adding a “ludography” section just listing the games and positions (either ahead of or instead of the standard “work experience” section); if I know that you were lead designer of World of Warcraft, that tells me all I need to know, and you don’t have to give me a bullet list of job responsibilities.
    * If you have industry work (or schooling) in a field other than the one you’re applying for (such as, um, being a programmer applying for a game design position) then you might consider structuring your resume a bit differently, since the traditional resume is geared towards getting work in your area of expertise. For my first design gig, I wrote something called a “functional resume” that organized everything by skills rather than job titles, so it’d say something like “here are all the places where I worked with game mechanics” and then a list of companies, and at the end was just a summary of places I worked. (Google “functional resume” for more details.)

    A couple other things that are probably worth saying, as long as we’re on the subject of resumes:

    * Keep the resume under one page. Especially if you’re a student. Brenda can probably get away with two pages since all of the games she’s worked on would fill a page by themselves, but most students just don’t have that much relevant experience. If you’re a student with a two-page resume, it just screams “padding”.
    * Don’t neglect the cover letter. I think this is more important than a resume since it’s written in narrative form so you can let your personality (and writing skills) show through. It’s also probably the best way to really grab someone’s attention, because a cover letter can be fun to read but a resume is always just a list of boring facts. Personalize the cover letter for the specific position and company; it’s a way to let them know that you’re not just shotgunning your resume to 2000 companies.

  3. March 4, 2008 1:55 am

    I think having a short-n-sweet objective on your resume is really important, student or otherwise. It’s true that when you apply online/through email/with a cover letter, a desired position on everything may seem redundant. However, in a busy office environment it’s remarkable how many things get lost, misplaced, separated or vanish into office-void. You never know if your original email/application/c.letter will be read at the same time as your resume.

    You shouldn’t need two pieces of paper to fully explain yourself to an employer because once you send them off, you can’t control if they stay together.

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