Unless you are a famous and a successful product manager, landing a product management spot in a company is an extremely difficult task.
You have to stand out from the first second you apply to the position, with a perfect resume ready.
That said, what follows are 5 straightforward tips we cobbled together on creating professional product manager resumes. We hope you enjoy it!
You can always reach me out on LinkedIn if you have something to add.
Make sure you learn the possible career path of a product manager before you go any further!
Let’s dig right into our first and arguably most critical tip.
Tip #1: Practice! Be You. Be Patient.
Always remember, you aren’t dealing with machines (well, not completely, not yet anyway).
And here’s the thing, we humans are an extremely odd-yet-beautiful bunch. Of course there are certain rules like grammar and proper formatting, but NEVER underestimate the power of colorful individuality inside those simple bounds.
Thing is, it’s really tough to get creative in a medium you’ve barely worked with – like resumes. Did you know there are ‘Professional Resume Writers’ out there that get paid big decent money for this stuff?
It is true! According to Glassdoor, the average base pay can be as high as $50-$60,000 a year.
Imagine all the little optimization tricks, quirks, and details you’d pick up after curating say, hundreds of Product Manager Resumes. Imagine thousands…
The good news is, for the most part, you’ve only got ONE to focus on.
Don’t expect to be a masterful wizard at injecting yourself into your resume right off the bat, or just because you can search around online, following general cookie-cutter guides and examples.
Consider your resume to be a living, evolving, representation of who you are both as a person and a human being. It’s always a work in progress. Couple things to remember about Product Manager Resumes in general though:
- In reality, most people are playing it safe. They aren’t trying to stand out.
- In reality, most people are conservative. They aren’t trying to dominate their niche.
- In reality, most people tone themselves down. They aren’t boldly seizing the day.
So, really, this first tip could also be – take your resume seriously! Like a car you’re building and cherrying out over time, or, a home you’re fixing up.
Your resume won’t end if you get that next job.
Even if you work for that company for the next 25 years, your resume will still be an important part of your professional life.
Tip #2: Self-Evaluation | Choose Summary or Vision Objective
An incredible resource out there to assist you in your resume practice is Tom Gerencer’s hefty-value article for Zety.com entitled – ‘Product Manager Resume: Examples (Guide & Template)’
It’s not cheesy clickbait by any stretch of the imagination, but highly-defined, stuffed to the gills with great pointers and we think you’ll dig it. One of the first sections deals with your resume’s introduction.
Two ways to approach it are the a) Summary, or b) a vision-based statement or Objective.
- Resume Summary: This is the ideal way to go when you’ve got more experience to show and so many projects there’s not enough room to fit them all on the page. Consider it a pleasant catalog of ‘What I’ve been up to so far in my career.’
- Objective Summary: This, on the other hand, is better suited for when you’re light on experience but heavy on education, drive, passion and ambition.
Both should be layered with every achievement that’s directly, and if you’re creative, indirectly tied to your chosen path. Here’s where some of the word-magic comes in handy in terms of showcasing hard and soft skills.
Let’s look at the example added for the Resume Summary and entry-level Project Managers from Tom’s Zety article.
“Energetic product manager seeking to increase revenue at <Target Company>. Have created 3 mobile apps with a total of 75,000 downloads. Developed 15 wireframes for small businesses and took 3rd place in a <Relevant Industry Competition>.”
What do you think? Or course available space is always an issue, but can you see any ways you could give that nice & tidy paragraph extra texture (see Tip #1 again)?
Voicing. Power Words. Action Verbs. Practice, practice, practice!
Tip #3: Research & Target vs. The Shotgun Approach
Have you ever found any juicy answers to great industry questions on the website Askamanager.org?
It’s run by Alison Green. A TON of topics are covered. It’s a Q & A-style blog where comment-conversations can go on, and on, and on regarding ‘how managers and interviewers think.’
Back in late 2016, the topic of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) was brought up, which tied to the concept of keywords in Product Manager Resumes.
For example, the person asking this particular question was wondering about how to effectively keyword their resume for ‘hardworking’.
Do you try to keyword your resume like this? If so, just stop it!
Why? Because first of all, as Alison points out, “Keywords are more about hard skills — particular software programs, experience doing X or Y. They’re not going to be about soft skills.”
