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  • Putting Together a Compelling Resume and Demo

    - Robin McShaffry
  • Game industry human resources (HR) offices are popular places. Every job listing you see gets dozens of responses per day. That's hundreds of resumes in the system per week, and for the very large or very hot companies, thousands. There are a few well-tested recommendations that will get your resume seen and produce results. Your resume should compel someone to contact you to learn more about you. It doesn't need to land you the job.


    Follow the Rules

    Employment web pages and job postings are usually pretty clear about how they want you to submit your resume and samples. If the site says "text resumes only," that means exactly what it says. Resumes and samples that don't follow the rules, whatever they are, get about as far as the delete folder. Follow any and all directions given, whether that's a file-naming convention, a delivery method, or a file type. Understand that the rules are there to make hiring you easier for everyone.

    Easy to Read

    It's commonly said that you have about 10 seconds to impress. Remember that most resumes are scanned by HR and hiring managers before they are ever thoroughly read.

    Make sure your resume is easy to scan. Highlight the main ideas -- use bullet points, numbering, and bold headings. Eyes glaze over at the sight of many paragraphs. But a bulleted format can be read much faster and more easily. Don't use too small a font size (anything less than 10 is too small). Be sure to leave plenty of white space. Most importantly, stress your competitive advantage and differentiate yourself from the competition right off the top with a short list of relevant skills, or two or three achievement highlight bullets.

    Don't go overboard on fancy graphic design. Many hiring managers agree that the resume is the place for information, not artistic expression. Your portfolio is the place for art. However, do try to use larger fonts for the more important lines on your resume (name, job title, categories). Use tabs to have important elements line up so they are easy to scan. For instance, have your employment dates all aligned on the left or right border. When in doubt, a professional resume service, such as Blue Sky Resumes, can help pull all your information together into a cohesive format.


    A resume should be as long as it needs to be. If you are cutting important details to get all your information on one page, then one page too short. On the other hand, if you are padding your resume with how much you like to water ski, that's a little long. Be succinct, but get all your information across. If your resume does end up longer than one page, make sure to put your name and contact information on every page. If your pages become separated, an unidentified page will be tossed.


    The Medium

    Most resumes these days are emailed, either in the body of the email or as a Word .doc attachment. Most hiring managers do not prefer .pdf since not everyone uses it (think internationally) and it takes a long time to load up. Always give your files descriptive names and never send your resume in a file called "resume.doc."

    Remember your other files, too. Don't use "samples.jpg," "projects.xls," or "references.doc" either. Think about the thousands of files that companies receive every day. Instead, make sure all your files are named with your first and last name: JaneSmithResume.doc is a great way to start.

    If you deliver a printed resume, it will be part of a larger package that will probably include a CD of samples and a personalized cover letter. Stick with good quality white paper and make sure everything is neat and correctly printed. Make a printed label for your disk, and give your presentation a lot of polish.


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