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JonConley

Resume Critique

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Howdy all, I have been lurking on here for quite some time and have posted some questions and fewer answers. Well I graduate in the spring with a BS in Comp Sci so I started a resume and plan on sending it out within the next couple of weeks to mostly non-game related positions but, I figure that this would be one of the better places to get advice on what to change.

I have done some smaller games and some proof of concept items for myself. The biggest thing I am concerned about really is the Pokemon Red Save Game editor. Yes I own the original cartridge along with my gameboy pocket, but the idea came to me when I was bored at work (I work the front desk at a local Y) and I decided to boot up an emulator on my tablet to play the game some.

Attached is the resume, any advice is welcome. For references I have a professional who worked for Kodak for 10 years, a professor that now owns his own company (which has done an indie game that has won several awards), and professor I did an independent study with (Concurrent programming for the Cell).

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Howdy all, I have been lurking on here for quite some time and have posted some questions and fewer answers. Well I graduate in the spring with a BS in Comp Sci so I started a resume and plan on sending it out within the next couple of weeks to mostly non-game related positions but, I figure that this would be one of the better places to get advice on what to change.

I have done some smaller games and some proof of concept items for myself. The biggest thing I am concerned about really is the Pokemon Red Save Game editor. Yes I own the original cartridge along with my gameboy pocket, but the idea came to me when I was bored at work (I work the front desk at a local Y) and I decided to boot up an emulator on my tablet to play the game some.

Attached is the resume, any advice is welcome. For references I have a professional who worked for Kodak for 10 years, a professor that now owns his own company (which has done an indie game that has won several awards), and professor I did an independent study with (Concurrent programming for the Cell).

My BS filter smells something wrong right from your post. I'll wait and see if it bears out. I don't know why you mention your reference and give him so much weight.


My first impressions:

What are you applying for? Entry level programmer? Senior engineer? I see 7-years of C# and 5-years of C++, so you should have 10-15 years of professional employment, but I don't immediately see that. Wall of text, no focus. Does he write code or keep his desk or relate to people as cluttered as this? NO HIRE.

Sorry, but it fails the quick ten-second review. If HR cannot immediately see where you fit, they will throw it out.

You really need to follow the traditional pattern. HR people go through lots of applications. The easier you make their job, the more likely they will push you through the process. You have created an unnecessary barrier to getting through the job application process.




Okay, Now I'm actually reading the details.

I don't care about what you did at age twelve. I don't care about your VB programs you used to learn to program, thousands of programmers have the same basic story. I don't care about your homework.

FINALLY I get to something interesting: "Xbox Live Indie Arcade Game". That's interesting. Then I see voxels, c++ ,OpenGL, boost but nothing else that catches my interest.

Cut the prose. Replace it with a bulleted list following the traditional pattern: Project, school, or workplace, and year. What you did and why it is significant. Repeat.




Next section, Recognitions. Why is that first? ALWAYS you should have the most relevant stuff first. Recent graduates should have education, experienced professionals should have professional work experience first. Those are interesting recognitions, but they do not tell me why I should hire you, or even interview you.

"C++ - 5 years". .... ....

Okay, go read the forum FAQ. Read every item under section 5. The languages section violates at least 7 of the items listed in the "10 Wannabe Tricks" list. You do NOT have 5 years of experience in the language. When a job posting or resume refers to experience, they are talking about paid work experience in a professional environment. I see absolutely nothing on your page that says you were employed for five years by any company.

"C# - 7 years". Same thing. Where is your seven years of job experience? I don't see it, so my resume-reading glasses interpret it as complete BS. Either prove it with work references or remove it.

I'm sorry, but at this point I have almost completely given up hope.



Wow. Skipping down, looking at your professional work.

Google for Bad Pilcrow Games shows the 'company' is founded by a teacher at a local college and appears only to exist as a placeholder for two competition games. It does not look like a traditional business, just an umbrella for students, so I don't interpret contract work through them as a very big thing. Next I look up the game. The best review I found on the game says "[color="#444444"]This was a tricky one to judge because while the presentation, graphics and story are done well the game is actually quite basic and there is nothing much to it which leaves you with a game that can be completed in a couple of hours with little replay value.[color="#444444"]" While that is better than nothing, I still have no idea what you contributed to it. That you "created seaweed and movement" doesn't really inspire me to hire you.

You list no other professional work experience.

You list no educational experience.


Okay, now I have given up.




At this point I have completely lost interest in trying to help improve it. The whole thing needs to be scrapped. Be honest with yourself and your potential employer. They will discover the truth about you after a few days of employment, and trying to puff yourself up with experience you don't have will backfire.

Looking briefly over the rest of your resume, here is what I see:

* No formal education. No college. Not even a basic diploma. Your post says you are about to graduate, but your resume does not. If you are getting a degree, explicitly state what the degree is, where it came from, what you did to get it, and when you expect to finish.

* No real work experience, no work history. I have no evidence that you can even hold a job, or that you even know what real work is. Throw me a bone here and if nothing else at least show that you can show up to work on a regular basis.

