The one thing everybody hates about job hunting is writing and revamping their resume. If you had a chance, you know that you can do the job, so why spend so much time on your resume? The truth is, your resume is the only thing that recruiters and hiring managers can use to evaluate your professional background. Therefore, your resume needs to communicate how your background is a great fit for the product manager roles you want.
A good product manager resume will not only land the job, but it will also grab the attention of resume readers. Think of your resume as a product, and the recruiter as your end-user. Your resume should deliver the best end-user experience among competing products (aka other people’s resumes) by clearly showing how your professional experience has prepared you for the role.
Resume Format and Layout
First thing’s first, you should add some life to your resume. While the content is the essential deliverable here, there is no reason why it shouldn’t immediately grab the hiring manager’s attention. Nowadays, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and any word processing resource provide more than enough options for professional, yet original looking resume templates. Do some research and see what’s out there.
While the options are nearly endless, we recommend starting simple: Google “product manager resume” and take a look at some of the templates that pop up Career development sites such as Zety. They have great examples of resume templates tailored explicitly for product managers. Looking at these will not only give you a good idea of what a typical product manager resume looks like, but also provide a few real product manager resume examples to get you started.
From experience, I can confidently give you the following quick tip so you don’t end up making a wrong impression with an overly decorated resume. PLEASE REFRAIN FROM CHOOSING RESUME TEMPLATES WITH FRAMES ON THEM. Those are the worst. Let’s not torture the person that has to read this, okay?
After doing your research, narrow down your options to 5 to 10 resume templates. Many template sites on Google give you the option of downloading the template you chose. Some even have real examples of resumes that make use of the template, which is even better when you start editing the content!
If you’re still struggling to find the right template, try experimenting with different fonts. Font testing can be a real game-changer if appropriately used. Comfortaa is a clean and simple font that is perfect for product manager resumes. Remember: Stay away from Times New Roman. It is 2020, and you are not Peter Parker responding to a position from the classifieds section of the New York Times. Calibri is nice, but it’s been widely overused. Be unique and think of your brand. Something minor like changing your font can add some color for the person that’s sorting and sifting through hundreds of resumes. With the right font choice, you can make a positive impression on the recruiter right from the start!
When it comes to the ideal product manager resume, do yourself a favor and REMOVE your biography and summary from the top. No one will read it. Hiring Managers are interested in getting to the heart of the information FAST.
Good Resume Example:
Yes, it looks a little dull; but there are tons we can do to spice this up. Right below your email, you should place your Linkedin profile URL. If a recruiter likes your resume, they will look you up on LinkedIn to learn more. Make it easy for them to find you, and they will spend more time learning about you instead of trying to discover your LinkedIn profile.
Bad Resume Examples:
The following list of bad resumes represents the best way for your resume to get tossed in the shredder. But why? They look pretty good? Am I not supposed to differentiate myself from the competition? Of course! But let’s go back to user experience. The person reading your resume is sorting through 500 resumes a day. That’s no joke! Don’t believe us? Let’s have a little experiment.
Post your Product Manager job on Indeed and LinkedIn and wait for your phone to light up like a Christmas Tree. Hundreds of resumes will flow into your inbox in the first couple of days. Now try reading all of them, one by one, line by line. How long can you keep yourself focussed? Not long, right? Recruiters do this daily, and therefore their reading – or more like skimming – speed is in the order of magnitude of SECONDS (not even minutes!). After speaking to more than 500 internal and external technical recruiters that conduct hiring for the leading technology companies across both coasts, I know for a fact that their eyes only roll one way: it starts on top and center, then they scroll to the left and work down. As you skim through resumes, notice the first thing you read to determine how well the candidate fits for the position. Now that you know how your resume gets treated and how much competition it faces, it’s time for you to optimize the content and play the numbers game. As we will continue our discussion in the next section, there is no point in polishing your resume for a single position. Know that you could be using that time to have a solid resume in hand and apply to multiple jobs, which would drastically raise your likelihood of getting an interview.
Content and Optimization
Content is the bullet points you have in your product manager resume, and you must optimize them to POP. There should never be more than 5 to 6 bullets per position, and they should contain very broad wording. You want to sell your product management expertise, either with hard skills or soft. For those of you reading this from a non-technical background, DO NOT FEEL DISCOURAGED. There are plenty of Product Managers out there that do not code, and they are killing it on the job. Think about optimizing a website; your resume is no different.
