Resume Critique: Entry Level Gameplay Programmer

Resume Critique: Entry Level Gameplay Programmer

I’ve offered to do resume critiques for people and somebody took me up on my offer. He has generously allowed me to post the critique publicly. I hope it provides those of you seeking to join the game industry at the entry level some insight if you are working on your own resumes.

Remember, as a hiring manager I’m looking for three specific things:

  1. You want the job
  2. You know how to do the job
  3. You have experience doing the job already

Everything in the resume should be geared towards this. Here is an actual gameplay programmer job requirements that Funcom posted recently on Gamasutra:

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We can put aside the “3+ years of professional experience” for now. X years is almost never an absolute requirement, as long as you can prove that you can do the job. The best way to do that is by showing us you’ve already done it in various forms. Now, let’s move on to the resume itself:

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The objective isn’t bad, but it’s a little too wordy. You’re not applying for a design position, and it is unlikely they will consider you for one if you apply as a gameplay programmer. Try to pare it down to something like “Gameplay programming position with emphasis on collaboration with art/design team”. An objective should be quick. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence, it should just tell me you are looking for the job I am hiring for.

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So the big thing that is a potential red flag is that you worked for only six weeks on Hanse. Most studios don’t hire people for only six weeks unless they fire them. If you had a job title on there like “Intern”, it wouldn’t raise the red flag because we know interns tend to be temporary. But if you were hired on as a permanent employee only to be let go six weeks later, that might be cause for alarm.

Your work experience portion is a little too wordy here too. If I’m in HR/recruiting, I have a list of key words I’m looking for in the resumes I read. Prose makes me have to wade through it before I can find out whether you’re worth calling back. Most good resumes today primarily use bullet points. Here’s a template I use in my own resume. You should notice that it provides most of the relevant information about the job without needing to read too much.

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For example, I’d rewrite your work at Hanse like this:

  • Refactored and debugged core game mechanics
    • AI-Trader Behavior
    • Goods-price simulation
    • Family relationships (ed: maybe mention you worked on the UI portion, if I am reading this right)
  • QA and bug fixing (ed: would like a little more about what exactly this entails)

I’m also not entirely convinced that I want hyperlinks here, especially since you have a portfolio website linked above in your contact information block (redacted here for privacy). It isn’t a deal breaker, but it doesn’t really make me feel positively either.

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You might want to call this section “Personal Game Projects” to differentiate it from your paid work experience. You can probably drop the introductory text. You’re about to list them all anyway, so why make me read extra words if I don’t have to? Next, you should probably use the same template I suggested above for these as well. Since you probably didn’t commercially release these, you can probably just use special key words like Unreal Engine 4 or Unity in place of Platform.

Also, don’t add a description of the game itself. I’m not looking for a game recommendation to play this weekend. I’m trying to determine if you can do the job, so I only care about what you did on the project (not your teammates) and how those duties are relevant to the job I am hiring for. Here’s how I would rewrite your “Warriors and Serfs” section:

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Remember, you’re trying to make it easy for the reader to know exactly what you did without having to read extra words. A recruiter at a big studio will often read dozens, if not hundreds of resumes a week. You want to make it as easy on them as possible.

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You might want to move your education section to the top just beneath your objective and drop the “Formal” word from it. For veterans like me, my education/degree doesn’t matter as much as my work experience. For entry level candidates without much experience, having a relevant degree can be important. In your skills section, I’d probably cut the “Basics of: “ part. If you aren’t comfortable or confident in your ability to perform a skill in a professional environment, don’t put it on your resume. If it’s on your resume, it’s fair game to ask about at an interview.

Now that we’ve been through your resume, let’s go back to that Funcom job posting and see how you measure up.

Requirements:

  • Good C++ skills: You should probably explicitly mention working in C++ in some of your projects. Hiring managers like me would know that Unreal Engine 4 uses C++, but HR might not.
  • Working knowledge of 3D Math/Trig: Not seeing it.
  • Strong Communication skills: Presumably, you would mention collaborating with team members in your other projects

So far you’re at least 2/3, possibly 3/3 if you can show me you did some cool 3D math stuff. You want to make sure to show that you can hit all of the requirements in the job description since they are requirements.

Desirable:

  • Experience with Unreal Engine 4 and Blueprints: I didn’t see Blueprints mentioned specifically, but you’ve done some work in UE4. Thumbs up. Especially if you can show some blueprint experience into there as well
  • Experience working with consoles: Guessing it’s a no here. We primarily want to know whether you’ve had to deal with stuff like cert before.
  • Bachelor degree or equivalent in computer science: You’re good
  • Experience working on one or more released titles: Your Headup games internship may be relevant here. Thumbs up.
  • Prior experience working on multiplayer games: Thumbs up.

Four out of five is pretty good.

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Overall, I think you’ve got the makings of a solid resume that can definitely earn some callbacks. I think you’re probably pretty good on being able to do an entry-level gameplay programming job skillwise. However, you probably need to spend some time on formatting and simplifying so that both HR recruiters and hiring managers can see the good, relevant stuff you’ve done more easily. Don’t make us hunt for the stuff we want to know in your resume. Thanks for agreeing to do this publicly. Good luck with your job hunting!


The FANTa Project is currently on hiatus while I am crunching at work too busy.

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Resume Critique: Entry Level Gameplay Programmer

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