Looking for a new job in any field can be a daunting experience. Looking for a new job as a product manager in tech — especially in this season of layoffs — can be an incredibly challenging, difficult, and mentally draining process.
It’s not enough that you are a well-rounded individual with several years of experience. You may have even worked in a particular or a range of industries as a product manager for different product teams.
You must also be able to explain, describe, and communicate said experience with recruiters that help you to stand out from the sea of other applicants for the same position. The goal is also to show why your experience is relevant for the job you’ve applied for and why recruiting you will help them fulfill the requirements for that role.
As such, having an appropriately worded, structured, and simple resume goes a long way to showcase who you are, what your experiences are, how those experiences are relevant to the role they want to fill, and why you are the best candidate for the job.
In this article, I will cover not only what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in a resume, but also how you should describe said items — whether they are about your work experience, education, hobbies, or otherwise — to represent yourself in the best light possible with recruiters, hiring managers, or your future employers.
Just like any other resume, a product manager’s resume must have several mandatory sections that cover basic requirements for the job (i.e. education background, work history, years of experience, etc.).
However, unlike resumes for other roles or industries, product manager resumes must also explain how the PM discovered problems they were trying to solve, how they solved them, how they determined those problems have been solved (i.e. the definition of success), and the next few steps they took to continue the required work.
All of the above need to be described simply and succinctly, yet provide enough detail that the recruiters, hiring managers, and your future employers can feel comfortable that you know what you are talking about and can make an immediate impact in the role.
At a minimum, the following sections need to be covered by a product manager in their resume:
Although this might sound like a basic and obvious requirement, you would be surprised by the number of product managers that forget to include these simple but really crucial details. This helps the recruiter, hiring manager, or your future employer establish that you are not only who you say you are, but that you have the necessary work rights to even begin the job.
The following table shows the basic information you should provide, why you should provide it, and the typical format it should be presented in your resume:
|Name||Sounds simple enough, but some folks only provide their first and not their last names, and vice versa.
Provide your recruiter, hiring manager, or future employer enough information to know who they are talking to and how they should address you (e.g. Mr, Mrs, Dr.)
|Current position||It is necessary to also include your current product role as a subtitle below your name. This helps the person looking at your resume identify that you are currently working in the role that you applied for (i.e. product manager) and provides an initial impression that you are who you say you are||Product Manager|
|Email address and phone number||Provide a method for them to contact you to schedule future interviews, and an avenue where you can also obtain their email addresses for future correspondence (i.e. questions about the role, compensation negotiations, etc.)||[email protected]
+1 (000) 123-4567
|Physical address||Do not provide a full address (i.e. 123 Street, State, Country, postcode, etc.). Rather, simply provide the town and state that you live in. Depending on the role that you are applying for, some roles may require you to live in a similar town and state, or some roles might not care and allow you to work remotely.
Regardless, providing this information up front helps identify early on if you are in the right place to possibly start your future job and is one more question they don’t need to ask you.
|Sydney, New South Wales|
|LinkedIn profile link||This is a must-have for any serious product manager resume. More likely than not, recruiters and hiring managers will be interested in comparing what a candidate mentions in their resume with their work history and description on LinkedIn.
As such, providing your LinkedIn address and info is a crucial basic requirement and a must-have for any product manager resume.
Pro-tip: you can change your LinkedIn URL in settings to make it easier to read and link. Do this if your original LinkedIn URL is filled with numbers and special characters (this happens by default if you have a common name).
|Nationality (optional)||This is an optional step. Depending on the requirements for the role, some companies choose not to hire anyone that does not have full working rights in the state or country where the job is located.
As such, providing your nationality or any work visa information can help a recruiter or hiring manager determine whether you can work in the location where the job is located and tick off another basic requirement to determine whether you are fit for the job.
|Australian, American, full work permit visa, etc.|
|Online portfolio (optional)||This is an optional step for product managers that have an online website or portfolio of their previous work.
Some product managers have a portfolio, some product managers don’t. There are arguments made on either side about whether they help product managers have an edge in the job application process.
Regardless, if you do have an online portfolio you’d like to share, it would be great to include it as part of the basic information for your resume.
This information should be the top part of your resume document and centered. An example of how this is structured can be seen below:
As a product manager, this is one of the most crucial, distinct, and important parts of your resume. You can showcase that you not only have the relevant working experience for the job but can highlight personal and professional attributes to help you stand out from the crowd. This can make a compelling case as to why you should be hired for the role compared to other applicants.
