Electronic Arts Recruiter Critiques a Coder’s Resume

RevisedRoberta Fricker, a recent computer science graduate, wants to improve her resume — and who doesn’t. This week, we’ve arranged resume critiques with three people: an IT recruiter, an IT hiring manager and today, Rita Gorden, corporate talent acquisition manager for game giant Electronic Arts.

It’s all part of our ongoing series of Resume Makeovers, where we connect job seekers with hiring managers and recruiters to get their feedback on what’s working, and what could use improvement.

Electronic Arts has an active college graduate recruiting program and has snapped up some folks fresh out of school. That said, the game publisher prefers candidates with at least two to four years of experience, and especially Java or C++ skills.

See our full series on Roberta’s resume critique:

The Big Picture

“A resume should be easy to read and presented in a way that makes me want to know more about Roberta,” says Gordon, who has more than 20 years of experience as a recruiter and joined Electronic Arts last September. However, she found Roberta’s resume layout was too confusing, too wordy and had a number of redundancies.

“She has great skills, but it wasn’t initially evident because of the format,” Gordon noted. “The wordiness made me feel like I didn’t want to dig too deeply into it.”

“I had to review Roberta’s resume five times to figure it out,” Gordon says. “You don’t want to have your resume missed because of the way it’s presented.”

One area Gordon struggled with was Roberta’s listing of independent software development projects in the resume’s Education section. The time period ran from May 2011 to present. It wasn’t initially clear whether the dates referred to a job, a contract assignment or Roberta practicing her craft. It turned out it was when Roberta programmed on her own, after earning a certificate in computer science from Santa Barbara City College.

To address the confusion, Gordon advised Roberta to move the Education section to the resume’s front page from the second, and place it below the summary. “Her goal is to ultimately be a programmer and she’s actively practicing her craft, but lists it under education,” Gordon observed. “If her study is relevant and the most current thing, it shouldn’t be buried.”

Gordon says recent graduates should lead off with their education, then internships. Within each internship, they should note skills they used, projects undertaken and the portion of the project for which they were responsible. They should also note their achievements within the internship projects.

The Deep Dive

Here’s what Gordon had to say about Roberta’s resume:

1: Replace personal Web site link with link to her LinkedIn profile. Include Web site link there.

Gordon recommends having your online profile mirror your resume, and removing the home address if your resume is on the Internet. She noted listing a zip code, or city and state, should suffice.

2: Change “Junior-Level Programmer” to “Summary.”

The summary should say “junior-level programmer seeking (fill-in-the-blank) job,” and list hard and soft skills, or Core Competencies, and background. “All you need to do with a summary is grab people,” Gordon says.

3: Place Education ection after Summary.

When evaluating a new graduate, recruiters will look for skills first, followed by education, and then do a deeper dive into their experience.

4: Remove the Key Qualifications section.

Instead map those skills to the relevant jobs under Professional Experience or Education. These skills can be listed as bullet points.

5: List only the technical skills you are proficient in, and keep it to two lines.

Electronic Arts will challenge applicants on the technical skills they list and give them white board tests to gauge the depth of their knowledge.

6: Computer Science major goes Education, not Professional Experience.

7:  Titles and companies are important to list, but not necessarily the department.

8: Put parenthesis around the word “contract” and move dates to the far right of the page.

9: Scope of Work is confusing and needs to be reworded.

10: Remove “Key Accomplishments” wording, because the bullets achieve the same purpose.

11: Need to qualify how you achieved key accomplishments.

12: Keep format consistent — dates to the far right and use titles.

Use “Student” title, rather than “In School half-time.” This also goes in the Education section.

13: Consolidate these three sentences into one.

Add relevant bullet points, such as “Special Projects Completed.”

14: Remove “Benefits,” “Quality Assurance,” and “Finance” from subject categories.

Resume scanning software will detect these words and think you’re seeking a quality assurance or finance position.

15: Use bullet point information that highlights your relevant skills that are specific to the position for which you are applying.

16, 17 & 18: Remove the phrases: Key Accomplishments, Benefits, Quality Assurance and Financial Recovery.

19: Highlight and move Core Competencies into the Summary.

20: Move Education to the first page and place it under the Summary.

21: Independent Software Development Projects title is confusing. Need to clarify.

