Updated: March 7, 2023 - 6 min read
Whether it’s graduating college, leaving home, or changing careers or workplaces, a new year brings changes into the lives of almost everyone. To help you cope with these events, you should make some intentional changes as well!
If you’re reading this article, you’re presumably looking to either change workplaces as an existing Product Manager or trying to break into the market.
These are both great goals, but without an up-to-date resumé to catch a potential employer’s attention, you may be out of luck.
You should be aiming to update your resumé roughly once every three months, no matter what profession you’re in.
In this article, we’ll be helping you to maximize the effectiveness of your resumé in terms of landing a Product Manager role. Specifically, we’ll cover:
Effective openings and keyword use
Adapting your experience to suit the role
How to best showcase your abilities and accomplishments.
Let’s get straight into it.
Curate Your Resumé for Every Position
Targeting your resumé to a position is an incredibly important step of the process. If you’re applying for a role ten years after you had an internship at Amazon, it’s probably not worth including that particular point on your resumé.
Employers are looking for extremely relevant experience, not just all of the work experience you’ve had in your life.
You’ll want to be picking experience that best matches the qualities that the job ad asks for, or that you know will address a niche that the company wants to fill.
Craft a Strong Opening
As of a 2018 study by Ladders Inc., the average recruiter spends around seven seconds looking at a resumé before deciding whether or not to move to the next one.
Making sure that those seven seconds are the best they can be is a great way to improve your chances of getting your resumé looked at longer, and the best way to do that is to use a strong opening!
Whether that’s a strong resumé summary front and center, work experience or education being placed in an easily readable location, or some other key point that you think will set you apart from other applicants, making a good first impression is key.
Use Relevant Keywords
Utilizing the right keywords in your resumé is a great way to make sure that it actually makes its way to a human.
With more and more companies screening applications to find relevant phrases and keywords, having these is much more likely to help your application succeed.
You should always look at job listings to choose the best keywords — ideally, you’ll repeat some phrases or words from the job description with a little modification.
However, if you’re stuck, here are some ideas:
“X years of experience in Product Management”
“Comprehensive understanding of <tool>” (keywords: names of tools you’ve used)
“X years of previous experience managing products in <relevant industry>” (keywords: managing products, industry that is relevant to the employer)
“Experience coordinating with various stakeholders, even those who are skeptical” (keywords: stakeholders, skeptical, persuasion).
Showcase Your Projects
Telling a potential employer about who you are and where you’ve worked before is a great start, but to really help your experience sink in you’ll want to list some concrete things that you’ve worked on.
These don’t necessarily have to be projects in the workplace if you don’t have much experience in Product Management yet!
Instead, list projects you’ve done as a student for your college courses, or relevant hobby projects — maybe you’ve started an online store or volunteered to help bring a community project to life.
Incorporate Experience from Outside of Work History
Just like we’ve been talking about with product showcases, you can also list relevant experience that isn’t necessarily tied to your work history.
If you’ve done volunteering in general that relates to Product Management — maybe you helped a community group advertise their magazine — or had any personal adventures in the world of Product Management, these can all be great things to add to your resumé.
Demonstrate ROI-Driven Experience and Accomplishments
Showing an employer the results of your Product Management campaigns is a great way to highlight your skills. To make it even better, back it up with ROI data.
Hard data will make a hiring manager more likely to seriously consider you as an applicant.
Double Down on Your Strategic Skills and Decision-Making Abilities
Product Management is very involved with strategies and decisions, so make sure that you point out that you can make plans with the best of them!
If you have a resumé summary, point out your skills in this area here first briefly, then expand on them further into your resumé.
Don’t outright repeat yourself, but making sure a hiring manager sees your relevant experience here is key.
Showcase Your In-Depth Understanding of the Product and Industry
If you can show your potential employer that you understand the industry they work in and the product you’ll be working with already, you immediately become a much stronger applicant.
Making sure that you point out this in-depth understanding (if you have it) is key to improving your odds of getting the position.
List similar industry experience in your work experience section or similar products you’ve worked with in your project selection.
Don’t Forget Your Soft Skills
Soft skills are the cherry on top for many employers, so don’t forget to make space for them on your resumé!
Communication, teamwork, and other similar soft skills are particularly useful for Product Management.
If You Have No Managerial Experience Yet: Compensate with Relevant Skills
If you’re just trying to break into the Product Management market and haven’t managed things before, use some relevant skills to help!
Maybe you’re good with people and communications (perhaps you’ve worked as a secretary or PA), or have experience with performing multiple tasks around the same central goal.
Or, Lean Into Your Technical Skills/Background
Pointing out strong technical skills is another great way to move your application up the chain as it means that an employer won’t need to worry as much about training you in the tools that they use.
The Bottom Line
Updating your Product Management resumé for 2023 is something you should definitely make sure to do, even if you’re not currently looking at switching workplaces.
Make sure to include only relevant experience, and list some relevant projects and industries to make your skills pop. Good luck with your applications!
Updated: March 7, 2023