5 tips for making your product management resume stand out

Someone recently contacted me asking for help reviewing their product management resume. Given there’s a fair number of people looking for new product roles currently, I thought I’d share with you what I shared with them.

Here are my five tips:

Focus on result and impact, with quantities

The most important thing to include in a PM resume is what you and your team delivered and what impact it had.

Spending ink describing what you did in your PM job isn’t as helpful as describing what all that work led to.

When describing impact, use numbers. A quantity is a more powerful way to communicate results and impact than a general statement.

Good: Delivered {feature} with {X engineers} in {Y weeks} that increased {metric} by {amount}.

Not so good: Managed the team backlog and bug list to deliver a feature customers asked for the most.

Be clear and concise

Fewer words are usually better. Take time to edit out unnecessary details that distract.

Exclude roles that are irrelevant to the role you’re applying to. Your summer job at Steak & Shake isn’t relevant.

You don’t have to keep your resume to a page, especially if you’ve had lots of roles or been working for decades. Try to not exceed two.

Include side projects if you’re starting out

If you’re light on work experience, add in side projects you’re proud of. To keep things concise, link out to the project or a page that describes it.

Work before education

Put your work experience first and summarize your education in one or two bullets at the end. Even if you’re still in college, prioritize your prior internships, school projects, and side projects.

Check spelling and grammar

Typos and comma splices can distract from an otherwise impressive resume. Product management requires solid communication and an attention to detail; these mistakes can imply you’re not great at either.

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Those are my tips, but I know there are more. What do you look for in a great product management resume?


The difference between junior and senior product managers

People on my team and those I mentor often ask me what the difference is between junior versus senior product managers.

I think it revolves around two things: handling ambiguity, and dealing with scope.


A junior PM works on an individual feature. A senior PM works on a feature area, which involves multiple features. A principal / lead PM works on an entire product comprised of multiple feature areas, or even a suite of products.


A junior PM can be given a clear problem and clear solution and execute it well. It doesn’t mean the work is easy, but it’s clear.

A senior PM can be given a clear problem with an _unclear_ solution. Here, the ambiguity is in figuring out the right solution and why it’s the right solution before executing it well.

A principal / lead PM can be given an unclear problem _and_ an unclear solution. They first need to figure out which problem is the right one to solve before figuring out which is the right solution and why, before executing it well.

When you combine the two, you get a sense of the differences between levels. On the one end we have junior PMs who work on clear problems/solutions on one or more individual features. On the other we have principal / lead PMs who can define product strategies and steer an entire product towards the right outcomes for both customers and the business.

There are surely other ways to define the roles, but I’ve found scope and ambiguity to be the two most consistent ways across companies and industries.

What Winston Churchill said about product launches

Did you know Winston Churchill was a closet product manager when it came to big product launches He’s quoted as saying:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Ok, I lied. 😉 While he was a famous leader, he wasn’t a PM as far as I know. But I did use his quote above in a team all-hands last week. Why? To give people some perspective. 

You see, the team is working on a big product launch that’s just around the corner. And product launches are hard! They take a lot of energy. Finishing features, fixing bugs, making hard cuts, stabilizing, perf testing, marketing, PR… 

And when a launch happens, it can feel exhilarating! 🚀 Finally, the world can use what the team worked so hard on! Tweets, press releases, and news articles galore!

But as Churchill states, that’s just the end of the beginning. After you launch a product you can finally:

  1. Get usage data
  2. Run A/B tests
  3. Get feedback from a much wider audience
  4. Build those fast follows you had to cut for launch
  5. Embark on a longer-term product strategy

And more…

A launch is a great milestone for a team and a product, but it’s just the end of the beginning. After launch, the real work begins. 💪 

Prioritize your time with the Eisenhower matrix

A framework I keep coming back to for prioritizing my time as a product manager is the Eisenhower matrix for prioritizing one’s work.

The framework is simple. There are two dimensions to the work on your plate: urgency and importance. And there are two values for each dimension: urgent and not, important and not.

As tasks are added to your plate, or as you get asked to do things by others, consider where they fall in the matrix.

Then, you can take action based on what cell they are in.

– Important + urgent tasks need to be done now. Go do them!
– Important + not urgent tasks need to be done, but not right now. Schedule a time to do them!
– Urgent but not important tasks aren’t important to you but are important to someone else. Find the right person who can help, or give out the information that someone can use to address the task on their own.
– Finally, don’t do things that are neither important nor urgent.

I’ve seen people spend a lot of time on tasks that aren’t important or aren’t urgent, to the detriment of their products.

It feels good to turn the crank and get stuff done, but make sure you’re focused on the right things first!

The benefits of spreading positivity

I received a small, visual reminder to spread hope, love, and positivity in 2022 from my local coffee shop this morning, in the form of this decoration on my drink.


Does the above sound like just a cheese-ball cliché sentiment? Maybe. But this behavior has an impact.

First, simply the act of giving thanks can make you happier.

When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude…participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores…greater than that from any other intervention…


Next, positive thoughts rewire your brain to see more possibilities in life and can drive skill-building because you become more outgoing and try more things.

Fredrickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory because positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.


And, volunteering is good for the mind and body.

By spending time in service to others, volunteers report feeling a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect.


These are some of the reasons I’m committing some of my time in 2022 to give back to the product management community. I will do so by creating and sharing content to help others, especially those early in their careers or trying to get into the discipline.

But regardless of what you do or how you do it, I hope you’re able to spread some positive energy this year. Chances are, it won’t just benefit those around you. It will also benefit you.

And yes, this post is a way for me to spread positivity. I feel better already! 😉

Happy 2022!