Getting your resume in shape for Product Management (PM) roles
What do hiring managers look for in Product Managers?
I am part of the Product Manager (PM) hiring process in my organisation. In the past, I have hired Product Managers at various levels in B2B and B2C organisations. I wanted to share what hiring managers look for in a PM resume.
1. Highlight what makes you ideal for the role
Consider tailoring your resume for individual job applications. This could be experience working in a similar space/domain, working in a similar organization, and/or skills required in the new role. For skills, consider highlighting your projects/initiatives where you exhibited the required skills.
2. Set the context
Unless you work for a global consumer brand, the recruiter nor the hiring manager may not be aware of your current organization. Write a couple of sentences to introduce your current organization. Follow it up with more information about your product and product area. This could include the problem it solves, the number of customers/users, with a link to the company website for more information.
Setting context will make it easier for the reader to understand your work and its impact.
3. Your impact and achievements should be easy to understand
Once you have identified key work to highlight in the resume, use the CAR (Context, Action, Result) framework to describe your achievements.
Start by setting the context - it could be by stating the problem or information on the previous state. Your hiring manager may not be familiar with your current domain. Setting the context will help the reader appreciate your achievements.
Follow it up with the action - did you convince stakeholders, introduce processes or new capabilities?
Finally, talk about the results you saw. What was the outcome/impact of your actions? Use data, where possible, to highlight the impact.
Writing about your work experience is the most difficult part of creating a resume. Have a couple of friends proofread your resume to ensure it is easy to understand.
Also, stay away from padding your resume. It is easy for an experienced hiring manager to weed out resumes with inflated achievements and outcomes. It can reflect on you badly and will be difficult to defend your resume during interviews about your work experience.
4. Discussing tools
It is assumed that the candidate is either familiar with the usual software development tools (e.g. JIRA, Slack, Teams, Google Analytics) or will be able to pick them up quickly. I would suggest skip listing out the obvious tools in the resume unless the job description explicitly requires it.
5. Demonstrated collaboration experience
Working with a cross-functional team - engineering, product design, UX research, product marketing, legal, sales, etc is an important part of PM life. Having experience partnering with your cross-functional team members is a valuable aspect of success. Do include some information about your cross-functional stakeholders.
6. Order your information with most important at the top - design the resume to be scannable
Create your resume in a way so that it can be read quickly or in-depth. This ensures that the essential parts of your experience get read. It is hard to go wrong if you use standard resume templates offered by Google Docs and other platforms.
7. Not looking for confidential information
Balance showing what you have done without revealing confidential information. By revealing too much information, you’re demonstrating your ethics and own personal code of conduct. A hiring manager or recruiter will be more interested in what you achieved in the project and how it moved it forward.
8. Minimize use of phrases, jargon and acronyms - or spell it out
When creating a resume it should be as easy to read as possible. If the recruiter or hiring manager has to Google or guess what the acronym is they are likely to move onto a more straightforward-to-read resume. Use layman terms. Expand on the jargon or acronyms, if they are required in the resume.
9. Keep it succinct and below 3 pages (ideally 2)
There is a temptation to include everything you have worked on. However, imagine the declining attention of a recruiter and hiring manager after scanning hundreds of resumes. Focus on highlighting work experience which is relevant to the job requirement. Then prioritise it accordingly. Start removing content from the bottom until it is 2 pages.
10.Sit back and relax while you wait to hear from the recruiter
Recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes. There might be candidates moving internally or another candidate with experience meeting the exact requirements. Do not be disheartened if you do not receive a call/email. There is probably a better opportunity around the corner.
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