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RESUMES…. a quick “how to”


Sheri Graner Ray

There has been a lot of activity lately with people asking me how to write a resume.  I usually send this out to them, but for now I decided I would post it here.  You are welcome to print it out and use it, if you keep my name with it.. Thanks and good luck in the job searches!

People always want to know how to write a resume for a job. The problem is, you shouldn’t be writing a resume for ALL jobs. You should be writing a resume for EACH job you apply for. That may seem like a lot of work, but you can develop a template that you can then adjust for each job you are applying for.


You must adjust your resume for each job you apply for. Otherwise you end up sending “generic” resumes. Generic resumes usually list all the jobs you’ve ever had with a long listing of all the responsibilities you’ve had in those jobs. These require the potential employer to sift through your resume to see if there might be anything there that matches what they are looking for.

Employers won’t do this.

They will scan the top half of the resume to see if there is anything there that catches their eye, then they will flip through the other pages and, in less than 30 seconds if they haven’t seen something that really catches their eye, your resume ends up in the slush pile.
You need to tell the employer just how well you fit into their job requirement in the first 5 seconds they look at your resume. How can you do this?

Here’s how….

STEP ONE –  Build your pool of qualifications.

To do this, sit down and make a list of all the things you’ve done in your professional life that you are proud of.

Yes.. all of ’em.

This is simply the hardest part of writing any resume. It’s the part that takes the longest and it’s the part people just won’t or can’t seem to do –  and yet it is the heart of a successful resume.

The reason it’s so hard to do is most people (particularly women) are hesitant to “blow their own horn.” But, it simply is not possible to get that great job if you can’t convince people that you are worth hiring!

So, make that list. Think of what things you’d tell your grandmother or your favorite aunt about if they asked about your jobs.

Look at your old resume, the one with your job history and start at the oldest job. List two or three specific things you did at each job that you are proud of. If you have trouble thinking of these things, think of what you would say if your grandma asked what you did at that job. The list may look like this.

Sylvia’s Casuals dress shop
1.Top sales recognition
2. Won Christmas sales competition
3. Employee of the month

Now go back and look at the list. If there is a number and or a date you can associate with each bullet point, add it. If there is an award name, or certificate title, add it. Keep it to one sentence if possible, two short sentences at the VERY longest.

So from the example above:

Sylvia’s Casual dress shop
1. Top sales recognition for fiscal quarter 2001 with $8500.00 in sales
2. Won top sales competition for Christmas 2001 season with $2200.00 in sales and a customer service rating of 9.8
3. Received “Employee of the Month” award for Jan 2001. Award given based upon customer approval reports combined with sales figures.

STEP TWO – Build the Resume

Now you have developed your qualification pool to draw from and are ready to go on and build your resume.

Name and contact information
This is SOOO important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received resumes that had NO contact information on it! Some people will put an objective here. Hopefully you have told me what job you are interested in, in your cover letter. But if you have not, then you can put it here under your contact information. Just make sure you customize is EXACTLY for the job you are applying for. An objective statement of “A job working with people that utilizes my creative skills” is a waste of VERY valuable space.

First Section: Selected Accomplishments


And here’s why…

It is HIGHLY likely this is the ONLY thing the resume reviewer will ever actually read!!!!

So.. this is where the list of all the things you’ve done that you are proud of in your career comes into play. Look at the job you are applying for. Then pick out the top five things from your accomplishment list that would apply to the job you are applying for.
Put those five accomplishments in this section.

If you have trouble figuring out which ones to put there.. think which five things you’d like them to ask you about in the interview…which five things that, if you talked about ’em, would show how qualified you are for the job…. Because it is highly likely they will ask you about them! Think of it as stacking the deck in your favor. You are priming the interviewer with the questions to ask you!


Now comes the work history. This is the second hardest part for most people. KEEP IT SHORT. Frankly.. the potential employer very likely WON”T READ this stuff, other than to get an idea of what companies you’ve worked for and what positions you held.


List the company you worked for and where it was, your position, what dates you worked there (month and year or years only is fine) and then a VERY VERY VERY short description of what you did. (Did I mention keep it very short??) Here’s an example from my resume.

Sony Online Entertainment
Austin, TX
Senior Designer
May 2003 – December 2005

  • Served as Content Lead for Star Wars Galaxies, overseeing team of 7 designers.
  • Served as lead designer on an innovative, original IP MMO. Took design from concept to first four milestones of production

Do not go back more than 10 years… and only that far if it pertains to the industry you are applying for.


Make sure all time is accounted for. If you were unemployed, you can list “self employed” and mention volunteer work you did. Make sure time is covered.


If you are not applying for a game industry job, skip this.
If you are applying for a game industry job, this should just be a list of the titles you have worked on and the platform they were released on.

That’s all.


If you use any specific tools that are normally used/required for your
job, list them here.


If you have any higher education or certifications, they go here. List institution and date and any specific focus. Additionally any awards or recognitions you’ve received go here.


Now… this one is controversial, but I will mention it because it has done me well in interviews. I always list that I show dogs and participate in high performance driving. I can’t tell you how many times that has served as a great ice breaker. “Sheri, you’re the one that shows dogs, aren’t you? What breed?” or ‘Oh yes… Sheri.. you do the high performance driving! What kind of car do you drive?”

So, don’t put this in if you are just going to list “reading science fiction” or something.
The only caveat to this is, I think it’s important to list that you play games, if you are applying for a game job.

Step Three: References

On your resume, you should put a line that says “References Available Upon Request.” Don’t put anyone’s name.. or you risk looking like a name dropper.

However, when you go for an interview, take a sheet that you can hand out that has your references and their contact information on it.

And that’s it.

Now you have a resume that you can quickly and easily customize for each job you are applying for. Good luck in the search!

Published inNetworking 101


  1. I think that all this is great, but I disagree with one part – the last one on references. By now every company expects that you’ll have references available if they request it. I agree that you need to have a doc/sheet ready in advance to give them, but adding the line “References available upon request” takes up valuable space on your resume you could use for something else.

    Just my two cents…

  2. Hrm.. as it is the very last line on the resume, I think it would be fine to leave it off if you were trying to save space… but I still like the formality of it 🙂

    -Sheri G Ray

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