How to Write a Game Programmer CV
by Mina Machacek
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Your CV is a crucial aspect of landing your dream job in the games industry. Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of game programmer CVs land on our desks from all corners of the globe. We’ve seen it all - the good, the bad and the ugly - but most importantly, we’ve seen what it takes on a CV to get that essential first interview.
The following is advice we would give to a game programmer with little time to spare to get their CV up-to-scratch before you send it out to video games companies and games recruiters.
Keep it simple. Only the necessary personal information should be included on a CV, and this should be included at the top of the first page.
✔ Your name, phone number and email address should be included. Your location is also important to highlight as well as your willingness to relocate to other areas, and your preference to work from an office or remotely.
✔ Ensure that all information is correct and there are no errors in your contact information otherwise it's unlikely you will receive that call you are hoping for.
✘ We’ve seen many CVs that include a bunch of personal information that adds no value to a job application or the decision-making process. Every word on your CV must be valuable, don’t waste space with irrelevant personal information such as your marital status, physical attributes or birthday – these don’t contribute to any evidence of your programming ability.
Your experience is the best place to show evidence that you’ve got what it takes to be considered for the role. This section should focus on your achievements, specific details about the roles and the responsibilities that have been carried out.
✔ Don’t be generic when it comes to the experience section – always give specific information into the process. This may involve drawing attention to anything of real importance, highlighting what you were actually responsible for and showing the timescales and team structures/sizes.
✔ Always list your experience with the most recent first as this is generally the most relevant to the hiring manager and means they don’t have to search to see what you are currently doing.
✘ Don’t just list your past roles over the last few years, make sure that you highlight your main contributions to the game and your responsibilities through a short paragraph or bullet points.
This is your chance to really highlight your passion for games and programming, as well as your skills and technologies that you have a handle on. Not to mention, it’s also a great way to call attention to your interests, willingness to learn, and proactive can-do attitude.
✔ Apply the same principles are the Experience section above with the most recent first, as well as highlighting your achievements and responsibilities. Share both your completed personal gaming projects and work in progress.
✘ If you are adding links to your CV, never send it off without ensuring that they actually work. There is nothing worse than coming across a CV with broken links – it’s an instantly off-putting to a hiring manager or a recruiter.
Your technical skills are important, but it’s essential to not go overboard with them. Briefly summarise your skills in a list on the front page, but all in all, your skills and how you have implemented them will already be highlighted prominently through your experience and side projects section.
✔ Only list the skills, software, tools and languages that you are knowledgeable with and feel comfortable using. There is no need to list skills that you are not proficient or have only had minimal exposure in.
✘ Don’t list everything. Less is more in this section so don’t include any generic or basic skills (e.g. Microsoft Office), it isn’t productive. Also, avoid listing redundant skills, only list the highest level or latest evolution of a skill, language or tool. E.g. If you know CSS3, it would be expected that you know CSS so there is no need to include it in your list.
A cover letter isn’t always necessary unless specifically requested in the job application. However, if you do decide to include a cover letter, make sure that it’s tailored for every application. The cover letter needs to be specific for the job you are applying for and why you want to work for that company.
✔ A cover letter should be no more than two paragraphs long because people tend to switch off. People like to go to the heart of the matter and that’s your CV, LinkedIn, StackOverflow, etc. They’re not interested in the sales pitch, they’re interested in the facts and quality of your experience in the games industry.
✔ You will be better off including a personal statement about yourself on your CV, rather than submitting a cover letter with every application. Your personal statement should give a short overview of yourself, summarise your skills and experience, and sell yourself. Keep it short and concise.
✘ Do not include a generic cover letter, you’re better off submitting nothing at all.
The presentation of your CV is what the hiring manager will see at first glance. Your CV should have a clear layout and design that is easy to scan and draw out the important information. Try to be concise with your CV and keep it to no more than 2 pages long.
✔ Make sure your CV is clean and readable with a nice, modern font. We suggest choosing a simple sans-serif font that reflects your personality and easy to read. Keep the flow consistent with no more than 2 different fonts and only a couple of different sized fonts.
✔ A photo used to be the ultimate no-no on any CV but times have changed. Your future employer is going to see a photo of you whether it be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Github, or on your CV so we don’t see any issues with it. It’s completely up to you whether you would like to include a portrait of yourself. If you do, just make sure that it’s nice, professional and good quality.
✘ Avoid trying to squash the content in order to fit more information on the page. Smaller font size, tighter line spacing and large margins will make your CV appear cluttered and hard to read. White space is ideal.
While some people don’t like to include anything outside of business on a CV, we like it. We believe this is your time to show your personality and add a human touch. After all, most games studios are huge on culture fit.
✔ List 3-4 hobbies or interesting facts about you
✘ Try to avoid anything overly controversial or cliché
Save yourself the time and use one of our free Game Programmer CV templates. Simply download the templates, tailor the text to your own experience and job application and you're ready to go land your dream job in the games industry.
Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first impression so use it wisely. While your passion for games goes a long way, it is your CV that will get you that important first interview. Be sure to apply these quick tips to your CV before you send it out to help score the games job you want!