Resume and Interview Tips


I've read a lot of programmer resumes and I've interviewed a lot of candidates. No one likes job-hunting, but you should at least give yourself a fighting chance. Here are a few tips from my experience being on the other side of the table.

  • If you use a third-party service to apply for jobs you should know that many of them will reformat and re-write your resume to fit their standard template. You should always ask to see the reformatted version before they send it out. I'm pretty sure that most candidates that I interview through these services wouldn't be impressed with the quality of these reformatted resumes. I'm not.

  • Use a spell checker. Please. Having spelling mistakes and typos in your resume is lazy when you probably used a computer to write it in the first place.

  • If you are writing a resume in a language that is not your first language, find someone who is a native speaker to proof-read your work. I often let these slide because having done it, I know how difficult it is to learn a new language and represent yourself well. Still, sweat the details if you want the job.

  • Try to keep all the important stuff on one page. Really. Six page resumes are an instant buzz-kill. I've never been impressed by something on page five. Respect other people's time.

  • If you are applying to many companies at once, you should customize your resume for each one. If they are looking for someone who has experience in C# and Unity3D, try to focus on how you've used those technologies in your work history or personal projects. Taking the extra time to focus your resume on the appropriate skills will catch the resume reviewer's interest. Just make sure if you get the interview that you can back it up.

  • Looking for a job as a game programmer but you don't have any experience making games? Go make some small solo games or participate in a few Game Jams to build team experience and small a portfolio.

When you do score an interview:

  • You sent your resume and you got a call back, so act like you want the job when you show up for the interview. Otherwise, just politely decline or cancel the interview if you've got second thoughts. The person interviewing you probably has a busy day with all of their normal tasks to do. When the interview is over and they show you out, you don't want them to think, "Well, that was a waste of my time. Ugh."

  • Practice. Remember, while it's not always fun, each interview you do will make you better at the next one. Take them all seriously.

  • Do your homework on the products that the company makes. If you are applying for a job at company X, you should know all about the products that company X makes. You want to work there right?

  • Come prepared with a list of questions for your reviewer. What is a day in the life like for someone who is already doing the job you are applying for? If you are applying for a programming job, and you are being interviewed by a lead or senior programmer, don't be afraid to spar a bit. To an interviewer, no questions usually signals that the candidate isn't really interested in working for them.

  • Don't be afraid to tell the interviewer what you are looking for. An interview could be the start of a long relationship between you and company X.

  • Follow-up. After it's all over, call back and thank the HR contact or your interviewer for their time.

Now, Go get'em tiger!

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