Real Resume Examples That Worked

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This article is part of our Video Game Job Hunt Guide. Read the full guide to learn how to write a strong resume, build a winning portfolio, ace your job interviews and more.

Old typewriter

I typed my gaming resume on this clacker. J/K.

When I applied for my first game studio job back in 2001, I knew that a good resume was important. Naturally I searched the Internet, hoping to find good advice and resume samples that worked. There wasn’t much out there back then. But what little I did find was conflicting and contradictory. Not helpful.

Functional or chronological? Combination or targeted? Formal or creative? MS Word or PDF? It shouldn’t have been so hard to get a straight answer.

That was a long time ago. Today, there’s 100 times more advice out there and it’s 1,000 times more conflicting and contradictory. Still not helpful!

Nothing speaks louder than an example that worked. So I dug through my archives to find actual resumes from people that applied while I was running the engineering department at a mid-sized game studio. They’re all very different in terms of layout, organization and styling, but they all have one important thing in common: They all got hired.

Let’s take a look and see what we can learn from these resumes that are – by definition – winners. I think we’ll see some surprising patterns that can get you hired, too.

(Note: I’ve changed the details of the names/genders, schools, games, and so on to protect the privacy of the applicants. But the layouts, overall structure and tone are intact.)

Tip: type any job title, keywords, company, or location

Video Game Resume #1: Game student with broad tastes and diverse systems experience

Download (Game-Programmer-Resume-A.pdf)

Why did this game programmer resume catch my eye?

  • It’s hard to find a candidate who’s good at programming systems as well as gameplay. This candidate has done both.
  • He lists a fairly diverse batch of genres and scopes in his “favorite games” section. The studio I was hiring for had 12 teams all working on different types of games, so I wanted somebody who wouldn’t be a snob about what kinds of games they worked on.
  • I gravitate toward coders that have experience in different roles on a team, such as designer and producer. It helps them see things from the viewpoint of the non-engineers on their team, which makes them a better communicator.

Video Game Resume #2: Computer geek with leadership potential

Download (Game-Programmer-Resume-B.pdf)

What did I find intriguing about this engineering resume?

  • I often look for candidates that could become lead programmers later in their career. This candidate was working at a retail store, and hints that leadership and customer support – two things that make for a great team lead – might be a strong suit.
  • There are hints that the candidate might enjoy the process of planning software – UML, task lists, etc. – in addition to coding it. That’s a good sign for a potential project lead.
  • I’m not thrilled with the giant “core competencies” section that lists every piece of software ever touched. I get it, it’s not for me. It’s for the search engines. But I don’t recommend it. It wastes a lot of space without helping me understand what makes the candidate special.

Video Game Resume #3: Graphics specialist with strong 3D math chops

Download (Game-Programmer-Resume-C.pdf)

This is a really strong game developer resume.

  • For starters, he has a degree from a game school and experience in QA on a professional game team. His time in QA will have given him insight into the game dev process, and shows he’s passionate enough to do a non-programming job if that’s what it takes to break in.
  • Through all of his projects, he tackled complicated 3D-math-heavy features. That’s a good sign that he’s smart and motivated. Also, a surprising number of game programmers aren’t great with 3D math, so it’s always handy to have a ringer on the team.
  • He’s heavy on graphics experience. At the time, the studio I was hiring for was low on good graphics programmers. He’s applied at the right place at the right time.

Common Threads

These game developer resumes are very different. And in reality, the candidates went on to have very different career paths, each built around their individual strengths and interests. So at first it might seem there’s not a lot you can learn by studying them.

But from a higher-level view, they actually have a lot in common.

  1. They all have a degree from a video game school. That’s not a requirement, but it helped me feel more confident that they know what they’re doing.
  2. They all have experience working on real projects with real teams. Even if it’s just part of their schooling, it’s important to show they have the social and team skills to work under a deadline – without killing themselves or their teammates.
  3. They all have qualities that I was specifically looking for, for my specific studio and teams. It might seem that it’s hard to know what a hiring manager is looking for. But you can always do a little research to find out what a studio needs, then orient your resume to highlight that portion of your skill set.

The Surprising Lesson

Those are the similarities. But maybe there’s something to learn from the differences? Sure, they all have completely different layouts and formatting. But they all get their point across. They show who they are, and what they can do.

