Crafting a product manager resume for the first time might seem daunting: product management is, after all, a relatively new field of work, its rules are written and rewritten all the time and while there is no lack of job posts, candidates are also in abundance.
Regardless of whether you happen to be fairly experienced in resume writing or find yourself in this position for the very first time, putting together a product manager resume is most definitely a project worth the time and the effort.
Believe it or not, it’s even possible to apply product management concepts to decide what to include and what to leave out of your resume.
If you’d like to skip ahead to a section, just use the clickable menu:
- What’s the main purpose of your product manager resume?
- What to include in your product manager resume
- How to make your product manager resume stand out
- Highlighting your product manager skills
- How to write a product manager resume: Step-by-step guide
- Where to find great product manager resume templates
- Key takeaways and next steps
1. What’s the main purpose of your product manager resume?
Before digging into any details, it’s crucial to “start with the why”, as product managers themselves would say.
In this case, this is your resume, and you are both its Chief Product Officer and CEO.
You want your resume to produce results, to be an instrument towards success. To that end, it’s crucial that you kickstart the resume writing process by asking yourself: how will I determine whether my CV has been successful or not?
As it’s the case in the daily life of any PM, it’s not possible to focus and reach all goals at the same time: prioritization is key. The same principle applies to your resume:
- Do you want to land your first product management role?
- Are you looking for a promotion?
- Do you want to test the waters and build a network before you start applying to product management jobs?
Whatever the answer might be at any given moment in time, it will help you significantly in tailoring your product manager resume.
The second point to define and clarify upfront is: how will you measure your success? Or, to borrow another term from product management, what are your metrics?
One example would be:
I will be applying to X product management positions within the next 3 months and expect 30% of them to call me for a first interview.
2. What to include in your product manager resume
Once you look back on the previous section and reflect, another set of questions will arise:
- How should you position your resume?
- What should you highlight, what should you definitely include?
- What’s best left out?
The answer to all of these questions will likely vary as time goes by and you progress in your product management career.
Just to give an example, any previous experience or education you might have in leadership and strategy becomes particularly relevant if you intend to apply for positions such a Head of Product, VP of Product, or CPO.
For more entry-level positions in product, such skills might be given less weight compared to the ability to work across development, design and other stakeholders.
However, it’s still safe to say that a product manager resume will still be expected to include the following:
- Education (may include both degrees and other certifications)
- Work experience (any relevant experience you may have. It does not have to include the words “product manager”)
- Skills (both hard and soft skills, as long as they are relevant)
- Additional relevant experience (do you have any relevant volunteering or mentoring experience, for instance?)
One very useful concept to keep in mind, particularly when crafting an entry-level product manager resume, is transferable skills.
Typically, product managers come from all walks of life and at some point in their career or studies, decide to make a move into product.
This is only possible because unlike what happens with very strict career paths, the threshold for breaking into product management is still low—there’s no specific test or “bar exam” that candidates need to pass.
However, you do need to demonstrate potential and ability to do the job, which is where your resume can be of great help in building a narrative.
3. How to make your product manager resume stand out
If there was only one thing that you could change in your product manager resume to make it stand out from the crowd, it would be showcasing a history of results.
Results in the product world can come in many different shapes and forms: leading teams, shipping features, establishing product operations, being the glue that ties together the different stakeholders.
The one thing these examples have in common is that they demonstrate very clearly the positive impact of your actions towards the growth of a product and, therefore, of business success. You do not need to have had a formal first experience with a “Product Manager” title to be able to display that on your resume!
Think back to previous work experience, experience working in teams during your studies, or even any extracurricular activities you might have taken part in. What role did you play? What were the characteristics required to play that role? More likely than not, those skills will be transferable to your resume.
Now imagine that you need your resume to help you cross a chasm between two careers that seem quite unconnected: hospitality and tech. One very nice way to help any previous experience to work in your favor is to present it as industry knowledge, or subject matter expertise.
Here’s an example: You’re a former flight assistant who decides to apply to a product manager position at a tech travel company like Skyscanner or Momondo.
You know airplanes, airports, and passengers. That’s a big differentiation point that most definitely deserves a place in your product manager resume.
How do you increase its impact? Make it quantifiable and easy to understand:
“I led an onboard team of 10 crew members on more than 700 flights with an average of 222 passengers on board.”
