In addition to the talks and careers advice sessions on offer at EGX Rezzed 2017, attendees were invited to bring their CVs and portfolios along, with plenty of industry experts on hand to offer guidance and insight on how to improve them at the GamesIndustry.biz Careers Fair. To give readers an even better start, we reached out to various developers and publishers to find out their top tips.
David Delve, Talent Acquisition Manager, NaturalMotion
1. Keep your CV limited to three pages maximum. Hiring managers are very busy people and don't have time to read through a lengthy application. Make sure you put your most recent job title and role first, and I can't stress enough how important it is that the layout is clear, simple, and easy to read. Recruiters and hiring managers alike will reject a CV out of hand if it's a struggle to navigate. A good idea is keeping a very brief one-page CV and then a more detailed in depth version which you can elaborate on at interview stage.
2. If applying for an art or creative role, make sure you always include the link to your portfolio on your cover letter and also at the top of your CV - your portfolio and art ability is more important than where you have worked, and this is the first thing recruiters and hiring managers will look at. Make sure you put your best work first and use a hosting site that is popular and easy for users to navigate such as Artstation or Behance. Standing out from the crowd is incredibly important so be bold and creative with your style.
3. Tailoring your cover letter to the role and company you're applying to goes a long way to securing an interview. I've known candidates to do so based on their introduction alone. A well-structured cover letter demonstrates temperament and also the fact that you've done your homework. Stress why you feel you're a good match for the role and pick out a couple of achievements that you're most proud of. An application without a cover letter indicates you may be blanket applying for numerous positions and this can put hiring managers off.
Benjamin Spence, HR Manager, Square Enix Europe
1. Keep it brief - 2 sides of A4 is ample
2. Each job experience entry should list the headline key achievements and responsibilities
3. Target your cover letter for the position
Remember to keep it snappy and brief - the CV and cover letter are the hook to get you to the top of the CV pile and shortlisted for interview.
Michelle Simon, Senior Recruiter at King
1. Keep your CV simple and concise: It's often tempting for creative people to want to over design their CVs, but for a recruiter that screens hundreds of CVs a week it can take the eye away from the content. Keep the typography and layout, clear and simple and make sure the information is concise. Try to refrain from telling your life story and focus on the relevant details. Think of your key achievements and things you are proud of, don't just list responsibilities and daily tasks. Ideally a CV should fit on 2 A4 pages.
2. Check for Spelling and Typos: It doesn't matter what role you are applying for, always be conscious of your grammar and spelling. I often see simple typos in CVs and it is so disappointing. Always use spell check and ask a friend to proofread it.
3. Portfolio: When selecting work for your portfolio, quality over quantity is key. Select at least five of your best projects to showcase, include the initial concept ideas and sketches so that you can take the reviewer through the journey of how you came up with the finished piece.
Kimberly Hacker, Recruitment Manager, Jagex
1. Length & Content: Try to keep your CV to one page (for less than five years of experience) or two (for 10+ years of experience) if possible. I know that some candidates may think, "But I have so much I need to share...! It's really important they know all of this! Why?" Put simply, recruiters and hiring managers are often very busy and don't have as much time as they would like to go through all five, six or seven pages of your CV.
Recruiters and Hiring Managers are looking to see if a CV meets the bulk of the skillsets they need for their open role. Therefore, that summer job you had for six weeks at the garden centre most likely isn't important for them to know when they're considering you for a game engine developer role. Use the page space wisely and try to keep things compact and structured to match the criteria they are seeking.
2. Spelling and Grammar: This is another common pitfall. Many a time have I come across CVs where a candidate proclaims they are 'detail orientated' despite submitting a CV full of spelling and grammar errors. Always print out your CV and hand it to a few trustworthy friends along with a red pen, and ask them to review and mark it up. It's amazing what other people catch that you may have missed, and by doing this it helps ensure your CV is polished and will help increase your chances of passing a first screen review.
