Know your stuff
Do you remember those nifty keywords public, private, protected and/or default that you use to change what methods or classes can access particular methods, functions or variables? They are your core access modifiers, if you don’t remember the specifics of what each of the modifiers mean, spend time and get your head around them. Know what they mean and more specifically what they mean in the language that is required for the job you are applying for. Most of the time they will be fairly similar however some of the modifiers (like protected types) may mean something slightly different depending on the language. Know what these differences are!
Remember terms like static and constant, do you know what they mean when applied to a variable, class or method? Can they be applied to a class or method? How do these modifiers affect how a variable, method or class is treated by the program or treated in memory? If you are unsure of any of these I recommend you look them up, I generally would start with a textbook on the language I was wanting to work with but any language syntax overview should cover these and general access modifiers as well.
Interfaces, abstract classes and polymorphism
Do you know the difference between an interface and an abstract class? Do you understand the place of both these in building polymorphic behaviour? These concepts are particularly important if you are applying for a role dealing with OO (Object Oriented) languages. It is important to know them and know them well. I will also add that a healthy dose of generics can’t go astray either.
Design patterns are one of my favorite rant topics, instead of going into a lot of ranty detail, I will link you through to an article by Super Coders on the topic: Design patterns have (mostly) flopped. The key to take away from this “is that [design patterns] are tried and true solutions to recurring problems in software development.” Different languages have different design patterns that are core to their functionality. For example if you are looking at Java or C# MVC (model, view, controller) and MVVM (model, view, view model) are good places to start. If you’re are looking at Objective-C check out the delegation pattern and the singleton approach. It is important to know what design patterns are key to your chosen field/language, their strengths and their weaknesses. This knowledge will help you understand code written by others, add functionality and code to established structures in a consistent way and help you understand the theory behind various approaches allowing you to adapt them when you find the solution does not quite fit.
Data structures and collection frameworks
I find that far too many programmers get stuck with only ever using prefabricated collection frameworks, while this can speed up development time dramatically, there are times when a supplied data structure won’t cut it. Knowing how the core data structures work, how to traverse them efficiently, add and remove data from them (without losing your head or tail) will allow you to build your own structures, making you an asset rather than a hindrance in a tight spot.
This one is a no brainer if you are going for a job in a particular language know the language. If you are going for a job in C development know how to manage your memory, know how pointers work, understand how to dereference a pointer, know the difference between a pointer and primitive type. If it is C# then know how properties work, what ‘var’ means and some of the core methods and libraries you use. Knowing your language is vital, even if you are going for a job in a different language from your speciality do a quick read up on some of the syntactic differences or quirks of the languages you are interviewing for.
Know the buzz words in your industry
Game design... that’s like multimedia right?
It’s all a numbers game
What does your resume say about you?
Use a clean professional layout
If you are a programmer with no design or artistic skill there are a stack of prefab templates provided in Word, use them. If you are a designer, have a think about what your resume says about you use your hard won design skills to present the right image. No matter what layout you choose make sure you are consistent throughout the whole document, inconsistencies in font size and paragraph styling just looks like you couldn’t be bothered. It is also a good idea to have your name and the page number on each page, e.g. page 2 of 3, just in case a page goes missing.
No matter what role you are applying for it is a good idea to get your resume and cover letter looked over by someone else (if not multiple people), a typo in your cover letter/e-mail could result in the person recruiting for the role disregarding your application straight away, make sure that doesn’t happen.
Put your best stuff up the front
HR people and recruiters see hundreds of resumes a day, their first look will take in the first paragraph and the first couple of things in your resume, if that doesn’t catch their eye then you’ve lost out. Make sure you catch their eye by putting your best stuff upfront. In the end your resume is really a piece of marketing, you need to prove to them that you are worth the time and effort involved in reading your full application and then possibly organising interviews, skill assessments etc.
I hope that these observations or hints have been useful to you, the post-graduation job hunt sucks but it is something that everyone has to do. Good luck with your hunt I hope you find the job you are looking for.