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do's and do nots for resumes?

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Hi, I was wanting to update my resume, and tailor it specifically for game design/development. I'm an avid hobbyist, and I think I would make a great tools programmer in the industry. Anyone have a list of do's and don'ts when it comes to writing resume's geared towards this? Are there things that HR people look for as 'red flags' when scanning resume's for review? Should i be listing as many skills as possible? or just the one's i'm expert at? Also, do i need to write simple stuff like hardware/software troubleshooting, debugging, and other (often underestimated) assumed skills that programmers have. Any templates or example resume's would be appreciated.

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Remember that the first screen is HR, which often doesn't have a clue what the job entails, just a spec sheet from the technical department, listing stuff like "should have a good comp-sci degree, ideally some experience writing tools." That means you should aim to hit that "spec sheet" full on, and avoid leaving any red flags for her to zoom in on.

- Make the resume 1 page ideally, 2 pages at the absolute max

- Tailor the resume to the job; that means rewriting the resume for each company to make it a perfect fit against what they're looking at

- First: name, nationality, contact details. Ideally, snailmail, handphone, email and website. Also include DOB and marriage status if you're married. Some like to include a photo; it helps to anchor the person in the mind of the interviewer.

- Start with your qualification if you have any (university education, etc). If it's relevant, mention a line or 2 of details ("received a distinction in graphics programming", etc). Do mention additional certification you've received since ("Sun Certified Java Master"), but ideally not above your graduate/post-graduate stuff. Most important first.

- Then a chronological order of past jobs, most recent first. Skip stuff that's summer-job level unless it's relevant ("Intern at Blizzard" == good. "Sold Coffee at Pop's shop" == less usefull, unless you're applying as your first real job, in which case it shows willingness to work). If it's relevant, do 2-3 lines of job-scope ("built productivity tools using MFC, OpenGL.", "managed a team of 5, handling training, scheduling and hiring"). Note; this is a red-flag situation for a HR person; if there's too much jumping ( cycling through several jobs quickly), or big spaces (where you didn't work for one or more years; that's a big no-no). Put a positive spin on things; so if you were the head monkey at the local McDonalds, put it as "Worked with management and the service-crew to manage the outlet, schedule staff, and ensure quality in delivery").

- You should now have another 1/3 of the page to play with.. it's up to you to customize that:

- If you've got any real accomplishments or awards, mention them here ("published the #1 selling shareware RTS in june 2002", "Graduation speaker of class of 2004", etc). You can also mention things that reflect well on your character ("Worked as a volunteer lifeguard at the local pool while at school"); HR likes that kind of stuff

- If you've got any big projects you're working on, mention them here. "Currently working on a FPS in OpenGL, using C++. Key technologies used; SDL, Raknet, FMOD. It's in alpha state right now, with up to 8 players having tested it in multiplayer." The programming department likes to see that you're doing stuff on your own. Especially usefull if it's directly relevant to the post you're applying for (for example, as a tools programmer, something like this "Released a public-domain particle editor, "PartEd" (, which is being used in several open-source projects. Developed using QT and OpenGL, though the interface is platform neutral").

- Don't put stuff like "I'm an avid gamer". They'll ask at the interview if they care (which the development staff will, but HR won't). Be prepared for the question, "what's your favorite game, and why? How would you make it better?". It's an old favorite in the industry :)

- Don't go overboard with "tools I know". Listing 10 different programming languages and every SDK known to man is unlikely to win you any favours, and HR's eyes will glaze over. Any relevant specializations should be listed as part of the "Big Projects". You can do a line on "Fluent in C++ and Java, with 5 years experinece doing Graphical Tools Programming in C++ and QT".

Finally, make everything nice and clean. You want to come across as a trained and honed professional, so don't get too creative with the layout. Elegant is the key word.

Follow up with a website that has a lot more detail (projects, source-code, development-blog, etc). Here you can be a lot more creative (it's for the dev-team, not for the more corporate HR).

Good luck; you're definetly going the right direction (we need more people that WANT to do good development tools)


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Do: Tell about stuff you ACTUALLY know about. Ideally, there exists code or shipped product to prove it (you could put a link on the resume, if it's short). Note that a well-received release of an open source project DOES count as "product," especially if it's a project that more than 10 people in the world have heard of.

Don't: Lie, boast, or embellish. Places that have their act together will call you on it in an interview. Remember: the goal is not to get an interview; the goal is to get a job where both you and the employer like the situation, long-term. If I had a dime for every interview candidate that I've walked out the door because the hands-on test didn't meet the claims on the resume, I could buy a sandwich. (You do the math :-)

Also include DOB and marriage status if you're married.

Employers may be prohibited from discriminating based on age or marital status (depending on policy, law, etc). Only talk about things that are actually relevant to the job -- anything else shows that you have a hard time keeping personal stuff separate from professional stuff. You can deviate from this in one way: many people list one or a few hobbies, just to show they're real people. Typically, this comes at the bottom, after "US Work Status" (which you should include: Need H-1B? Green card holder? Citizen? This matters a lot)

Something like:

US Work Status: US Citizen.
Hobbies: I enjoy skiing in the winter, and gardening in the summer, if the garden isn't too big.

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Original post by tstrimp
I got a job as a PHP developer because I had PHP on my resume before I knew it (I had looked at some code once). Not sure if that helps at all.
A very risky game to play. A good interviewer would expose your lack of knowledge and a bad interviewer might hire you and drop you into a job you aren't qualified for and can't handle. Getting the sack because it turns out you lied on your CV seldom comes with a good recommendation.

[Edited by - Obscure on May 25, 2006 5:22:43 AM]

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Thank you so much everyone... I'm going to get working on a website for myself now.

as for the "php" thing, I never say i know stuff I don't know... because nothing is more painful than working a job you can't handle and fearing every day might be your last.

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An interesting article from the perspective of a (computer scientist) interviewer :

The number one tip i can give you is : don't let the person reading your résumé have any excuse to dump it! It takes less than 10 second to decide weither read it's content or put the résumé in the paper shredder. Nowadays with e-mail it's even easier : just press delete. A LOT of candidate are rejected like that, even if they are awesomely skilled persons.
That means no grammar/spelling mistake, no stupid format (a rar file containing a pdf containing a scanned résumé), the document is structured in a way to make it actually readable,...

To make your résumé go from bearable to good there is no magic solution but here are other tips:
-In the list of previous job NEVER do something like:

year : 2001-2002; company : fungamescorp; job : c++/IA

1)It makes you look like a robot.
2)It doesn't say what the project was
3)It doesn't say what you actually did
4)It doesn't say that it's an experience which will help you for the job you are applying for

Instead put the title of the game/software or what it was. Put the different tasks you did.
A really interesting to add is what it brought to the company, the other workers,... Add things like : allowed to finish on time, that choice reduced the required the development time of one month, solved a recurring problem, reused by the whole company in the other projects,...
If you worked on the IA of a game and it was nominated as one of the best IA by xxx put it in your résumé.

-customize the CV to the company and the job you are applying for. Avoid completely unrelated experience unless it enhanced a skill such as leadership.
In the list of jobs put the emphasis on the tasks you did that will catch the interest of the reader.

-You are not a machine, you are a human. As said in the article i gave a link to : make the reader think of you as a person and not a machine. Put a picture of yourself.

-Make it clear who you are and which job you're applying to. Make you name stand out(put it in bold or something) and put the description of the job you are applying for in the title. e.g: "Senior c++ programmer".

-Put some colors. I don't mean to make your résumé look like a christmas tree. For example, to prevent having a 100% black and white résumé put the line separating the different sections of the document in read. It's a minor difference but it makes it less bland.

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