Roberta’s Major Takeaways

Roberta’s three critiques have yielded several common threads.

  • The largest task is a major restructuring of her resume, which includes changing the first paragraph to “Summary” and fine tuning its content to include both hard and soft skills.
  • She needs to articulate in both the resume and job interviews her love of learning and her desire to continue coding in her free time.
  • Her Education section should be moved up toward the top of the resume, and fold in some of the information now listed under Professional Experience.

Roberta’s plans is to create three versions of the resume, each based on comments made by the respective recruiters and hiring manager. She then plans to use one version to apply for three positions, the second for the next three, and the third another three. Hopefully, a job will come her way before her experiment is over.

8 Responses to “Electronic Arts Recruiter Critiques a Coder’s Resume”

      • RE: EA and BLUE2’s comments. Could you sustantiate you comments with some facts and examples of what you’re talking about. I’m not heavily involved in the “developer community” and I’m unaware of what you’re talking about but I’d be interested to hear your reasons for such negative comments.

    • Hello Developer,

      This is Roberta Fricker, and thank you for the recognition! You see me clearly and that’s important.
      We’re all part of the tech community and giving each other the props we merit is essential.
      It takes a long time to become a quality coder, so all of us who have top-downed, debugged, compiled run, and tested, over and over again are serious candidates for employers.

      I just posted some feedback for the other two critiques that I have and you might be interested:

      I wanted to thank everyone for weighing in and giving this pilot project attention and feedback. I also give Dawn Kawamoto, Dice Editor, the recognition she deserves for managing all of it.
      In a week or two I want to provide a snapshot of the tools and strategies I have used, before and after this project. I want to share anything that can help all of us get to where we’re targeting ourselves.
      I can say with confidence that I have tried a wide variety of techniques on all topics from the resume tweaks, job fairs-virtual and live, networking, tech recruiters, user groups, job clubs, job placement techie schools like Set Focus, linkedin inmails, cold calling, database research for employer demographics, and a few other unique approaches like this project.
      Ultimately, all of us want to know, how to get the J-O-B. My word is good, I’m happy to share, and I’m confident that everyone will benefit in some way. So, keep an eye out, it’s coming soon.
      One of the main reasons I am on the Programmer trail? Because I want the end user to have an easier and more efficient experience. That includes the end users on this site.
      C U soon, Code Chick

  1. Show this to a 100 recruiters and they would have 100 different critiques, some direct opposites! Article overlooks that nearly all professional jobs today will require a web-based application, so the layout of her resume will not likely be of value unless and until Ms. Fricker survives the early filtering phases. Phase one, the HR website programmers conveniently include a salary question(s) which cannot be disregarded, a tactic which shortcuts any reasonable, mutual evaluation of what each side has to offer and lets the HR team simply bargain shop when filtering for next phase.

    • Probably, but at my suggestion the resumes are handed to a manageable few in hopes of receiving similar/same feedback from each. Obviously there will be differences, hopefully nothing too significant.

  2. Maybe I should point out I’ve been doing mainly contract programming since 1989. I’ve worked many places so I have a lot of experience to convey and have been building my sites for a long time now. That said I go for the over kill approach. My main resume page http://www.dea42.com/jsp/r1.jsp has links to canned resumes, a resume generator that lets you plug in the skills to are looking for to get a version of my resume filtered to just the job I used the skills you are interested in in diff layout and file formats. Plus links to a skills matrix(in tree structure that lets you drill down to time used at each company), sample code, availability calendar, brain bench scores, LinkedIn profile and even tips for recruiters (see below). There are also several personal projects on this site accessible from the menu at the top of the page.

    I also have a current profile on Dice and LinkedIn plus out dated profiles on Career Builder and Monster. The outdated ones because I only update there when I’m out of work due to the flood of spam and scams I get every time I update those.

    With all that I get tons of calls (record is 14 in an hour) and emails everyday. About 90% of which want me to move even though it says all over the place I can not move or travel. Most of the rest want me to call them so they can ask me over the phone how long I did each of the skills on their list and / or try and talk me into a job paying well below the going rate even though they know I’m currently working. Kind of makes you wonder if anything more than a few key words in some profiles is a waste of time.

    I should mention here before posting set up a separate email account and get a Google Voice number so once the flood starts rolling in you can put some filters in place to stem the tide.