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  • Using Game Job Boards the Right Way

    [10.29.13]
    - Brice Morrison

  • Step 3: Use the Studio Checklist Method to Stand Out

      
    [Image by mistersnappy, used under Creative Commons License]

    Here's some advice I bet you've heard before: "When you're applying to jobs, use a custom resume and cover letter for each company."

    But what does that mean exactly?

    I'll tell you exactly what it means - it means that when you apply to each company, your resume should reflect what that company and job posting is looking for. To do this, you'll want to use what we at The Game Prodigy call "The Studio Checklist Method".

    This means that when you are surfing on job boards, you need to use their job posting as a checklist to build your cover letter and resume. 

    Let's use the example again from earlier:

    QUALIFICATIONS
    Knowledge of 2D/3D programming
    Knowledge of C / C++
    Strong math and engineering background
    Bachelor's degree in Computer Science or Computer Engineering preferred
    2+ years of programming experience
    Significant experience in hobby or professional game development
    Good communication skills

    Upon reading this, you should literally make it a checklist. The most important items that the studio wants are typically going to be at the top or mentioned two or three times, while the least important items will be at the bottom. With that in mind, an example cover letter might look like this:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    My name is Brice Morrison and I'm excited to apply for the position of Game Programmer. I believe my experience matches what you are looking for. I was the creator of "Mega Banana", a 3D game that was entered into the Independent Games Festival, and "Legend of Melba" a 2D open world exploration game that received over 50,000 plays online. Last year, I was in charge of a semester long C++ project with 3 other students where we made an inventory management program of over 10,000 lines of code. I believe my schoolwork has prepared me well for this position - I currently hold a 3.7 GPA in my math and engineering courses and am majoring in computer science. With my hobby

    Now let's break this down using the Studio Checklist Method to make sure we have everything covered. Look back at the job posting and see if it's all there:

    • Does the cover letter mention "Knowledge of 2D/3D programming"? Yes! "I was the creator of 'Mega Banana', a 3D game that was entered into the Independent Games Festival, and 'Legend of Melba' a 2D open world exploration game that received over 50,000 plays online." - CHECK!
    • Does the cover letter mention "Knowledge of C / C++"? Yes! "Last year, I was in charge of a semester long C++ project with 3 other students where we made an inventory management program of over 10,000 lines of code." CHECK!
    • Does the cover letter mention "Strong math and engineering background"? Yes! "I currently hold a 3.7 GPA in my math and engineering courses" - CHECK!

    You get the idea.

    This should be done for both the cover letter and for the resume, and as a result, each one you send out should be totally unique. After going through each item and searching in your own experience to find matches where possible, you give yourself a much higher chance of success. The studio will see your resume and say, "Wow! This is exactly the guy we are looking for!" This is also the reason you want to build up your skills and career capital as much as you can, so that you have a lot of experiences to pull from to match job board postings you see.

    One important point is that you don't want to lie or exaggerate your skills. Never ever. But what you do want to do is use the job posting to decide which of your skills and experience you want to emphasize on your 

    Don't Stop at the Job Board

    Many students think that job postings are the end of their job search - far from it, they are actually just the beginning. There's one other key technique that I teach my students to find jobs and get offers in our Game Prodigy Newsletter. If you're interested in learning more, head over to The Game Prodigy at the bottom of this article.

    Best of luck!

    [Brice Morrison is a Lead Game Designer and Editor of The Game Prodigy a site for building your game career. Visit for more strategies on how to become a pro game developer.]

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