I should start this post with this is entirely from my own perspective and my own experience, and by no means should this be taken as gospel, as other opinions may vary. I also assume that many others have written similar articles, however over the last year especially, I have received a lot of poor applications that, with a little advice, could have been so much better. I'm also a Creative Director, so some of my opinions may be more applicable to Creative Jobs, as appose to Technical or other business areas.
This post is dedicated to the passionate and talented individuals who are:
- Striving to find their dream job in Games and make their stamp on this exciting industry, and
- Victims of the ridiculous ‘lay-off' mentality of this industry, and by no fault of their own, find themselves looking for alternative employment.
YOUR Window of Opportunity
This may sound obvious but this is YOUR first chance to make an impression. It's YOUR chance to sell yourself to an individual / company and prove to them that YOU are better equipped for the role than possibly hundreds of others that have applied for the same position.
Note the over-emphasised 'YOU' there... that's because YOU are writing this... NOT your Mother, and not your University Lecturer! I'm not saying don't take other people's advice, but make sure that it is YOU telling YOUR story, and not some generic template.
Be straight to the point and unique! Don't waffle (as they say here in the UK); don't use ten words when one will do. Not only does this make it easier to digest, but it also gives you more room to say other things. I generally don't like to see CVs (résumés) that are more than 2 sides of A4.
Keep the format simple. I remember receiving a small pretty box in the post. In the box was a folded print-format CV and a Kit-Kat (chocolate candy if you don't have it in the US). I ate the Kit-Kat, but the CV wasn't very good so I threw it a way. Now of course I still remember this, but I remember it because of the trouble the individual must have gone to, yet I still wish that the individual would have put the time into writing a good CV, as appose to hiding everything with a pretty box and chocolate. If you're going to go that far, make sure you can back it up with the basics!
Links! If there's a reference to something, add the link! This includes your Blog, your Twitter account, previous company websites, game downloads, Youtube videos, whatever! Just make it as easy as possible for the reader to find your stuff!
Humour! Most people I've met in games have a sense of humour. Not always to my taste granted, but everyone is an individual. Don't go overboard with humour, but definitely try to reflect a positive personality in your CV. The reader needs to feel like they would have fun working with you!
As above, Form Follows Function (the 3 F's) - the CV needs to be incredibly easy to digest, allowing the reader to quickly find the information that is relevant to them. In general, I like the following structure spread across two pages:
- Lead with title, contact details (including website, blog, twitter etc.)
- Personal Description / Statement / About Me / Profile
- Skills List
- Previous Game Titles / Accolades / Accomplishments (inc. links to downloads / websites)
- Employment History (also include career milestones / accomplishments)
- Personal Interests
The first few lines of your CV. State your name (how you like to be referred to!). If your name is Dave Smith, please don't put 'David William Smith Esq'! (Unless of course you're being funny)
Add a very short one line 'slogan', how you may be described in the industry, that also gets across immediately what it is you do.
A reader at this stage does not need to know your full postal address, but they DO need to have an idea of your location. If you're willing to move to a new city for the job, find out where they are and add that, and then when you get to interview, explain you're in the process of moving.
Add a mobile number and EXPECT a call! That means if you're applying for a job and they have your mobile number, make sure you answer said calls with enthusiasm and confidence, and NOT like you just rolled out of bed. I myself like to speak to people on the phone before inviting them in to the studio - it gives me a heads up, even if it's just to arrange a time and date.
Social Networks and Blogs - make sure you have at least one social network that you use regularly, and make sure there are posts regarding games. It doesn't have to be industry stuff... just games stuff. Most modern games have built-in social networking functionality... use it! It gives employers the impression you're obsessed with gaming and you like to share your passion.
Portfolio - this can be a Blog site, a YouTube Channel, a Facebook page... it doesn't matter. If you've done work, link to it. These days there is no excuse to not having an online presence.