Secondly, you should be researching the companies you want to work for and sending out fewer, high-quality, hyper-focused resumes. Keywords in these resumes should come naturally, organically as you write about yourself, the company, and the position.
And, you won’t be submitting these kinds of resumes to companies through ATS systems.
Or, at least you shouldn’t be…
To put it more bluntly, one of the close to 70 commenters under the article (as of when what you’re reading was put together) had this to say.
“The best way to get a job is by networking and getting connected to the hiring manager or through a referral. The next best way is using a recruiter. Then only submitting your resume to an ATS as a formality. I have never submitted a resume to a company blindly in 20 years.”
Tip #4: Be As Contextual as Possible
Challenging Fact – less than half of the recruiters who lay their eyes on your resume will spend more than 30-40 seconds on it…well, unless you live in a one-horse town or something.
You get the point.
You understand that depending on certain circumstances, it might be less…
Along with tailoring your resume for specific companies, and submitting through someone rather than some ATS, be contextual!
- Who exactly is the person that you’re submitting your resume to?
- How many resumes are they thumbing through right now?
- Any possible way to get pointers directly from this person?
- Be SURE you’re putting paramount value right in their face in the first few seconds.
One of the most potent points about this subject really, well, in our opinion, was made by Clement Kao in their well-written Medium article, “The Ultimate Product Manager Resume Guide”.
“Too often, when I speak with candidates, I hear them rattle off a list of skills and experiences. That’s not particularly interesting to a hiring manager, because that doesn’t actually show your particular niche, perspective, or strength. In other words, skills and experiences are not value propositions on their own. You are not a commodity...Each product manager is expected to have their own perspective on the world, and are hired for that particular perspective.”
This is a great way to think about the psychology of the person you’re depending on for the thumbs up; the hire. You’re not a commodity, or at least, you sure don’t want them thinking of you as one.
If you know exactly who the hiring manager is, and you can get to know them better or converse with them in a professional and mature way throughout the interviewing process your resume won’t be the ‘make it or break it’ piece of the overall puzzle.
Be contextual. Know who you’re talking to. Focus your resume. Customize it around these PEOPLE because they aren’t commodities either. Be mindful of that fact.
You can also try learning what skills are required of a product manager in a company to maximize your chances.
Tip #5: Avoid Common Product Manager Resume Fails
Let’s switch gears and cap this off with a light list of seven fails you’re likely to see on average Product Manager Resumes.
Because again, frankly speaking, curating an impactful and effective resume is no simple task (consider the parallel with LinkedIn-style digital resumes). Anyone who tries to argue it’s as hard as enjoying a slice of apple pie is 110% LYING to you.
Or, they just haven’t the slightest clue what they’re talking about. It’s tough! The process takes time and practice. The good news is, all the most common failures are easy to avoid.
- Writing Your Memoir: Yes, by all means, tell them how you made/make a difference and what you’re proud of, but don’t forget your resume should also be about THEM.
- Missing Out On Tact: Another mega-secret to effective Product Manager Resumes is knowing what to NOT say; what to leave out. Through research, you should know where to make an entrance and where to tread softly.
- Being Too Informal: Here again, your focus on the companies you’re applying to will ensure you know a little bit about their culture. You should know, roughly, where the line is.
- Being Too Vague: Like many, a recruiter or seasoned manager will tell you, ‘To triumph, specify!’
- Boasting Without Class: Absolutely, yes, boast and toot your own horn, but not TOO loudly. Have some class.
- Being A Master of None: What are your primary skills? What are you best at? You’re not aiming to be mediocre at a bunch of things, but a master of nothing are you?
- Horrifying Lack of Context: This point cannot be harped on enough – context is over 80% of the pie when you’re dealing with living breathing human beings.
Frequently Asked Questions
😎 Who is a Product Manager?
A Product Manager is someone who is job is to manage every aspect of the product from development to customer service, ensuring the product’s success.
❓How can I get hired as a Product Manager?
In order to land a product management position in a decent company, you have to be an outstanding candidate, starting with a great resume.
📝 Why should I create a good resume as a Product Manager?
In order to impress the employers and stand out in the crowd, you should have the best resume possible.