Hard Skills Bullet Examples
When it comes to hard skills, think things you do with your hands or items, you physically go out and hustle to GET DONE. Here are some excellent examples to get you started:
- Managed mobile product development in a fast-paced, Agile environment, working closely with developers and stakeholders to ensure successful product and feature launches
- Prioritized backlog with ready-to-go feature requirements so that developers are never blocked
- Guided product priorities, product plans, and overall product strategy
- Worked with sales and marketing to understand the market potential and competitive landscape
- Captured customer needs, product scenarios, user stories, and stakeholder feedback to create new and improve existing products
- Created and worked with design resources to develop wireframes and design comps to guide engineering efforts
Hard Skill Bullets are easily quantifiable.
Soft Skill Bullet Examples
Soft skills are the bullet points that exemplify your skills as a leader and communicator, such as your ability to collaborate. Collaboration is used a lot in these bullet points! Here’s a substantial list of examples for soft skills:
- Identify operational and support requirements and facilitate their implementation
- Communicate with other cross-functional areas, sharing product plans, identifying possible issues and concerns, and collaborating to address them
- Facilitate and support product training and launches
- Contribute to broader technology strategy; give feedback to technical teams building products on top of the infrastructure
- Discussed the architecture/technical decisions made in the squad
- Interface with the rest of the technology organization to understand opportunities, requirements, and priorities to ensure the right focus of the team
Soft skill bullets are not easily quantifiable; hence verbs, like, identified, communicated, facilitated, contributed, and discussed, are often used.
The art here is how you present this information. There should never be more than 4 to 5 bullets per position. If you got promoted to another position (i.e., Product Manager to Senior Product), add that as a separate position. Even if you were doing the exact responsibilities, chances are there are more than ten bullets you can use to define your scope of work. Give each position a good ratio of 2:1 or 3:1, i.e., there should be at least 2 to 3 hard bullet points for every soft bullet point you list. If you are coming from a non-technical background (i.e., finance, management consulting, or sales and etc…), soft skills are THE MVP for you. That’s the only space you can dominate because stakeholder management is probably something you do very well at this point.
Anybody that says you need to customize your product manager resume for every position you apply to DOES NOT KNOW ANYTHING about making a transition. And clearly, they did not or will never face the challenges you do in making the transition into product (or any career path honestly). If you can’t achieve scale with your resume, you are in deep trouble. Why? No matter how much you love that company, how much you think you are perfect for the role, and believe you will have a shot simply just knowing somebody that works there, you are NOT the only one applying. You DO NOT know if they are reading your resume. You have no clue how urgently the position has to be filled or if they even have the intention to fill the vacancy (there are quite a few cases where the company posts a job but doesn’t even bother to interview). They do not owe you a response. They may never read your resume.
One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is cherry-picking. Let’s face it; what has cherry-picking companies led you to? How many times have you interviewed last month during your eternal wait for that email from Spotify recruiting? Be honest with yourself. On top of this, we genuinely hope that you know for a fact that you ARE NOT the only one who wants to have that Product Manager position at Instagram. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Harvard (not even counting the other colleges) graduates or Goldman associates who would KILL (hopefully not literally) for that job. It’s wild out there, and there is at least one thing every person can offer. You are not the only perfect fit. So stop dreaming and get your resume out to as many places as possible. Just because you won’t land a job at Instagram doesn’t mean that you should abandon your dream of becoming a Product Manager.
Backstory (Your Narrative or Origin Story)
What is your origin story? Every great empire in the world has some sort of origin story, which helped legitimize their rule over the common folk. What is yours? There are no Product Management Bachelor Degrees out there. It is highly unlikely somebody started doing Product Management right out of school. So, how the hell did you come to be? This is just as important if you are already a Product Manager or an aspiring one. Whether you are selling the truth or otherwise, this is where the fluff is encouraged. Why? Because your reader sorts over 500 resumes a day. Did you take a rough headcount the last time you visited a PM meetup? That’s right! You are not the only person trying to make this transition, so spice things up! New York is one of those cities where people stay after they graduate.
On top of that, if you haven’t realized that the cream of the crop and the best of the best this country, better yet this world has to offer competes here, then you might have more significant problems than trying to make this transition. If you graduated from NYU or Columbia, expect to compete with these boys and girls. If you are coming out of Finance or Banking, KNOW you are competing against many of your colleagues for this very coveted role. There’s no hiding from that fact.
You have to do this. This is your brand right here. This is what makes you more awesome, unique, or different from all the other people that are literally gunning for the same job you want so dearly.
Unfortunately, it’s also the part you need specialized training to do. Come schedule a call to get a second opinion on improving your narrative, and how we can teach you to outmaneuver your competition.