Learn what companies like Google, Facebook, and Uber look for in a resume and get through to the phone screen.
Resumes are the first (and often last) chance you have to make an impression. Recruiters and hiring managers spend an average of 6 seconds on each resume they view, so you better make it count.
To stand out to employers, you need to understand what work experience is relevant, and what recruiters are really looking for-- beyond what's highlighted in the job description.
At Candor, we’ve helped over 400 PMs create and polish their resumes. There are some tips every PM should know, from how to properly talk about metrics to which keywords actually make a difference. But above all else, a product management resume needs to highlight these three abilities:
Your resume should be focused on selling your ability to deliver flawlessly on these objectives. To convey this in the best way, you should focus on clarity, brevity, context and layout. Here's how to do it.
Think elevator pitch, not life history. Your resume, from your header to your experience section, should clearly address the question: “why are you the right fit?”
Many job seekers struggle to strike the balance between clarity and expressing their qualifications. However, if your job search includes top companies, you need to strike this balance VERY well-- communication skills are a top priority.
So how do you do it?
Before you even write your resume, do this. Write a one sentence no-thrills description of what you did at your last three jobs. You need to have a clear, impressive way to talk about your work experience. We have examples of how successful product managers do that in our course.
Draft your bullet points. Think of three to five examples in each past job that prove you were exceptional at identifying a win, rallying the team, or iterating/optimizing to get the product right.
Examples that don’t fall into our key areas should not make it into the resume at all. Resume writing is all about prioritizing which part of your professional experience will stand out to prospective employers. Don't be tempted to be exhaustive. While you might want to mention skills like "defining a product roadmap" or "market research," these are core expectations of every PM and not resume builder material
Always sanity check. Have a friend or colleague read what you have so far, before it becomes your official resume. Ask them to answer these two questions:
If the answer is no (and remember, long pauses and an awkward face count as “no”), go back and rewrite it. If someone who knows you is not convinced, forget ever getting through to a recruiter or hiring manager.
In a desire to be understood, PM candidates often want to communicate contextual details. What started as a quick description of past experience turns to a sea of bullet points, each a paragraph long. What is worse, adjectives start creeping in and before you know it, your resume is a hybrid between a CV and a cover letter.
If you want a top product manager job, this isn't going to fly. You need to cut down your resume by highlighting the right skills and eliminating unnecessary fluff. Here's how to do it.
If you want to get a human to read your resume, be clever with your formatting and keep it to one page (you’ve got one page, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted…)
Multi-page resumes are a no-go. Yes, even if you’re the most accomplished PM ever. Yes, even if your friend told you she applied with a 2 page resume and it was fine. DO NOT DO IT. This is not cover letter. Hiring managers and recruiters want brevity.
It is generally a (very) bad idea to include a “professional summary” or “objectives” section at the top of your resume.
There is one exception: folks with nontraditional backgrounds (engineer to PM, for example) get a free pass. If this describes you, use one sentence to help orient the recruiter if your experience is not clear cut.
Here are a few more sections to cut from your resume. Trust me on these: hiring managers often see them as a red flag.
🚩List of conferences or hackathons you attended
🚩Competitions you participated in, but didn’t win
🚩Side projects ( unless you’re a student applying for APM type program)
🚩Volunteer activities taking up a significant portion of the resume
Avoid banal bullet points like "participated in product development", "dictated the roadmap" or "tested user experience". Concentrate on highlighting areas of real impact only. Focus on things that show you have product vision and scope, such as launching a new product.
Remember: this is not an inventory of everything you know how to do. The only other skills you should highlight are ones that make you competitive in the marketplace or give you a unique advantage.
Your skills section should show concrete, marketable skills that make you stand out. Here are a few tips for choosing the right ones:
It’s usually a red flag if you list things like “ stakeholder engagement”, "led cross-functional teams", “requirement analysis”, etc. separately. These should be woven into your job description or bullet points.
It’s often misunderstood that you have to list these for ATS algorithms to catch them — please be mindful that resumes are eventually read by a human and also ATS mainly screens for technical keywords. Hiring managers see keyword bingo as a red flag against the maturity level of the candidate.
Now that you’ve articulated your work experience, accomplishments, and skills in a clear, brief format, it’s time to contextualize them to the job you want.
While you do this, don't lose sight of the things every PM needs to focus on. Every point needs to show that you can:
There are three steps to help you customize your resume to each role. At the end, you'll have a few versions of your resume-- usually one per company, depending on the products you want to work on.
Step one: Make a short list of PM jobs you want. For each company, you're going to do some research. Learn as much as you can about the culture, the team, and the product.
Step two: Figure out where there's a mutual fit, or where your skills and the company's needs overlap. How? Write a short description of why you want to work for that company. Then, connect it to your resume. Look at your experience and ask “why would they want me to work there?”. Practice re-writing your bullet points to fit that answer.
Step three: Customize your resume in subtle ways. Identify 3–5 keywords from each job description you want to incorporate into your resume, without being obvious.
We’re now ready to format your resume! I know, it took a lot to get here, but keep in mind being a Product Manager for a top company is highly competitive and highly compensated. Your career trajectory (and your wallet) will benefit from your effort!
If you've done the other steps properly, the layout will kind of fall into place. There are two more components to keep in mind:
A note on cover letters: Nowadays a cover letter is not required by recruiters or hiring managers - unless you're applying for a startup. Having a strong bio on your LinkedIn is usually sufficient.
If you have questions or need help writing or reviewing your Product Manager resume or you want some resume templates — sign up for our course to get started.
Already interviewing? Ask us about FREE resources for top tech companies like Google, Facebook, AirBnB, Uber, etc.
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