4. Highlighting your product manager skills
It’s relatively common to have two separate, very brief sections in a product manager’s resume highlighting both hard- and soft skills.
Regardless of which template you end up using, it’s useful to regard these as an ever-evolving blueprint, and to be prepared to update them on a fairly regular basis.
Why? Because you’ll necessarily always be picking up new skills, because keywords and buzzwords also change, and because you’ll want to highlight different skillsets according to the position you are aiming for or applying to.
Remember that a few decades ago being proficient in Microsoft Word might still make a candidate stand out from the crowd!
So, let’s briefly go over some hard and soft skills to highlight when composing your resume.
Product manager hard skills
Skills to include here might be directly or indirectly connected to your educational background or work experience.
For example: if you’ve previously learned any programming languages, this would be the place to display them.
By the same token, any useful product management tools you might have used in the past can also be included here (MS Word and similar digital literacy tools will just take up room without adding much value, so they are best skipped).
Going back to the concept of a resume blueprint, you might want to keep an updated list of all of your hard skills, which you’ll then trim down or carefully select when submitting applications.
Why? There are quite a few different flavors of product manager, with different focus areas.
Don’t forget your soft skills!
Possibly one of the trickiest parts of any resume is being able to accurately describe soft skills.
Having an accurate image of your professional persona does not necessarily come easily to anyone, especially at the start of one’s career, or if you are transitioning into product management from a different career.
It might help to think about the things that anyone in a Product Management role is required to do and see how you might fit.
For instance, it’s very safe to assume that stakeholder management is part and parcel of any product manager’s working day. So the questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- Am I an extrovert or an introvert?
- What tends to be my communication style in the workplace?
- Do I tend to cope with stress by taking a step back or through creativity?
The answer to these questions might just show up on the Soft Skills section of your resume as: Diplomatic, Flexible, Manages stress well.
5. How to write a product manager resume: Step-by-step guide
Step 1: Define a purpose, set metrics.
Step 2: Fill out the mandatory sections: education, experience, skills.
Step 3: Trim it down, refocus it. It should be an absolute maximum of two pages long.
Step 4: Find a template. Having a layout which is easy to read and skim is key, but so is the content that you’ve chosen to include in your resume. You’ll find examples of these in the next section. Carry out another round of trimming if required.
Step 5: Iterate! You started out this exercise with a goal. Hopefully, you’ve also figured out how to measure that goal. But it’s seldom the case that goals are attained on a first attempt (this is also the life of a PM!), so if your resume does not produce the results you were hoping for, how would you improve it?
6. Where to find great product manager resume templates
Very simply: learn from the best. LinkedIn is the largest network of professionals, and plenty of people working in product have taken the time to fill out a resume there. It’s a true goldmine of inspiration and ideas, which might serve you as well or even better than any specific template.
Also, as a PM, in addition to your product manager resume, it’s expected that you’ll have an updated LinkedIn profile at all times, so it doesn’t hurt to think on how you’ll translate a two-page CV into a LinkedIn resume.
The other place you might consider exploring is the template section of Microsoft Word. This particular piece of advice may seem counterintuitive, but at the end of the day, a product manager resume is first and foremost, a resume. In a world of Canva CVs, these can stand out.
MS Word contains several appropriate layouts, some of them even by award-winning design agency Moo.
Having said that, if you find yourself stuck, here is another short list of templates you can adapt and use. Notice that the resume changes according both to the core focus of the role (technical, non-technical), as well as the role seniority.
Resume.io has done a good job of not only providing a fillable template to prospective PMs, but also summing up some of the pitfalls which any applicant would be wise to avoid (such as forgetting to tweak their resume for the keywords mentioned in each specific job description).
Here you can see the main takeaways from a product manager/talent lead. Jamie does a very good job in being the voice of the recruiter.
In most hiring processes, there is at least one round with someone like him, so it’s key to keep in mind what managers like him might be looking for.
7. Key takeaways and next steps
Putting together a product manager resume for the first time is an exciting starting point, regardless of where you are currently at in your career.
Take the time to think about which skills and traits you would like to highlight. And be ready to try out different versions of it!
The next step in landing your next PM role: the product manager interview.
Still need some more reading before getting started? Here are some articles on the career and the skills PMs need in order to thrive: