Product Management is a hot job. Top tech firms and start-ups recruiting PMs routinely receive 500+ applications for a single position. That's less than 1% success rate. Candidates usually don't know this, but the most competitive step in the recruiting process is the cover letter and resume screening. That's where more than 60% of candidates get eliminated.
So how do you do it? How do you craft a PM resume that gets you interviews at Google, Facebook or Amazon? You probably already have a resume. But how do you make sure it works for PM roles at tech firms?
Because here is the thing. PM resumes are actually different to CVs for other jobs. So, let's step through the product manager resume basics and writing tips you should be aware of. And let's also review a CV sample that landed PM interviews with companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
1. What firms look for ↑
The first step towards crafting a product manager resume that will land you interviews at top tech companies and start-ups is to understand what these firms are actually looking for. Good PMs typically have a mix of technical (“hard”) skills and soft skills. Let’s step through the most important competences in each of these two categories.
1.1 Technical skills (aka "hard" skills)
Product development follows a standard lifecycle: identifying and planning a product opportunity, designing the product, building it, launching it to market, and assessing its success to be able to iterate.
Good PMs are able to lead or contribute at each of the steps in the lifecycle. They therefore need a broad range of technical skills. The list below can seem intimidating but bear in mind that PMs are jacks of all trade – not experts in each area.
a. Strategy skills to identify and plan the product opportunity
Building a product starts with identifying an opportunity. This is often a customer problem that is not solved, or that could be solved in a better way (i.e. cheaper, faster, simpler, etc). Good PMs can identify these opportunities, validate them with potential customers and build action plans that lead to success.
For your resume: this means you should highlight any strategy work you have done in the past. This could include carrying out user or market research, identifying and solving problems in past jobs or even simply writing a business plan.
b. Design skills to design the product
Once an opportunity has been validated the next step is to turn it into a user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. PMs usually don't lead that part of the process. But they need to have a good eye for UX and UI to be able to give constructive feedback to the design team. It's also helpful to be able to put initial wireframes and mock-ups together to give these teams a starting point.
For your resume: this means you should highlight any design experience you have had in the past. This can include creating UX wireframes or UI mock-ups for projects or even taking design or drawing classes. It can also mean having used tools such as Sketch and / or Photoshop.
c. Engineering skills to build the product
Once the product is designed the engineering team will start building it. Good PMs are technical enough to understand how engineers will build the product. They can credibly push back on time estimates when required, they understand technical constraints and can help engineers make the right trade-offs. When talking to other functions such as design or marketing they can be the voice of the engineering team.
For your resume: this means you should list any computer science degree or coding bootcamp you have done in the past. Alternatively having coded simple web pages or applications or even just having worked with engineering teams in the past is also a great asset.
d. Digital marketing to launch the product
The product is ready, it’s now time to launch it. Good PMs are familiar with a range of digital marketing practices and channels. They can help the marketing team decide which audiences to target and what messages to use for the launch.
For your resume: this means that you should mention any experience you have related to marketing. That could include writing blog posts, designing digital paid ads or running social media channels among many other things.
Note: some companies even have a specific role for this part of the product lifecycle: the Product Marketing Manager (PMM). In these instances, the PMM leads the launch activities and the PM is just there to support as needed.
e. Data analytics skills to assess the product success and iterate
Once a product has been launched, PMs are in charge of assessing whether it's a success or not. They therefore need to be comfortable setting success metrics, analysing data and writing reports for the other project stakeholders.
For your resume: this means having carried out a lot of data analysis and communicated your findings in the past. That can include using tools such as Excel, SQL, Python and Tableau among others.
1.2 Soft skills
In addition to strong technical skills, good PMs also have soft skills that they use day to day.
PMs are in charge of deciding what product features will be built. In a lot of cases PMs don’t have hierarchical authority over teammates. They therefore need to be good leaders. In practice this means they work well with others, can take multiple opinions into account and rally their team around a common goal and plan.
For your resume: this means you should clearly highlight any experience where you’ve led or managed groups of people. If you are at the beginning of your career this can include University clubs, sports teams or any side projects.
PMs interface with multiple stakeholders: engineers, designers, senior management, etc. They spend a good part of their day in meetings, writing emails and giving project updates. Good PMs are therefore strong communicators. They are clear, concise and adapt their message to their audience.
For your resume: this means your recruiter will pay very close attention to how you have communicated your skills and experience. A resume is a disguised communication exercise - treat it like one!
In a lot of companies PMs are heavily involved in making sure the project they work on is delivered smoothly. They are sometimes supported by Scrum Masters or Agile Coaches but this isn't always the case. Good PMs can therefore organise the work of their team effectively and prioritise tasks as needed.
