Discover more from Break Into PM
5 tips to nail your Product Manager resume
How to make sure you're noticed by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc and get through to the interview
PHOTO VIA JEN LEAHY/FACEBOOK
That’s how long the average recruiter or hiring manager will spend on your resume.
That’s what stands between you and your shot at getting that PM role. That first impression can make or break your process.
Having a well-crafted resume can open a ton of doors and help you get interviews almost anywhere. I’ve been interviewed by almost every company I reached out or applied to in the last two years. I put that down to being very intentional around the crafting of my resume. Yes, it’s time consuming. It’s difficult. But the gains are considerable.
So here are 5 tips to nail your PM resume:
A concise & compelling narrative
Cover the basics
Focus on impact & results
Balance your PM skills
Let’s dive into each one.
A concise & compelling narrative
Those 6 seconds. That’s the first glance. If you can hook your reviewer within those 6 seconds, they’ll look at your resume for far longer. Maybe even multiple times.
And if you’re interesting enough, they’ll want to interview you to find out more about you.
This is the primary purpose of a resume for recruiting (when you’re not senior management) - to get you an interview. Think about the story you want to tell your reader. Show them what kind of PM you are or could be. Show them why they should hire you.
Think about how you layer your narrative. Think about the last good movie trailer you saw. You don’t get the whole story from the trailer. But you get enough of a narrative to be intrigued. You get given crumbs and snippets that make you want to see what happens next. Take a similar approach with your resume.
Equally important, is to ensure you present your narrative as concisely as possible. Think elevator pitch, not life history. A highlights reel. Your best hits. Your resume, as a whole, should clearly answer — “why you?” and not “what did you do in the last 10 years? Top companies like Google are looking for great communicators and candidates often struggle striking a balance between clarity and proving they’re the right fit.
Boil your experiences down. Decide what’s worth keeping, what’s worth highlighting, what’s worth expanding on and get rid of the rest. Prioritise ruthlessly. Cut content that is old or not relevant. Focus on what’s most relevant for the role.
And by the end of this, I assure you, a 5-sec glance of your resume will be all that’s needed to convey your story.
Bottom line: Compose a narrative of your best hits
Cover the basics
I’ve reviewed 800+ resumes to date. I remember a resume when I was hiring for a role. It was 3 pages long. It had 15 projects over 4 years. The saddest thing was that I had no idea what this person could really even do despite all those words. This, sadly, was not a unique case.
And then I’ve seen resumes that go the other way. 1-page. Great, good start. But then I get presented with a terribly inefficient, glitzy layout where I get minimal info on the candidate. There’s a variety of headings, colours, icons, etc, etc. Style over substance.
Please keep your resume simple. Keep it to one page. Keep it clean and clear. And think about how to extract as much value as possible per unit of real estate. Don’t overcrowd, some whitespace is good. The layout should communicate content clearly and with as little friction as possible for the reader. Remember your reviewers are likely to read dozens, maybe hundreds, of resumes per sitting.
Here are some other basic qualifiers of a great resume to make sure you hit:
PDF! Why candidates don’t submit a pdf is beyond me, but it happens more than one would think
Skip the objective/summary/mission - we know what you want: this role. Also your resume is not a cover letter
Typos. Very important. Easy to fix but disastrous if missed
Bullet points. No one really wants to read prose for a resume
Don’t go overboard on buzzwords
Contact info. Name and email address should be prominent. Github optional.
Bottom line: 1-pg. Brevity and simplicity.
Focus on impact & results
What are you trying to demonstrate with your resume? That YOU would be a great PM. And what do PMs really do? The PM role is very vague and hugely varied across organisations and teams. But the north-star for every PM, is delivering impact and creating value for users. Which is what you need to demonstrate on your resume.
Ideally, every bullet is results-oriented and you are constantly showing a strong bias for impact. Lazlo Bock, CEO Humu & former SVP of People Ops @ Google, always recommends the following format for concise bullet points to articulate your impact:
"Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z]."
X-Y-Z. Easy enough to remember.
Let’s put this into practice:
Poor: “Increased server query response time”
Good: “Increased server query response time by restructuring our API”
Excellent: “Increased server query response time by 15% by restructuring our API”
Lets take another example:
Poor: “Won second place at Hackathon”
Good: “Won second place out of 100 teams at Hackathon”
Excellent: “Won second place out 100 teams at HackMIT Hackathon by working in a team of three to develop an ML email productivity tool”
Given the best practice above, I also highly recommend that you stick to accomplishments where you can quantify results and the impact you had as a result.
Bottom line: Use X-Y-Z formatted bullets to concisely articulate your impact
Evenly distribute your PM skills
I mentioned before that the PM role can be vaguely defined and there is a lot of variation. However, as articulated by Todd Jackson, former VP of Product & Design @ Dropbox, great PMs tend to do the following:
Articulate what a winning product looks like.
Rally the team to build it.
Iterate on it until they get it right.
And you want your resume to highlight you being able to deliver flawlessly on these 3 points (or some other variant of what makes a great PM). Use these 3 points to inspire some themes/qualities and be as MECE as possible. I usually recommend something along these lines:
Problem solving & data analysis
You then want to make sure you try to balance the content of your resume so your bullet points are spread relatively evenly across these themes. One exercise you could do is to assign each bullet a theme and check to see how many of each you have on your resume.
Of course, customise this as needed depending on the role you’re applying to, your current role and past experience. But generally you’ll want to try to show a balanced profile and indicate you have the qualifying characteristics of a PM.
Bottom line: Balance PM traits across your resume
Finally, some advanced layout and formatting tips to ensure you make life easy for your reader. Organise things as reviewers and recruiters expect to see them.
If you’re a recent grad, or have not graduated — your education background should be on the top of your resume. For everyone else- it should be listed on the bottom.
Include school, degree, major, GPA, and month and year of graduation. But the further away you are from college, the less college and university information you're expected to include.
Try to list no more than 3 past jobs that are relevant to the position you’re applying for
For each role, include the years you were there, no months
3-5 bullets max
Ideally, the first bullet is a short 1 sentence description of your job.
Each point should be 2 lines, max
If you have a lengthy work history
Avoid going over 1-page
Instead, maybe add a short, additional section mentioning your prior experience (with minimal detail)
ROI on crafting your resume
Remember, the purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. To get you into the hiring process. But without a great resume, you’ll be closing a lot of doors on yourself. Your resume is something you can control and craft, so invest time intentionally to whip it into shape. The return is well worth it. Good luck!
This post has been published on www.productschool.com communities.