Ultimate Guide: The PM Resume [Examples + Templates]
Everything you need to know in 2023
Nobody’s going to stay at a job forever. We all have to change jobs eventually.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a VP of Product or an aspiring product manager, writing a good PM resume is an essential career skill.
Your resume is the summary of your career impact. It’s the 1000 words that represent you in the job hunt.
Even after you pass a resume screen, every single interviewer is going to look at it. So it’s hard to think of a more important document in the job search process.
But the Bar Keeps Getting Raised
The thing about resumes is that what worked in 2018-2022 doesn’t work now. And many of you are coming back to the market with your experiences from that period with a resume that doesn’t meet the bar.
There’s two reasons the bar has been raised:
The proliferation of PM prep content means that all applicants have been increasing their bar, so what worked yesterday to stand out is what everyone is doing today
The market remains significantly flooded with middle-career PMs duking it out for the PM jobs, which has made finding a job much harder, and everyone has sought out the proliferation of content to get an edge
Resumes for Today’s Bar
So in today’s piece we’re going to crack open the PM resume with advanced techniques that continue to raise the bar, over 6 sections:
Picking Apart Popular PM Resume Examples
Resume Writing Key First Principles
5 Example Template Resumes
The 4-Steps To Your Resume
Resume Advice to Ignore
Most Common Errors
It’s like 6 posts put together. Most people would charge you $99 for this.
1. Picking Apart Popular PM Resume Examples
To help you find the mistakes in your resume, let’s find the mistakes in several “pretty good” resumes.
We’re going to focus on the advanced tips, not the 101.
To get the most value out of this, note for yourself some ways you think the resume can be improved before looking at my guidance.
This is not a roast - no offense to the creators!
Example 1 - The Early-Career PM
Here’s our first example:
This template is easy on the eyes, but there’s a few things to improve:
Looks too much like a product analyst: Almost everyone comes to PM from another background, so it’s fine to have been a Product Analyst. But this resume over-emphasizes being a product analyst.
“Performed cohort analysis” for his most recent job as the start of a line shows that he is doing analysis instead of leveraging analytics.
And “identifying an opportunity” is not really worth nothing for PM roles. It’s about delivering on identified opportunities. So this bullet digs its hole deeper.
4/7 of the listed skills are analytical skills, showing Abel really leans into that side.
Lacks specificity: Some of the bullet points in this resume are not unique or specific enough to Abel. Let’s highlight a few.
Instead of naming products, saying things like “a new B2C SaaS product.” It would be better to say “new B2C SaaS Product <Name>. This” makes it harder for readers to research or recognize the product.
The first bullet point at Aquent is so generic it could even be used in a PM job description: “Managed cross-functional team …. oversaw product development.” There’s no description as a PM what he did.
Doesn’t explain lesser known companies: Nobody knows Learning Without Tears or Aquent. So it’s advisable to use the whitespace on those lines to explain them. Something like.
Learning Without Tears | 180+ person Edtech company, >$25M revenue
Aquent | 3,300+ person Recruiting Tech company
All three of these are common mistakes that I see regularly on PM interviews. You need to look like a PM, be specific, and help people understand the companies you worked at.
Example 2 - The Job Switcher
Let’s move onto the second example:
This is the standard resume format that most people use and it works very well. It’s a canvas for content, and while the content here is good, it could be better:
Focus on costs: Metrics for metrics sake aren’t a good thing, and the one’s this PM chose are bizarre.
PMs are generally driving up growth and increasing metrics, so it’s odd to see so many cost-related metrics
The most recent job has one bullet point related to cost, and the second job has two points where it focuses on cost
You should only have this focus on cost if you are interviewing for a PM that is looking for the ability to reduce costs
Very focused on output metrics: It’s good to include output metrics, but how did you get there, via the product, is even more important.
In addition to being focused on costs, it also makes a number of claims about sales, like certain amounts of revenue
These amounts of revenue could be totally meaningless if they are a small percentage, or they could be huge - neither is
It’s unclear how the additional sales came about from leading additional testers. It would be better to include a product-level input metric so the tea understands how you can move metrics
Lots of unnecessary vague words: There’s a lot of what qualifies as essentially “filler” content here.
There’s lots of unnecessary words like “by creating a plan” in the second bullet of the first job, which could just be: “by merging” or “leading the merge.”
The principle for resumes should be compression, so you can add more relevant content and remove anything fluffy
Example 3 - The Product Leader
This is a variation of the other resume template with a top bar, and it’s also easy on the eyes.
Here’s where it falls short:
Focus on the cross-functional teams: as a leader, your influence sphere is best quantified via PM reporting.
All PMs have to lead cross-functional teams. So including statements like “cross-functional teams of up to 40 members” isn’t really impressive.
What’s more relevant is how many folks directly reported to you, and from what departments
Resume readers generally don’t like misdirection. Instead, they prefer straightforward resumes
Not building a through-line & narrative: you need to have a brand at this level.
At the leadership level, you can’t just be a PM that has worn a bunch of hats. You need to have an identity of what you do and how you help teams. This person starts that off by branding themselves as focused on “enterprise SaaS solutions" but that’s more of a category in the tech industry than it is a type of product management
Even if we evaluate that category, they don’t really connect back Invenergy and Cisco to Enterprise SaaS. On face, they sound like energy and networking companies, so it isn’t even a credible through-line
What you’ll see with many people at this is level is they have a pointy profile - they have experience in “trust & safety” or “core HR tech” or “gaming monetization.” You should write up about your skills in such a through-line
Too much focus on vacuous skills: You need to use every square centimeter to drive home a point.
This product leader has decided words like “product lifecycle management, cross-functional team leadership, effective communication” would be good to put at the top of their resume 🤯
I use the word vacuous, because that’s what you should consider adverbs in resume. Statements like “highly accomplished leader” are much better replaced with “leader.” Let your accomplishments do the talking
People read in F patterns from top left down. You need to have all the important information in the top left of your F:
These are 9 of the most common mistakes that PMs tend to make on their resumes at all levels:
Theme 1: Product Specificity
You don’t look the part of the role: make sure you don’t add things that distract from the main picture
You don’t include enough product input metrics: you should illustrate how the features you had made an impact to output metrics via input metrics
You spend space on the size of the team you influenced: all PMs have to influence large teams, so the more important thing is who you managed in PM
Theme 2: Vagueness
You speak too generally: there’s no reason to speak from the 30,000 foot view on a PM resume
You use vague words: in an effort to summarize, we often mask details but there’s no space for useless words
You include unnecessary words: compression is the number one goal for our resumes: value per word should be the mantra
Theme 3: Organized for Impact
You focus on irrelevant metrics: as PMs we should we can move the metrics relevant to the job, to a large degree
You don’t have a clear identity: having some sense of a personal brand and a through-line in your narrative is crucial
You don’t order your information for impact: the top left of your resume has to be the best you have
Consider these the common tripwires that prevent resumes going from good to great.
So now that we’ve helped you understand what types of mistakes are prevalent with common resume information that’s outdated, let’s move on to making your resume that will be competitive in 2023.
2. Resume Writing Key First Principles
There are four core pillars that should be the base that your resume rest on:
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