For your resume: this means you should mention any experience you've got in delivering complex projects involving multiple stakeholders. If you have worked in an agile environment in the past this is particularly valuable.
2. Tips for success ↑
Now that you know what top tech firms look for, let's turn our attention to how you should package that information in your PM resume. We've reviewed hundreds of CVs over the past few years and have summarised the top 10 things we have learned below.
Tip #1: Keep it to one page
We know it’s challenging. There might be a lot of different opportunities you want to talk about. But one of the jobs of a PM is to prioritise. You should therefore only select the experiences which help you demonstrate that you are a good fit for the role you are applying for. A resume doesn’t need to be comprehensive. It needs to highlight the right parts of your experience.
Tip #2: Use standard font / format
Using an unusual format or font is tempting. You might think it will help you stand out, but it’s actually a very risky strategy. If your resume looks out of the ordinary your recruiter might think: “Who is this person? I’m not sure they get what a resume is for.” You should focus 100% of your efforts on making the content noticeable, not the format. Just stick to what works: Arial or Calibri, font 10 or more, black and white.
Tip #3: Use 5 sections
All product management resumes should have five sections: Personal information, Education, Work experience, Extra-curricular achievements and Additional skills. One of the most common mistakes we see in resumes is to not have an "Extra-curricular achievements" section. This is a BIG mistake as this is a section you can use to show complementary skills to what you have demonstrated through your work experience. For instance, you might be working as an engineer and looking to become a product manager. You can use that section to talk about any side-project you have built and how many users / revenue you achieved .
Tip #4: Remove that top summary / objective
A resume is a summary of your relevant experience. Adding a summary or an objective at the top of your resume is redundant. It’s the equivalent of having a summary INSIDE another summary. If you follow the other tips on this list your resume should be easily readable. Recruiters should find the information they are looking for immediately. Save some space, you really don’t need that summary and objective at the top.
Tip #5: Use action verbs
Resume screeners don’t READ, they SCAN resumes. You literally have 10 seconds to make a good first impression. The easiest way to achieve this is to use the keywords that product management recruiters look for. Each of your bullet points should demonstrate one of the product management skills we have listed in the first section of this article.
For instance, you should have bullet points on design skills which start with: “Designed a new user experience…” And bullet points on leadership which start with: “Lead a squad of 8 members including…” Action verbs are great because they are at the beginning of sentences. When your resume screener reads them, they will immediately think: “Ok that’s great this person has got the right skills. Let’s take a closer look at their resume.”
Tip #6: Quantify everything
PMs are obsessed with quantifying things. A big part of their job is to crunch numbers to back up ideas for new products and features. If your idea is not backed up by numbers it's just a point of view. If it is backed up by numbers it becomes an argument and has more gravitas. You should use this to your advantage in your resume and quantify your achievements as much as possible.
For instance, if you were awarded a scholarship to study abroad you should write something like: "Awarded Entente Cordiale Scholarship to study in the UK (2 scholarships for 1,000+ applicants)." This will make you stand out much more than if you had just written: "Awarded a competitive scholarship to study in the UK."
Tip #7: Show your PM skills
As mentioned in the first section of this guide, PM recruiters are looking for a mix of technical and soft skills. This includes things like: design, coding, and leadership. If you have a standard resume that you use for other jobs you will have to adapt it to product management. If you don't do this you run the risk of your CV being overlooked as it's not tailored enough.
Tip #8: Be unique
Your resume screener will have looked at hundreds of CVs before they look at yours. The reality is a lot of these resumes are quite similar. So, if you’ve done something a little bit unique in the past you should not hesitate to write about it. For instance, you might have worked for 6 months in a surf shop in Australia, or you might have done a 6-month unpaid internship for a charity. Everything that differentiates you in a positive way should be clearly mentioned on your resume.
Tip #9: Ask for feedback
One of the easiest things you can do to improve your resume is to ask product managers for feedback. They will cast a fresh pair of eyes on the document and flag typos, missing information and sentences they didn’t fully understand. Writing about yourself can be difficult so it’s a good idea to get all the external help you can.
Tip #10: Proofread
Your resume is a product. Don’t ship it with typos! Use the grammar checking tool in Word or Google Doc and proofread it until it’s perfect. This is harder than it sounds because proofreading comes at the very end of the process when you want to move on to something else. But attention to detail is a core PM skill. So, don’t skip this step!