* Only one real project, which appears to be a personal project, entered into the Independent Games Festival (which only shows up as "entrant") and does not have rave reviews. While it is an accomplishment to do something, that really isn't strong evidence that I should hire you.

* No idea of the real world, what people want to see, and has difficulty distinguishing between classroom work and hobby projects vs real professional work. I don't know for certain, but the whole page looks like it suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect where you have so little real-life experience that you cannot accurately judge yourself.



Are those accurate?

I don't know you, but that is the impression I get from only seeing this forum post and the one page resume.




Go back to the forum FAQ at the top. Read all of the pages it links to. Read the pages those link to. Really understand them, especially those listed in section 5 of the FAQ.


Now throw out your resume. Go download fifty or so resumes from the web, look at the very common formatting and layout, and copy it. Replace it with actual examples of what you did, how you did it, and who you did it with. I don't want to see your learning experiments. I want to see actual finished work.

Then bring that new document back to look over.

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I would pretty much agree with Frob -- What you have is terribly unformated and informal. Resumes should be optimized for scanability -- first, for humans to easily parse out key information -- and second, for computers to do the same. Any large company, or any company which gets an inordinate amount of resume submissions (eg. any game company with a name) , relies on computer assistance in managing all this information -- the result of this is that you should keep prose to a minimum (it means little to humans, even less to a computer) and have a high signal-to-noise ratio (concise descriptions of what you've worked on, what role you played, technologies you've used).

As a new grad, don't be discouraged that your first attack at a resume wasn't that great -- writing a resume (and interviewing) is a skill that must be developed like any other, certainly mine has improved over the past 7 or so years since I've graduated (based on what got responses and what didn't, feedback from recruiters, high-caliber head-hunters, and peers who hold high positions at prestigious companies (Google, etc)).

I'll offer you two main pieces of advice --
1 - There's a book called "Programming Interviews Exposed", go out and get it *right now*. It covers everything from writing resumes, to practice interview questions, to how to dress, to how to negotiate your salary. At around $30, its probably the best money you'll ever spend. If you have to skip Starbucks or eat Ramen for a couple weeks, make it happen.
2 - Always remember: the purpose of a resume is *not* to get you a job -- the purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. The interview is the goal for now, then you use the interview to secure the job. It's a subtlety lost on most people, but if you bear it in mind you will find that your resume is a more-focused piece of work because you'll get rid of a lot of premature detail.

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Thanks to both of you for that. As I reread it today between classes I can easily see everything you have mentioned. I also realized after I posted that no where does it include school.

Now Frob what would you suggest about the Bad Pilcrow situation? Drop it? or be more concise and not list it as professional?

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Thanks to both of you for that. As I reread it today between classes I can easily see everything you have mentioned. I also realized after I posted that no where does it include school.

Now Frob what would you suggest about the Bad Pilcrow situation? Drop it? or be more concise and not list it as professional?


Always be honest.

I know nothing about the company, other than some quick searches on Google, looking at the web site itself, and looking at what other people said (or in this case, didn't say) about it. I don't know exact details, but with my experience I'm usually pretty good at finding the nature of the business.

Real companies have a common feel to them. Real companies have goals and purposes. They are working toward creating something of commercial value, and their public web site reflects that. They want to make games and they also want to make money. A business that doesn't make money quickly ceases to exist.

The web site shows only two projects: Both were apparently done by students, and both games appear to only as entries to competitions and not as real commercial products. The site itself says it was created by a college professor, and indirectly it screams that it was created as an umbrella for the students. There is no commercial component to the site.

The web site contact info is not at the domain (which is always fishy) but points to gmail. It should be an address like contact@thisdomain.com, not businessname@gmail. Finally, the LLC is real but only has one person and one name associated with it, David Sushil. Open government records (which some employers will check) show that they have only the founder and no employees, and the address is the address of the owner.

Then checking up on David Sushil, he is a self-proclaimed "award winning game developer". Yet for all his awards, he has no game credits that I can find. He does not seem to have any professional ties. He is a college teacher. His own resume says he got a BS in psychology in '03, a MS degree at a trade school, and started teaching professionally at the same school that gave him his degree. (I spent my own time in education and master's program. When they professors teach at the same school they were taught it is a very bad sign.) He lists no employment within the game industry. The games he list are student projects, and the awards he lists are student awards. Note that most student competitions will specifically forbid professionals since their work is typically of higher caliber.

His big accomplishments on his resume include that he "managed a team of seven contractors", which is unimpressive. Many people do more than that as part of their own master's program work. He won some awards at the same university he attended --- and he won them WHILE HE WAS A TEACHER at that school. I mean, what's up with that? A teacher wins an award that is supposed to be for students? Very bizarre. One of his two programs was a "finalist", won a single award at the Independent Game Developers Contest, and won another academic award for hacking together a game in Silverlight under time constraints.

We're not talking about a major player in the game industry here.

He is a professor first and foremost. He has a side project where it looks like he is attempting to get his first game published, but hasn't even found a publisher for that "award-winning" game.

That is not a bad thing. In fact, it is good because it shows you have actually worked on a game project.

But it is also not something I would call too much attention to. It isn't like you were personally selected by John Romero for a special project. The guy is an associate professor, and he is not now, nor has he ever been, in the game industry. He is not an industry vet, has not been in the trenches of game development, has never published a game, and is otherwise not so different from you.



So how would I reference that?

Be honest: One of your professors hired you to help him write a game. Then state what you did as part of the project.

For example, you could start with this and reword it as appropriate:

Student Project - SnailShot Torpedo
Worked with my professor for "additional programming" on the project. I was responsible for the <features> in the game. Implemented <feature> rendering using <stuff> in C++. Game was shown at Independent Games Festival 2010.

That does not overstate what you did. You were not employed in the game industry. You helped a professor (who is also not in the game industry) to create a game.

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Always, always, always be honest about yourself. You want to put yourself in a good light, but it's all too easy convince yourself that you're not stretching the truth too far, because your goggles are always colored by what you know is the truth of the matter. But if your spin leads the person to assume that you are greater than you are, its really your own fault; and the end result is that you come off looking like an exagerator at best, and an outright liar at worst. If they begin to suspect you of either, it calls into question literally everything else on your resume.

There's a certain measure of "managing expectations" at play in the resume game. This sounds suspiciously close to "prepare them for the worst" but it's really not as bad as that sounds. What it really means is that your resume should set you up for success, rather than coming to work against you. If you are uncertain, err on the side of the undersell -- sure, there's a chance that you might not get an interview based on the apparent "weaknesses" of your resume, but you'll live to see another day. That's a far better outcome than looking like a great candidate on paper, but falling short of expectations, or being labeled an exagerator and blacklisted from the next, more-suitable opportunity.


Besides, even failed interviews, if you're honest and represent yourself well, can result in further opportunities. I've been rejected for one role and simultaneously offered an interview for another that was more suited to me, for example. But you won't get that kind of redirect if your skills or character is under any suspicion.


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Ok so it has been awhile but I am now on christmas break and finally finished fixing up the resume.

There are still some sections I'd like to add but they aren't overly related to the comp sci part just more hobbies and such.
The <COMPANY> part is there because this one will be sent to a company that a friend of mine is working at and I'd prefer to leave the name out for now.

I'd appreciate any and all comments on what should be changed.

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One thing I don't find mentioned, it seems to be you're combining a portfolio with a resume.
Now, I'm no super star at this stuff and I suppose this might be acceptable in certain context.

But for me this feels off. Your projects could be much better showcased in a portfolio.
You could use more formatting, images and still maintain skim-able information.

Anyone else has some thoughts on this?



Now here's the thing that really struck me, your resume certainly implied you have experience with PS3 coding.
But then I saw "Eclipse – for Playstation 3 development".
Now, I have done some coding with the official PS3 devkits and SDK... Eclipse wasn't involved in that.
Future employers who do PS3 games will also pick up on this.


A few other remarks. I know what you're going for with the font, but to be honest it just tires me to read it.
Use a font that is gentle on the eyes please.
Also, breathe in some more vertical whitespace, again it's too dense to skim.

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Now here's the thing that really struck me, your resume certainly implied you have experience with PS3 coding.
But then I saw "Eclipse – for Playstation 3 development".
Now, I have done some coding with the official PS3 devkits and SDK... Eclipse wasn't involved in that.
Future employers who do PS3 games will also pick up on this.



Yeah I guess I need to clarify this, I should of put Cell Processor instead, I used the PS3 with fedora on it and IBM's official SDK on my home computer and networked it to the PS3 to send everything over.

I also doubt I will apply to many game development jobs. So this isn't tuned overly much for a job in the games industry but more for competent businesses that are comp sci oriented. I do realize this is a game dev forums but many people here have worked in both, also the community is quite honest about everything so I figured I'd drop it off here.

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Better, but it still doesn't say what you have actually done.


Let's assume I am looking for a general gameplay programmer. That is a common entry-level job.

I am looking for somebody who can develop game objects, write the code behind spawn points, specialization of various creature types and the interactions available to each individual item.

Now I read your resume and see THIS:


Languages:
C++ – Polymorphism, function pointers, STL, algorithm, and Boost libraries
C# – XNA, WinForms, tools and application development
IDEs and Compilers:
Visual Studio 2003-2010 with AMD Code Analyst in Visual Studio 2008 and 2010
Eclipse – for Playstation 3 development
GCC - used on Fedora 11 through 14
[/quote]

Does that tell me that you can do the job of creating game objects?

Simply: No.

It could have been written by somebody familiar with those tools. It could also have been written by somebody who just plugged my job requirements into Wikipedia and copied out what they thought were interesting tidbits about each item.



Show me what you actually did with the language. Give me evidence that you can actually write code.

Even better, give me evidence that you can write SYSTEMS, not just code. Any college student worth their salt will have learned to regurgitate hard-coded scripts written in code; I want to see that you have mastered the basics and can create a SYSTEM that will fit in with my game.

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