As a product manager, you build products for your customers. You figure out what users need, and you create a solution to solve their needs.
As a job seeker, you build resumes for potential employers. Similarly, you need to figure out what employers want before making a resume that fits.
For product managers, there is no right background, school or hard skills. Different products often require different skill sets, which means that you need to tailor your resume for different PM roles.
Act like a product manager and ask yourself: is this what they want?
Make sure you have your contact information on top of the page. Here’s a quick checklist:
A resume summary highlights your top achievements and skills; a resume objective describes your career goals. Nowadays it’s best to integrate them and reflect both where you have been and where you are going in this section.
It takes a lot of time and effort to write a great work description. You want to show your best talents without boasting.
A common flaw: you mentioned job duties but not achievements or results. That’s as if saying “I’ve taken a course in Statistics.” Great, but did you get a C or an A? A better way is to mark achievements, preferably in numbers. For example, “increased product sales by 30% in a year” looks much more impressive than “responsible for product sales”.
If you have enough space, try to give more context or methodologies behind the results. Here’s a simple formula for work experience descriptions by Laszlo Bock, former Google SVP of People Operations:
By giving context, employers can get a better understanding of what the numbers mean and how you reach them. It also shows that you’re not boasting. Even if you cannot include them in your resume due to space limitations, make sure you’re ready to talk about them in your cover letter and interview.
Finally, avoid too much technical jargon. While your final interviewer will likely understand PM jargons, you first want HRs to understand your strengths.
Beside basic information such as university name, location, years in school, majors and minors, you can include more details that explain what you’ve learned and accomplished in school. Here are some ideas:
With that said, it’s better to stick to the basics if you graduated more than 3 years ago or if your academic experience is irrelevant to the PM role.
Dumping a bunch of words in the skills section shows that you’re not actually good at any of them. Make sure you are selective when listing your skills.
How to choose the right resume skills?
Certifications are not required, but they show that you have fundamental knowledge in the product field, and that you’re willing to take time to invest in yourself. There are lots of online courses in product management available, such as AIPMM Certified Product Manager Credentials, Udemy Product Management 101, and Digital Product Management by EdX and Boston University.
If you have a strong certification that speaks to the position, consider writing it in your resume summary, such as “PMI Agile Certified Practitioner with 5 years experience”.
Product management is a competitive field. You want to use all kinds of approaches to stand out.
Do some research on the company. Are they involved in any conferences, publications or groups? Have you done anything that might spark their interest? For example, if you have a side project that dealt with a similar issue they’re tackling, share it. If you’ve attended an event held by them, name it. If you don’t have enough space, talk about them in your cover letter.
A quick overview of 3 common resume formats:
Of all the options above, a chronological format is the best choice as long as you don’t have large gaps between jobs, especially for a field like product management that changes rapidly over time. A hybrid resume is also acceptable if you want some flexibility.
If you’re not sure whether your resume will be read by an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), stick to a traditional one-column format. Two-columns will often lead to distortions by most ATS systems.
If you’re sure a human will read your resume, two-columns are usually more reader-friendly and visually attractive. Try moving shorter sections such as contact information, resume summary and skills to the left column.
Does the product or the brand highly value aesthetics? If so, tailor your resume to speak to its style. Use design softwares such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Canva, or use customizable resume builders to help. (e.g. CakeResume)
Even if the company doesn’t value visual creativity as much, you still want your resume to look appealing. Try resume builders such as CakeResume to make formatting less painful, or look for a suitable template to change from.
Use a professional font such as Arial, Calibri, Helvetica and Times New Roman. More modern fonts are also acceptable if you’re applying for an innovative startup, but make sure it’s readable.
Also, use no more than 2 font types and no more than 2 colors other than black and white. Finally, make sure the font size and spacing are comfortable and easy to read.
Like the design? Use CakeResume's free resume builder to easily make yourself a stunning resume.
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