And they all got hired.

So the real lesson might be this: The layout of your resume isn’t as important as everyone wants you to think. It’s the content that counts, not the tabs, fonts and margins. Fonts don’t get you hired! Being awesome gets you hired. Show them who you are, why you’re great, and why they should hire you. Get that part right, and nothing else matters.

Tip: type any job title, keywords, company, or location

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Image: Just2shutter/freedigitalphotos.net

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25 comments on “Real Resume Examples That Worked
  1. sara says:

    oh great and helpful post

  2. Patrik says:

    Super helpful! This site rules.

  3. Gabor says:

    Hello, I’m looking for a good CV tamplate for a game tester job but I don’t find any on the web. I want to be a game designer but I don’t have any videogame related qualification yet. Can you help me?

  4. James says:

    I just wanted to comment that this was really useful information! However, I am kind of curious as to where someone would put modding experience? I though maybe under Professional, but if you are modding games -more specifically solo- then it seems it might defeat the purpose?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      It’s okay that it’s not “professional” experience – you’re still learning the tools and practicing your game design skills, and you still have something to show for it. I wouldn’t put it under a heading called “Professional,” but maybe put it under a heading called “Projects.”

  5. Garron Johnson says:

    Cool.Do you know if a minor or art would help get mme hired (for game designer)

  6. Jason says:

    I have a lot to learn.

  7. cat says:

    I’m sure this may be due to them mostly being students, but I noticed no actual “job” history on most of these. What if I’ve had several jobs that aren’t relevant to the field? Should those still be included, or should managers simply be part of references?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Cat, actually all 3 resumes do have some jobs listed, maybe it’s not obvious since I “fictionalized” the company names to hide the identity of the people that own the resumes. #1 had a previous job as a software tester, #2 worked at a retail computer store, and #3 had two different software tester jobs.

      You’ll want to list 1 or 2 jobs in your history, even if they aren’t relevant. The reason for this is to 1) show that you have some experience working at a company, 2) can hold down a job and 3) hopefully you can spin the jobs into seeming relevant – for example your past jobs might have given you the chance to “work well unsupervised” or “listen and respond to the needs of customers.” See what I mean?

  8. Anthony Russo says:

    I am in my senior year of college majoring in Video Game Design. I have worked as a Video Editor at the School of Excellence. I am also interested in Game Tester Jobs as well. I create my own Anime Videos and am very good with matching music to Videos. That also interest me. I would love some helpful hints as far as moving forward so I know what direction to lean when I graduate in two more semesters. Thank you so much for any assistance you can offer.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Anthony, since you’re majoring in game design, I would expect you’ll be able to get a job as a Game Designer! Build up your design portfolio as much as you can while you’re in school so you can show employers your skills, and then you can start applying for game design jobs a few months before you graduate.

  9. Wolvenworks says:

    While I find your article much amusing, it doesn’t help my condition; that guy that has no experience nor college degree, but has the passion, ideas, and concept for a game. What would you suggest I do, noting that going to a school is out of the question since I can’t fund it?

    Damn I sound like I’m describing a Hard-mode level =|

  10. You could always just show up with a briefcase full of porn you drew…

  11. Raena says:

    Hello! I am a high school student and from what I see here, a resume to work in the game industry is very different from the usual resume but, what I want to know is that, would a traditional resume work as well? I’m very passionate about video games but, I’m not sure how I would prepare for the video game industry.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Raena, there isn’t a “standard” resume – there are many different ways you can do a resume. The important thing is to make sure your resume shows your work history, education, and experience in a clear way so hiring managers can easily see whether you might fit the job. The way to prepare for the game industry is very different depending on which job you’re interested in, so I recommend you start with the video game careers page and see if one of those might be a good fit for you.

  12. Harrison Gutteridge says:

    Hi Jason,

    I am a student currently on a placement in my 3rd year of University. I want to get a financial role in a gaming company. Something analytical preferably and I was wondering what sort of way I should go about it.

    I am trying to find a placement in a gaming company and I was wondering if you had any advice.

    I’ve also tried to connect on Linkedin

    Thanks

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Smaller game companies may not have dedicated roles for Finance people, but larger game companies and game publishers sometimes have small to mid-sized finance groups. You might start by targeting larger companies like EA, Nintendo, Amazon, Microsoft.

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