3. Gaps: Explain gaps in your CV briefly. If you went traveling for a year after college but don't address that, it can leave a question mark in a recruiter's mind. We wonder: "Hmmm, was this person simply unemployable and therefore could not get a job and ended up coach surfing with their mother, and if so why aren't they employable? Where are the skeletons hidden..." and so forth. Alternatively, if you took time off to start a family, or look after an ailing family member, simply say you took a 'career break' and leave it at that. It's up to candidates to determine how much information they choose to share.
This is just a window into what a recruiter/hiring manager might think when they see these gaps. Therefore, a simple line explaining them eases these potential rabbit holes in a recruiter's mind that might otherwise put you on course for the 'no' pile. Remember, recruiters don't know you like you know yourself (Simple concept. Right?) Stop those potential red flags from the start and address it.
4. Personality: Your personality should show through in a CV and Portfolio. Be yourself, don't pretend to be something you are not - in most cases, the recruiter and hiring manager will see right through it if you do. Be prepared to be asked to 'walk the walk' when you are presenting your portfolio. It's common practice for companies to have assessments of all shapes and sizes so they can see you prove your skills to them. This is a massive opportunity for young artists to prove their skills in artist/graphics roles.
Nick Duncombe, Resource Manager, Playground Games
Short and sweet. CV, and portfolio, content should be relevant and concise, this makes it much easier when we review an application and ensures we get to see important information.
Presentation is key. A well formatted CV and portfolio has an instant impact for a reviewer. It may have taken you years to gain qualifications, experience and examples of work so spend a little extra time making sure they are both easy to understand and aesthetically pleasing.
Accuracy. Portfolio links which don't work, telephone numbers which are a digit short or email addresses with an underscore rather than a hyphen can sometimes mean even the best applications don't get through the review stage.
Emma Smith, Talent Manager, Creative Assembly
We get a lot of applications to work at Creative Assembly. In fact, in 2016, we had around 7,500 of them - but they aren't feverishly filtered by an HR bod locked away in a room matching them against a job description. It's far more in-depth than that.
All of our applications are reviewed by key members of the development team, and they are looking for someone who stands out, who shows a potential for brilliance. Our hiring managers go through all applications, looking at and listening to showreels, reviewing portfolios and personal projects, looking for a glimmer of something exceptional in the submissions they review. This could be anything from a stunning piece of animation to an outstanding case study of anatomy on a character, a piece of concept art with a crafted scene that completely draws you into the story or an idea for a game that takes an unusual, even simple, yet brilliant angle. So whilst there are lots of tips on how to craft a CV and what exactly to put in it, what we are looking for is the person that goes over and above this, who does something a little different, perhaps a little strange, but always fascinating. Make sure the first time our developers hear about you, they see that flash of creative brilliance and passion for gaming in your application that they won't forget.
Caroline Miller, Director, Indigo Pearl
Fuck, I've never had a CV. I literally started at Virgin and my CV would have a had my address and my typing speed on it, then I've always either been head hunted or started my own business. I'm not a CV expert - as for reading them, I really like a charming, personable well researched cover letter that gets my name right.
We also reached out to Oli Welsh, editor of our sister site Eurogamer, for his tips on how to secure a job within the games media. He offered the following advice:
Rather than talk about CVs, I thought I'd discuss a skill crucial to getting work as a games journalist: putting together effective writing samples and article pitches.
- Avoid reviews, if you can. Everyone else does it, editors prefer to work with reviewers they know and trust, the writing needs to be exceptional to stand out from the crowd, and in reviews it's harder to find an original angle.
- When pitching, the originality of the idea is very important. Look for features that haven't been done before, or new approaches to popular topics. It doesn't matter if it sounds obscure or highly specialised - anything that will make an editor go, "oh, that sounds new and interesting".
- Show a willingness to do the legwork. Do research and interviews to back up your point, or if pitching, suggest what research will be needed and who you will talk to. You would be surprised how few would-be journalists do this.
- Show you know how to sell an idea. Whether you're including the full piece or pitching it, have a go at writing a short, attention-grabbing headline or tweet that communicates people will want to click on. You can include a few alternatives if you like - multiple angles are no bad thing.
- Get to the point. When writing a sample, don't waste time with elaborate or personal intros and get your best ideas out there in the first paragraph.