8 Bits of Advice for your Programmer Portfolio
A programmer portfolio is an excellent way to show a potential employer what you are capable of; it can make the difference in securing an interview. It doesn’t need to be big, or even a game, as long as it highlights your skill set and passion for coding.
Get video clips and images of your work online
Whether it be on a personal website (Weebly, Wix), YouTube, or a simple image uploading site, such as Imgur, your portfolio needs to be online for people to find it. To impress a hiring manager, you should keep your portfolio up to date and chart your progress on the projects you are working on.
A playable game demo stands out alongside your programmer portfolio
We don’t see this too often, however a decent and clean playable 3D demo will impress. If you have a demo you can send remember to include instructions to play the game. Long gone are the days where you’d send an .exe file to a hiring manager, we recommend sending a link where they can download the game.
A well thought out, populated GitHub is very well received
Make sure it’s up to date and shows a variety of languages and skills where possible. We recommend concentrating on your best two or three languages, especially C++ or C#. If you’d like to show your knowledge of more languages, you can include a few mini samples of this. Remember that your GitHub will be being assessed; a ton of unfinished / unrefined samples using different languages shows lack of discipline and focus when it comes to processes – which are essential for working in a studio.
Don’t just send your University stuff
Personal projects come across well and show passion for what you do professionally. Just sending your old work makes you look like you haven’t done any personal projects since you left Uni. You could end up missing an opportunity because someone else came across as a more passionate hobbyist.
Fancy gameplay is great – source code is just as important (if not more)
The end-product show in your programmer portfolio doesn’t necessarily show how you got there, and this is what a hiring manager will be looking for in your work. Toy with things, experiment and describe what it was that you were looking to achieve, even if it didn’t turn out that way, explain what you learnt from it!
Some work doesn’t have to be relevant to the company’s projects, or even games at all
We recommend adding everything to your portfolio, even if it is completely unrelated to the type of jobs you’re applying for. If you’ve experimented with a piece of code for a project to see if you could make it work, games related or not, it shows an R&D aspect and an ambition to find answers.
Remember, hiring managers look through a lot of portfolios
Try to keep everything in one or two places so that the hiring manager can easily find everything they want to see. Keep the layout simple, easy to navigate, and don’t create barriers to your work – extra downloads, password protections, massive file sizes, etc.
Make sure your programmer portfolio works
Having done everything above you need to make sure your programmer portfolio actually works! If a recruiter at a company clicks on a link and it doesn’t work, they will move on (you’d be surprised how many times this happens). Test your demo and portfolio links on different devices and browsers to minimise the risk of this happening.