Hi, I’m Dan, a former product manager and now advisor at Pathrise. I work with hundreds of product managers to help them land their dream job.
That means that recruiters will soon be inundated with product manager resumes. Likely, many of these will be using the same Microsoft or Google templates. But, if you can’t stand out from a first glance, your resume runs the risk of being put aside in favor of ones that do. And after your resume catches their eye, you need the best possible content to ensure you move forward.
Our advisors have looked over thousands of resumes, as both interviewers and advisors, and so we asked them to share the 2 biggest mistakes they see and the most important tips for product manager resumes. If you keep these mistakes in mind and follow the tips, your resume will shine through and move you from application to interview.
2 biggest mistakes on product manager resumes and how to avoid them:
Mistake 1 – Grunt vs. impact
Grunt is the word we use when referring to resume points that are focused only on what you worked on and what you were assigned to do. This is essentially describing the grunt work that you did, and it’s usually not a helpful or educational description of how you spent your time in any past experience or project. Grunt statements are sometimes a necessary evil, but should always try to be avoided. They usually look something like ‘Designed X for Y’ or ‘Worked on X using Y’.
Instead, optimize your resume by making use of…
Impact statements. These focus on what you accomplished and the results you achieved. They normally follow a structure that’s more like ‘Accomplished X by implementing Y which led to Z’ or ‘Designed X to accomplish Y, resulting in Z’. They might sometimes be a little bit longer, but being able to show the recruiter that your work mattered is definitely worth it.
Mistake 2 – Lack of quantification
We know it might feel hard to find numbers to quantify projects that haven’t been launched, or might not have gotten the results you desired, but if you ask the right questions, you can quantify your work so that interviewers understand the impact. Here are some questions that should help you quantify your work.
What was the scale?
- How many people did I manage or how many teams did I act as a liaison for?
- How many devices did I serve?
- How many scenarios/tests did I consider/handle?
- How many different methodologies did I implement?
What did I achieve as a result?
- How many users/groups used it?
- How many users did I launch to or will I launch to?
- By what percentage did I improve our old process?
- How much money did I produce in value?
- How many many hours did I save the company?
- What percentage of our old process did I replace?
Top 5 tips to make your product manager resume stand out
- Send the right message with your font
Sans serif fonts (fonts without the feet) are more modern-looking so we always recommend them for product manager resumes. When you use these fonts, you let the recruiter know you are tech savvy, sending the right first impression.
- Let colors work for you
Colors help draw the eye to important parts of your resume. But, make sure you use cool colors like blues, greens, purples, and teal and avoid warm colors like red because they can feel too aggressive. Red sets off a fear alarm in humans, so steer clear. It’s also important to stick with one color so your resume looks professional.
- Don’t lose sight of readability
Your resume needs to be readable and that is the most important aspect of formatting. Don’t use more than 2 columns and never use white or light-colored text. If you include links to your portfolio and additional websites/apps you’ve worked on (and you should!), ensure that they are clickable, so that your work can be seen.
- Highlight important keywords
Recruiters and hiring managers are spending only seconds looking at your resume. Make their jobs easier by emphasizing the keywords that matter most to them. If you are applying for a position that requires certain skills, knowledge of tools, or programs, ensure that they are easy to pick out. If you can, tailor your resume for each specific job.
- Always add context
A frequent mistake that we see on applicants’ resume is that they don’t provide enough context to their work. When talking about the work you’ve done, make sure to include the important keywords, but also tell the story and purpose of the product, app, or system you worked on.
For a more steps on how to become a product manager by landing a great job, check out our guide.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and young professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, we’ve seen up to a 20% increase in initial screen conversion and up to 80% increase in interview success from our fellows in the program.
If you want to work with any of our advisors 1-on-1 to optimize your product manager resume or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.