I took one of my old resumes and cover letters and commented them up with why I wrote and structured them the way I did, called out a few things I wish I'd done differently, and noted a bunch of more general things.
I think the easiest way to view them is in Google Docs, but there are commented PDFs you can download too.
view resume with comments in Google Docs (download PDF)
view cover letter with comments (download PDF)
I also dug up a bunch of sets of resumes and cover letters from old job applications (generally ones that led to at least an interview). Hopefully these are useful to see side-by-side.:)
view resume/cover letter sets from my old job applications (download PDF)
There's more general information below, along with some context for how I and other people I've worked with when hiring (both managers and teammates of a prospective hire) tend to interact with resumes. I hope it's helpful!

So here's the lousy part - for pretty much any art or design opening, especially at a popular studio, recruiting is reviewing hundreds, often thousands, of applications. For pretty much any role (not just art or design), dozens or hundreds of those will go to the hiring managers, who need to fit reviewing them in alongside all the things that easily fill a full-time job. If a studio is making an effort to respond to people quickly, like Moonshot does, we may be reviewing dozens or hundreds of applications - resume, cover letter, and portfolio - a day, often in addition to our day-to-day tasks.

So the easier your resume and cover letter are to read, and the faster they make it absolutely clear that you possess the skills required for this job, the more everyone will like you and the happier everyone (including you:P) will be. If your resume isn't particularly clear or focused, it might even make it hard to tell whether you are in fact among the best-qualified for the job, and when people have limited bandwidth or tons of applicants to narrow down, that can be really bad for you.

To be clear, in reviewing hundreds of applications, across multiple roles, I don't think I've ever had resume formatting make or break an application or my opinion of any applicant. But I've definitely appreciated particularly clean and well-written resumes, and bemoaned a shockingly high number of resumes that were a pain to parse.

Overall Goals of the Resume:

  • Concise and Easy to Read
    • Basic info: who you are, what you do, how to contact you​
    • Your most relevant skills to the job you're applying for, along with applicable software
    • Your most relevant experience, which should back up and expand upon those skills
    • Organize everything based on how relevant it is to the specific job you're applying to: for instance, I've had multiple jobs where I did both modeling and VFX, and I would swap, add, or remove those bullet points and the details of those bullet points around depending on the type of job I was applying to
  • 1 page maximum (usually). Again, this goes back to being able to prune things down to the most relevant . I've reviewed plenty of multi-page resumes that absolutely didn't need to be, and in a sea of dozens or hundreds of applications, it may mean the most important details get glossed over or missed altogether. (I will say the exception here is roles that don't rely less on a traditional portfolio, such as engineers, designers, and production.)
  • Simple is good. Yes, that means clear and concise, but it also just means you don't need to wild out on a fancy design or fonts or graphic designs for your resume (unless you're in UI or graphic design, then a resume is a fantastic place to flex). It doesn't need to be lovely, just easy to read - and ideally have a light background, because we're going to print it out to take notes on during your interview.
  • In my experience, everyone who interviews you will read the resume, but it's maybe a coin flip whether or not people will read your cover letter. So while cover letters can still be a very valuable tool, especially with recruiters who will be the first to review your application but rarely have domain expertise in your role, try to get all the essentials in your resume.

As far as cover letters... I'm really bad at cover letters, I'm sorry. I'm sure there's lots of good advice out there - all I can really confidently say is to be nice, be sincerely excited, and use it to expand upon and support your resume (and vice versa). Cover letters are where I tend to do the most tailoring to the specific job, since the goal of a resume is to be concise and extremely readable, and customizing a portfolio takes a ton of time. So this is where I'll cite my appreciation for the game and/or studio, indicate any research/experience I've done into them specifically, and stitch together all those bullet points from my resume into a more a cohesive story of why I'm well-suited to their job in particular.

Also, these don't have to be long. Common industry advice is typically 2-3 paragraphs - the example on this page is the longest cover letter I've ever written, largely because I was a) jumping career tracks (from ) and b) it wasn't an art creation role, so I couldn't lean as much on my portfolio to do the talking for me. If you look at my other cover letters in the downloads above you'll see they're a fair bit shorter. (Similar to resumes, these will likely be longer for things like design, engineering, and production where you probably have less of a traditional portfolio to lean on.)

