Games Game March 2010
Each month, industry veteran Tom Sloper provides career guidance to game biz wannabes, newbies, and junior professionals with the goal of helping them break into the industry, and stay in. Submit a question to Tom for developer-oriented advice in this column (IGDA members only).
What's the Trick To Avoid Getting Filtered Out? (March 2010)
There are many schools of thought on how best to arrange a résumé and what exactly should go in it. But your résumé isn't likely to get filtered out just because of the way it's laid out, or due to a poor choice of filler material.
First we go through and just look at the email containing the résumé, to see which job (which specialty) the applicant is applying for. Then, having selected the ones applying for the job we're hiring for, we look at the résumé itself. We don't look at the portfolio unless the résumé fits our criteria. Every hirer has different criteria, so some folks might not do it the way I do it.
The things I really look for when filtering résumés are:
Nobody expects a lot in the résumé of a recent graduate. You're brand-new, so of course you don't have much, if any, actual work experience. But if you have the right degree and the right focus, and if we're considering raw candidates, then I might forward you on to the department manager. Or if the department manager needs me to also filter portfolios, then I'd check out your portfolio too. If it's too far removed from what we're looking for, then you're out of the running.
If we're willing to take a raw graduate, that doesn't mean we're willing to deal with the additional bother of interviewing and hiring an out-of-towner. Much less someone from another state or country. So actually, that's usually the first thing I look at on the résumé -- where you live. If you didn't give an address, then I look for clues, like the area code of your phone number, the location of the college you graduated from. If you're applying to be an artist, you've just graduated from a 2-year art school, and you live in another state, then I don't need to look at your portfolio. Because we can find truckloads of good artists just like you right here in town.
So there's no special trick to writing the résumé. It's what's IN the résumé, not how you write it, that's important. It's about who you are and what you have to offer. No résumé trickery can hide that from us. If you're raw, the real trick is to be qualified, and to be local. If you're experienced, there is no trick.
Please note that there is no guarantee that Tom will be able to respond to all the questions he receives. It is up to his discretion which questions he uses for this column. For further advice and resources, check out the IGDA's discussion forums, the Breaking In web site and the Students & Newbies Outreach section.
Tom Sloper's game biz career began over twenty years ago at Western Technologies, where he designed LCD games and the Vectrex games "Spike" and "Bedlam". There followed stints at Sega Enterprises, Rudell Design, Atari Corporation, and Activision. In 12 years at Activision, Tom produced 36 unique game titles (plus innumerable ports and localizations), designed four games, and won five awards. Tom worked for several months in Activision's Japan operation, in Tokyo. He is perhaps best known for designing, managing and producing Activision's "Shanghai" line. He is currently consulting, writing, speaking, teaching, and developing original games. Find out more at Sloperama.
© 2010 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.