The following table provides the work experience information that you should be provided in your resume:
|Name of employer||You would be surprised by how many product managers leave this out of their resumes, but it’s a key and fundamental requirement in letting a recruiter or hiring manager know who you’ve been working for.||LogRocket, Inc.|
|Position with employer||Although it might be obvious to just put down “Product Manager” as the role title with your previous or current employer, some readers may be making the transition to product management for the first time. If that’s you, you might be wondering whether it’s worth putting down your current or previous job titles that may not be related to product management.
My advice would be to do so. PMs come from all different types of fields and expertise. Having a non-product management role as part of your resume does not, in my experience, invalidate you as a product manager in tech.
|Geographic location||Again, ensure that you’re including the location of your workplace. It might matter to some recruiters and hiring managers, who like to see that you’ve worked in the same geographic zone as some of their competitors, their customers, or if you’ve worked in a country renowned for having a certain industry or field (i.e. Silicon Valley).||Sydney, Australia|
|Length of employment||Again, this seems like a simple requirement but something that many product managers fail to include on their resumes. Having something generic like “1 year” as the length of employment for a candidate’s previous employer can be very vague and doesn’t say anything about when you started and when you left your previous role.
Provide exact dates in the format of MM/YY and, if you’re still working there, just bookend any length of time with the word “current” or “present.”
|March 2020 – December 2021
December 2021 – Present
|Work history||The method and manner in which you explain and describe your previous and current work history is key to you obtaining that first interview for your new product management role.
It’s not only important to be able to say what you’ve done but to also explain in enough simplicity and detail how and why you did it. This will be necessary to show recruiters and hiring managers that you have the skills necessary to take on the requisite role.
|See example below|
This information should come after your personal information and should dominate most of your resume:
As shown in the above example, it’s important that a prospective product management candidate is covering the following information as part of explaining and describing their work history. Let’s go over this in more detail.
The way you frame your work experience is key. There are a lot of methods out there, but the main point of them all is to demonstrate actionable results. You always want to provide enough context, too, so let’s talk about how to write work experience bullet points.
As per the first bullet point in the example above, start the explanation of your work experience with a short description of the company you worked for, what the company does, the team that you joined in the company, and what the team does in the company.
Next, break down the initiatives that you’ve been involved with in a simple, succinct yet detailed manner. Provide an explanation of the feature that was released, the problem that the feature is intended to solve, the result of releasing said feature, and whether the result meets your definition of success based on the metrics imposed for the feature.
The rest of your work history should provide explanations about the types of frameworks you use as a product manager for discovery and delivery, the tools used to gather metrics or organize user stories, as well as how your success as a product manager is judged within the company.
Another section of a product manager’s resume that goes missing far too often is formal education history. Years of experience as a product manager still does not preclude a candidate from including it as part of their resume. Sometimes, recruiters and hiring managers might want to know your career journey — i.e. what you did previously to achieve where you are today.
Having your formal education details down on your resume, such as the name of your university, the degrees you’ve studied, and when you graduated, forms a basic and important building block for recruiters and hiring managers to have a deeper understanding of where you started before becoming a product manager.
This information should come after your work history and form the third part of your resume. See the example of how you can format this below:
Not everyone goes to university, however, so if you don’t have this experience, that’s okay. There are many successful PMs — and people in all roles and disciplines — who didn’t receive a formal education before entering the workforce. If you had a high school diploma, that’s good to put down, but the most important thing is always experience.
Some candidates become product managers by making the transition into product management from a non-technology or non-technical role. As they make the transition, they might take an online course or two that teaches them the basics of what it means to be a product manager, as well as the fundamental practices they can learn and use immediately in their first product management role.
If you are in that position and are seeking your first PM role, I recommend including the online certifications that you may have taken to make the transition into product management, as this shows recruiters and hiring managers that not only are you are serious about becoming a product manager (if you are from a non-technical background), but that you were also willing to undertake further education at your own expense to make it happen. This highlights your willingness and dedication to take the plunge and make the transition into a different profession and field.
This information should come after your formal education history and form the fourth part of your resume. See example of how you can format this below:
Finally, you should round out your resume/CV with any personal hobbies, interests, or side hustles that are being done on the side along with your main role. Recruiters and hiring managers like product management candidates that are not only qualified and focused on the job, but show they have interests outside of work and can strike the balance between being productive at work and being productive in their personal life.
Additionally, listing down what your interests are will help recruiters and hiring managers to have something to start a conversation with you about, or to learn something new about you as a person without having to ask you. Remember, recruiters and hiring managers do not know you personally. Being able to share a little bit of that personality on your resume goes a long way to familiarize themselves with you during the job application process.
This information should come after your formal certifications and should be the last part of your resume. See the example below of how you can format this:
Use the above tips and you’ll be creating and formatting your resume like a product manager in no time! If you’d like me to review your resume, please feel free to visit me on Superpeer here.
Thanks for reading!
Featured image source: IconScout
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