After reviewing thousands of resumes at Exponent, we've compiled a definitive checklist for what the best of them have in common. Run through this brief checklist to be sure you're putting your best foot forward.
Notes on the overall design of your resume.
- One-page. This is by far the most common blunder. As a product manager, you need to know how to prioritize, and that, unfortunately for many, includes your resume. Be sure your resume fits into one page and only shows the highlights.
- 11pt+ font and 1 inch Margins. After reading the above checklist item, you may think to yourself - OK, but I can at least reduce the margins, right? Or maybe shrink the font? The answer is no. Above all else, your resume should be easily skimmable and readable. Most recruiters don't have the time to look through dense copy. Think of it like a product: cramming a bunch more features into a dialog box won't be an attractive feature!
- Consistent formatting. Be sure to have consistent styling across your resume. Attention to detail is critical for an effective product and resume. Even slight formatting errors show a lack of care and consideration for crafting your resume.
- No photos. As of this era, photos aren't common on resumes, and they detract from the "meat" of your content. If you really want to visually display something, put it in a hyperlink.
The header is the top section of your resume before you start listing your experience and education.
- Brief. It's simple: resumes don't really need a header longer than three lines. Include your basic contact information and name, but nothing more.
- No personal statement/overview. One of the more common errors is long personal statements or overviews at the top of a resume. Resumes are already snapshots of your experience, and they should be sufficiently clear and bare such that a reviewer can easily glean the important details. By adding a personal statement or executive summary, you're essentially adding a summary on your summary! Focus on keeping the resume crystal clear and targeted to the position, and ditch the executive summary.
Education should be included above or below your experience section, depending on how many years out of college you are. If you're less than five years out, or you recently went to graduate school, include it at the top.
- Don't include high school education. It's been far too long since the high school days. Again, think like a product manager and ruthlessly prioritize.
- GPA not always needed. Unless you're a new graduate, it's likely that your GPA isn't necessary. Yes, it might be hard to part with that 3.9 GPA, but employers stop caring about GPA after a few years from undergrad.
This is the real "meat" of your resume. Here's your chance to demonstrate your product management skills and experience.
- Use bullet points. Don't bother with paragraph style formatting - your reviewer is most likely skimming your resume, not reading it like a book.
- No more than 5 bullet points per section. Don't forget, product managers prioritize!
- Use concrete numbers. Anywhere you can, add concrete numbers to demonstrate your impact at the company. For example, change "worked on growth team" to "grew platform from 200K DAUs to 1M in two years, with a 10% increase in conversion rate."
- Explain lesser-known companies. If you've worked at a company most people haven't heard of, chances are your reviewer hasn't either. Add one line giving a brief elevator pitch for the company, and note major company accomplishments (e.g. funding rounds, number of users, etc.)
- Action words. Start your resume bullet points with action words.
- Include relevant experiences, even if they're not direct. Often, candidates realize they have no directly related product management skills and write up unrelated experiences in their resume. Instead, scan your experience to see all possibly related product management skills. Here's a short list you could start with: engineering, data analysis, user research, design, market research, business development, etc. Read this article if you're non-technical.
This is the last bit on your resume. Add relevant hard skills here.
- Keep it to two lines, max. Keep it simple, just a short list of your hard skills is sufficient here.
- No workshops or courses. It's great that you've taken courses or workshops, but these usually aren't compelling signs of product management experience.
- No basic skills. Your proficiency in Microsoft Word is admirable, but not unique. Only list skills that are unique to you as an applicant.
There you have it! The most common insights from reviewing thousands of product management resumes. Check out my resume when I landed my Google APM offer, or subscribe below for more great product management guides.
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