Develop recently ran a story asking game developers of some resume/CV failures. There were some great stories, so I thought I’d share some and some advice. Having recently been the person to review all incoming resumes, I got my fair share of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to resumes, portfolios, and general attempts to get hired. Here are some of my instant failures and advice to give yourself a chance at landing a call back.
Get a Professional Email Address
This might be a pet peeve of mine, but if you are attempting to get a job ANYPLACE, don’t use the same email address that you registered for when you were 12 when you needed one to setup your MySpace account. FreakyWeed69@domain.com is not going attract the right attention. Since most resumes have your personal information at the top, you are already losing before those reviewing even get to anything skillset related.
Don’t Be Too Creative with Your Resume
Resumes are there to provide your work history, and your portfolio is to provide evidence of your skills. Don’t mix the two. I can remember one resume being all black with white text and it murdering the printer and we couldn't write notes on it. Another having a graphic that took up 50% of the first page. One artist decided to rotate each job 45°, so you would have to rotate the resume to read it.
There are lots of creative people out there and it is understandable that one would want to make their resume stand out from the others, but there are creative ways to get the attention you want and not by sacrificing the ability to read your resume.
Keep your resume simple, easy to read, and in chronological order. If you are an artist, add flare on your portfolio page (more on that later).
Spell Check. Grammar Check. Seriously!
In today’s age, it is sad when you find a resume full of spelling errors. I’m not talking about spelling center as centre, the misplaced space, or your not sure where to put that oxford comma to make you look smarter. I’m talking about opening the document up in Word and seeing red squiggly lines all over the place. Spelling errors just come across as a lack of effort, especially on a resume when you are trying to impress. If you are that lazy to not correct spelling errors on your resume, what else are you going to slack on?
Take time to spell check your resume. Make sure there aren’t any obvious spelling errors in it. Give it to a friend or family member to review it. It is better for your friends or family to make fun of you, than find your resume in the trash because you said you worked at Ninteondo.
File Formats. Word or PDF (maybe)…
People tend to send their resume in all types of different formats which becomes a pain as most companies are using some type of application tracking software (ATS) such as TheResumator, Jobvite, or tons of other options out there. What these systems do is extract data from your resume to make searching easier for the recruiter and staff. Sending a resume as an image file such as a JPG, PNG, GIF, or anything else doesn’t allow these systems to read your resume. When I was working with a system like this, if a submission came up blank, I’d ignore it. I have other resumes to review as well as tons of other things to do.
Even if you hate Word, send your resume as a doc or docx file format. Pretty much every word processing program including Word, Pages, Google Docs, OpenOffice, libreoffice, and others support saving as doc or docx. If you are all bent out of shape by even using the doc or docx format, then you can use a PDF though don’t be shocked if someone asks you to update it.
Don’t Apply for Everything!
Companies that are growing will hopefully have lots of job listings, but don’t take that as fair game to apply for everything. As I said above most companies will be using an ATS to track incoming resumes. When you see one name over and over again applying for every position no matter the discipline or level, it is clear that they probably aren’t qualified for any of them.
If you think you are a good fit for a position listed, apply for it. If your applying for a position that you are under-qualified for back it up with your resume, portfolio, and cover letter. But don’t spam your resume to every position listed in the hope that you will get contacted.
Do Some Research Before You Apply
Do some basic research in the company and games you submit your resume. Really, just take a half hour to read the history of the company, go to the wikipedia page, read an interview, and play the some of the most recent games they have released. Or if you are that hard up, then watch a Twitch stream of someone else playing it. I remember asking one person what games they play, which they answered all the hot ones in the moment, so I asked what they thought about our most recent game and their answer was they couldn’t afford it, even though the game was a free-to-play game. Upon bringing that to their attention it was apparent that they really had no idea about the company and the games we were making. Just another company to throw a resume at.
If you didn’t have the time to play a game, don’t try to wiggle your way out of it, just say you didn’t. If you did enough research you will be able to ask questions back, make the interviewer present you with a question that you can answer.
But my Portfolio!
If you are a content creator then a good portfolio can sometimes be the difference between getting contacted and put into the trash bin. Here are some of the common issues and improvements that aren’t that painful to add to your portfolio.
Just Let Quicktime Die!
There is nothing that makes me cringe when going to a portfolio than having to install some random piece of software to view someone’s reel. Let Quicktime die! If you are exporting a video and putting it on your portfolio as a .mov, you have already failed. Recruiters might try to go through the pain to get it to work, but when they hand it off to the lead or hiring manager, they are too busy to deal with that stuff. They will open up the link in a browser and if they don’t instantly see something awesome, they are already thinking of the next candidate.
If you need to have video on your portfolio, then post your content in something that will playback without having to worry about what browser the person watching has. Upload to YouTube, or if you need extra security due to NDA then Vimeo is a great option. Both allow cut and paste embeds into your website. If you don’t want to host it on other sites, then you can always export as an MP4 and the video will play back in HTML5 browsers and HTML5 video players.
Find a Web Host and Test Your Content
This kind of repeats what was said above about Quicktime, but this is a little more about the vast options you have to express yourself when it comes to your portfolio. You could pay sites such as Carbonmade, Dunked, 4ormat and countless other options. You could use Wordpress.com or even host your own Wordpress site which would allow you to create your own theme or use some of the thousands of custom themes many of which are free.
Your online portfolio gives you the ability to instantly impress people, either by the design or by the content it contains. Just throwing images up on a website won’t cut it these days, so give your online portfolio the attention it deserves.
Update Your Portfolio. As Often as You Can.
This is something I even have trouble with, as finding the time to create content just for your website is hard. There are so many other things you could be doing, but there is something really impressive about someone taking their own time to update their portfolio even when they aren’t looking for a job. If you are doing something cool, there is even a chance that someone will contact you when you aren’t looking for a job!
While some of those tips might sound simple, people are still doing them and in great numbers. Your resume, cover letter, and porfolio is your chance to impress someone and should all be given the attention they deserve. Invest in them, and it will pay you back in the end.
Hopefully I followed my own advice and have no glaring spelling errors.