Overall Goals of the Cover Letter:
  • Get to the main reasons you're well-suited to the role asap (not that different from a resume haha). For a longer cover letter (i.e. design, engineering, production, if you don't have a ton of experience in the role you're applying to), stitch the details of your work/resume into a short, readable story of why you're a good fit for the position.
  • Communicate anything you can't easily do in the resume - for instance explicitly stating why you like the game, team, or studio and showing that you've done your research (where possible), or aforementioned more personal stories (I say stories relative to a resume - so normally like, a few complete sentences).
  • Customize it to the job!! No matter how much you've customized your resume to a role, it's very hard to make them feel genuinely tailor-made to a single application - the format just doesn't really support it. Use the cover letter to balance that out. Doesn't mean you have to write it from scratch each time, by a long shot, but a form cover letter is even more obvious than a form resume so make sure you're doing what you can.
  • Your resume and cover letter should support each other. Use them both to emphasize your most important qualifications repeatedly and from different angles, and to cover the things that the other can't (i.e. cover letter is good for introducing more human personality and story, resume is good for communicating facts quickly).
  • Again, it really doesn't have to be long. The people reviewing it are still super busy and 2-3 paragraphs is usually plenty, especially for artists.
  • Your full name
  • Your title/role
    • This may be your current one or it may be what you're applying to - for instance here, I'd never held a job titled "game artist" but wanted to emphasize my broad range of experiences and skills
  • Your portfolio / website / reel
  • Your contact information
  • Your location
    • This is just useful to get out of the way. If you're local, that can sometimes be an advantage; if you'll need to relocate, now they know.
Skills / Software
​These are the high-level things that you'll be supporting in your work experience. Use this to highlight your best aspects most applicable to the job - because I tend to focus on my versatility and that also plays really well into any VFX role, I go pretty broad with equal parts VFX, soft skills, and technical/supporting skills, but you can absolutely go narrower or more specific, especially if you're newer and don't have as much to draw on.
Also: SOFT SKILLS ARE SO IMPORTANT. Any ways that you can highlight your ability to collaborate, to uplift the team - it's so much harder to teach than timing or optimization. For every dev that I will aggressively vouch for, it's because they're amazing to work with, which is as much soft skills as their abilities as a designer or whatever.
You do not have to kitchen sink this. It's not the end of the world if you do, but like, we're gonna trust that you know or can learn Outlook and Microsoft Word, you don't need to list them. Listing lots of irrelevant skills/software here can make it seem like you don't actually understand the needs of the position you're applying for, which will never be a deal breaker but will mean the rest of your application has to work harder to prove you do know what you're doing.
Related Experience
​This is just anything that doesn't fit in the other sections but you feel is relevant to the job/studio your applying to. School often goes here, speaking opportunities, volunteer work, side projects, anything like that (for example, I volunteered at GDC as a Conference Associate for years and would list that here since it wasn't development work).
Work History
This is the only part of your resume that I would expect to be chronological. And that only applies to when you held the job - you absolutely can and should organize the details of your work to put the aspects most relevant to your application first.
These are the details I expect to see at minimum:
  • Job title
  • Dates of employment
  • Studio and location
  • Project(s) with platforms
  • Details of your basic tasks there
    • Hopefully these at least support the title that you had - for instance, when I held a ​combination VFX/Environment Artist role, I would still speak to the environment half in a VFX application. I just also used it to support my skills in stylized and tech-conscious art, which is relevant to the VFX part again.
That's the bare minimum though - you really shouldn't stop there, but I tend to see a lot of juniors in particular do so. These are the main things I see newbies especially struggle with, so:
  • BRAG!! Be proud of the work you've done!
  • Elaborate! Expand beyond the obvious facts of what you did For instance, instead of just saying I sculpted, modeled, and textured environment assets, I elaborate on the fact that I was meeting a specific, stylized art direction as well as weird technical constraints. I could just say I did vfx and environment art, but I also talk about the work I did researching our asset pipeline and working with a strike team, both of which were very valuable.
  • Talk about your soft skills too!! Seriously, again, these are so valuable. And just like anything else in your resume, if you state it upfront, your work history is the place to prove that record. I've got small nods to the fact that I can play nicely with others, support and better the team, and 
  • Use an active voice. You did that stuff, write about it like you did!​​
​I'm so bad at these, I'm sorry. They're like one-sentence cover letters and I hate them. In general, I try to use them to explicitly name the game/team/studio I'm applying to so the resume is obviously not a form resume, and if appropriate I try to get a little bit of the game's style/humor in there.
cover letter
I've changed this greeting to something unique to the game studio whenever possible - pulling from the game title, in-game greetings, whatever. Is it cringey? Yes. Did it make a difference? Who knows. But it was a small way to be light-hearted and tailored to them from the start.

The tl;dr here is: take the bullet points in your resume and stitch them into the story of why you're such a good fit for this role, as quickly as possible. Use it as an opportunity to elaborate and highlight what makes you unique.


For this letter specifically: almost none of these things are things that would naturally spring to mind based on my past jobs, which could easily (and reasonably) be assumed to be entirely focused on asset creation. However, here I was applying to a job I hadn't previously held, so emphasizing the additional roles I took on as someone who worked with external artists, helped document and teach art styles and pipelines, as well as being a point of contact for others, was important to not just coming off as someone applying to this as a potshot.

I also talk very little about the asset creation, even though it was how I spent most of my time, because, well, that didn't matter much for this job, and could be supported by my portfolio. I kept my letter relatively brief and focused on the parts of my career that proved I could do this job too.

Demonstrating that you are invested in the game/team is one of the single things that covers letters can decisively do that's very difficult to do in resumes. This can be  tough on unannounced or unreleased games, of course, but especially with so many live games nowadays, anything you can do to show that you've taken the time to check out the game and appreciate what they're doing is good. I also talk about the things I like about the studio - in addition to just rounding out the letter a little, the studio/team, past games, etc. are your go-to when applying to an unannounced game you can't be excited about in any specific way.

This is the world's most boring outro, I'm sure there are 2000 ways to do it better. Per this bare minimum: thank them for their time, and make yourself available. If there are any caveats to when or how you can be reached, or anything like that, this is a good place to mention them too.