3. Google resume PM sample ↑
Now that you know about the 10 most important tips to craft the perfect product manager resume let's use them to build a Google PM resume sample you can reuse for your own applications. Every PM CV should be split out in 5 sections:
- Personal information
- Work experience
- Extra-curricular achievements
- Additional skills
Let's step through each section one by one and highlight the important elements you need to replicate in your own resume.
But before we dive in, please note the following points about the template:
- This is an anonymised resume from a candidate who got interviews at Google, Facebook, Amazon and more. You can trust this template works.
- A lot of people use this template. Get inspiration from it, but every sentence in your resume should be written from scratch.
- This resume might look impressive. It's one of the best ones we have seen. Even if you have not achieved as much as this person, you can still get an interview.
3.1 Personal information
In this section you should include all the basic personal details the company you are applying for is requesting. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you put this section together:
- Use bigger font for your name than for the rest of the section to make it stand out.
- Don't insert your headshot, date of birth or gender unless specifically requested by the firm.
- Use a neutral / professional email address. Keep your hilarious email address for friends and family!
- Double check all your details including address and phone number before sending your resume.
This section should summarise the different degrees you graduated with. It should NOT include your High School experience. If you have recently graduated and only have internship experiences, this section should follow the Personal Information section. But if you have already had a first job for 1+ years, you should swap this section with the Work experience section. Here are a few tips on how to write this section:
- If you have multiple degrees (e.g.: a BA and an MBA), you should write a subsection like the one above for each degree, starting with your highest level of education first (e.g.: your MBA).
- For each degree, include the name of the degree, university and dates in the headline. You should also list any subjects you have taken that are relevant to product management (e.g. design, coding, entrepreneurship, data analysis, etc).
- List your grades (e.g.: GPA) as well as results to other standardised tests you have taken (e.g.: SAT, GMAT, etc.) that demonstrate your intellectual horsepower.
- Detail all the awards and scholarships you have received in the past, and most importantly how competitive they were (e.g.: 2 awards for 1,000 students).
- If you have written a thesis / dissertation, you should also summarise the topic in a way that's VERY easy to understand.
- If you did tech bootcamps (e.g. General Assembly) or followed online courses (e.g. Udacity) this is where you should list them and link to any projects you have built during your time on the bootcamps.
3.3 Work experience
The work experience section should include the previous work positions you have held as well as your main achievements in these roles. Here are some more important points to help you put this section together:
- Include the name of the position you held and the employer as well as the location and dates in the headline. The first line of the section should then describe your employer / department in one sentence. Notice that this mirrors the structure used for the Education section.
- Start each of your bullet points with an ACTION VERB that matches one of the 8 skills firms look for in PM resumes (Strategy, Design, Coding, Digital marketing, Data analysis, Leadership, Communication, Organisation). "Designed", "Analysed", "Lead", or "Built" are good examples of such verbs.
- Balance the skills you demonstrate as much as possible. For instance, notice how some of the bullet points above are about leadership while others are about coding and design.
- Focus on the RESULTS of what you did and QUANTIFY them as much as possible to highlight the tangible contributions you have made. This is not the time to be shy about your accomplishments!
3.4 Extra-curricular achievements
PM roles require a very large breadth of skills and it can be difficult to demonstrate all of them through your work experience. That's where listing side-projects in an "Extra-curricular achievements" section can be very helpful.
If you are a fresh graduate then you will probably already have that section on your resume. If you're transitioning careers and don't have that section yet on your CV you should consider adding it to demonstrate a broad skillset.
The way you write about your Extra-curricular experiences should follow the same format and tips as for the Work experience section. Here are different types of activities you could write about (not exhaustive):
- Side businesses: if you have set up a side business you should mention it along with the number of users and / or revenue you have achieved.
- Coding projects: if you're not a developer but have built simple web apps to teach yourself to code this is also the place to mention it.
- Writing / design: if you enjoy writing or design and have a blog where you show your work you can also share it in that section.
- Meetups / events: if you have organised meetups or events in the past this is a great way to highlight leadership skills.
- University clubs / sports teams: if you are a recent graduate and have held a position in a University club (e.g. Entrepreneur club) or were part of a sports team then this is also a great thing to mention.
3.5 Additional skills and interests
Finally, you should focus the last section of your resume on additional skills you master. Our recommendation here is to keep things simple and to list the foreign languages, programming languages (e.g. HTML, CSS, JS, Python, etc,) and tools (e.g. Jira, Sketch, Tableau, etc.) you master.
Any questions about PM resumes?
If you have any questions about product management resumes, do not hesitate to ask them below and we will be more than happy to answer them. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!
The IGotAnOffer team