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There comes a time in every professional’s career journey when it becomes apparent that a change is necessary. While shifting gears feels natural to some, many others haven’t switched jobs in years. Maybe you’re comfortable at your current longstanding position but earn to challenge yourself at a new company. Suppose the fear of entering the unknown waters of job hunting is holding you back from kicking your career into high gear. In that case, it’s time you took control of the sails and steered yourself in the necessary direction to achieve your wildest professional aspirations.
In order to get through the door at top companies, you must have a powerful résumé to highlight all of your accomplishments. Hiring managers at large corporations scan hundreds of résumés daily, and relying on the dated one you have stored on your computer won't cut it. So how exactly can you master the art of the résumé by writing one for yourself that acts as a magnet, pulling you towards new opportunities?
Find out what are the most necessary steps to be prominent and distinctive. Here's what you'll need to know about resume writing to make sure you're able to represent yourself properly.
Let's begin with a video,
A resume is an employer’s first glimpse of a candidate and sets the tone for subsequent steps of the hiring process. It is a valuable tool for your job search as it allows you to highlight your best skills and qualities and give employers a deeper understanding of your strengths and experiences. Resumes influence hiring decisions and are essential in landing your first interview.
Watch this video to learn why a resume is crucial and what you can do if you don’t have one. Considering the competitive job market today, especially for Product Management roles, it may be wise to have a resume ready if you want to make a career move.
Writing an effective resume is a skill that most professionals struggle with. Like interviewing, you (hopefully) don’t get a lot of practice—and the practice you do get is spread out over many years. If you’ve been working in your current role for a while, it’s likely been years since you’ve had to craft a compelling resume or ace a first-round interview.
I spend a lot of time coaching job seekers to improve their resumes. Many of these folks are passive candidates—they’re pretty happy in their current positions but are interested in exploring the right opportunity—which means they don’t have a polished resume handy.
Here is the resume writing advice I find myself giving most often:
- Understand your audience — The Mindset for Effective Resume Writing
- Formatting Matters — Keep it clean and simple
- Content is King — Common Mistakes to Avoid
- From Top to Bottom — Tips for a Better Resume
Understand Your Audience — The Mindset for Effective Resume Writing
The sole purpose of your resume is to compel a very busy reader to sort you into a short pile of candidates to contact for a phone screen or first interview. That’s it. Once you end up in the “to call” pile, your resume has served its purpose. To write an effective resume that serves this purpose, you have to understand the audience you’re writing to. They are likely an extremely busy professional—which means they’re scanning your resume.
The reader of your resume will generally fit one of three profiles: the CEO/Founder of a startup, the C-level executive who owns the function you’re applying to, or a recruiter (could be an internal or third party). Each of these audiences has competing interests and mandates—so you likely only have a few minutes (maximum) to get their attention. Fortunately, writing a great resume will make you stand out from the crowd, as most applicants make some common (and avoidable) mistakes.
You also can’t assume that the person reading your resume fully understands the function you’re applying for, so it’s imperative that you make it as easy as possible for the reader to know what you do and how you’ve achieved success in your role, to get sorted into the “call this person immediately” pile.
You’ll increase your chances of success if you write your resume with the following in mind:
- Your resume will be scanned, not read—rely on bullet points, not paragraphs, to get your experience across.
- Write for your audience—very busy professionals who may or may not fully understand the function you’re applying for.
- You need to maximize your limited space and time—each word needs to contribute to the goal of highlighting your accomplishments and experience.
- The number one mistake that people make is to regurgitate their job descriptions. Focus on accomplishment-oriented language to set yourself apart from all the other candidates making this mistake.
- Your only objective with your resume is to get sorted into the “to-call” pile. That’s it. You’re not writing out your life story. You’re not repeating the bullet points from your job description. You’re not listing every single task you’ve ever completed. You want your reader to stop what they’re doing and pick up the phone to call you.
Formatting Matters — Keep it Clean and Simple
You might believe that if your content is excellent, the formatting doesn’t matter—but you would be wrong. Resumes are scanned—so your design needs to be clean and simple, take advantage of the places our eyes naturally fall, and highlight the most critical accomplishments from your career.
Here are my rules for formatting a resume appropriately:
- Avoid Unnecessary Design Elements
I’ve noticed a trend in the way candidates format resumes. Candidates who are insecure in their accomplishments try to overcorrect with unnecessary design elements. They use lots of different fonts, add in graphics, toss around bold and italics with little rhyme or reason, or add in big margins so that white space takes up the bulk of the page. On the other hand, candidates who are confident and experienced often keep it clean and simple.
Your resume is not the place to try to reinvent the wheel. Use one font throughout. Make sure that your spacing is consistent. Use the default margins on your document. Use bullet points (not paragraphs) to describe your accomplishments—and let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
- Keep it Short, and Use your Real Estate
As a general rule of thumb, a resume should be two pages. If you’ve been in business for 20-30 years, you may be able to get away with three pages. And if you’re a fresh graduate, 1 page might do it. You want to ensure that you’re using each page in its entirety—not using wide margins to push content down the page. But be careful that you don’t swing too far the other way—if you’re using a tiny font with no space between lines, your resume will look overstuffed (not to mention that it will make your resume hard to scan—have I mentioned already that your resume would be scanned? Seriously if you take one thing away from this post, that should be it).
Think about where your reader's eye will naturally fall—the top of your first page is your most valuable real estate. Don’t waste it with a list of the types of software you’re proficient in or with a list of your “soft skills” (more on that below).
- Follow the ABCs — Always Be Consistent
Keep your formatting clean and consistent so that you don’t distract the reader. That means uniform capitalization of your titles and employer names, bullet points all end with either a period or not, and your spacing is consistent all the way through. Proofread the whole thing as carefully as possible (or better yet, ask someone else to proofread it for you).
Remember that many readers will print off your resume—so do a test print. Is it legible? Where does your eye fall? Do those spots contain the most pertinent information? Squint a little and scan the entire document—is all of your spacing consistent? Inconsistencies won’t make or break your resume on their own—but for time-starved readers, they can be distracting—and you want your reader focused on what you bring to the role.
- Use appropriate File Formats and Names
Send either a PDF or Word Document. Do not send a Pages document (sorry, Mac users—not all computers can open them), a Google Document, or any other file format.
Do not presume that your LinkedIn profile or personal website will be a substitute for a resume. Remember that your audience is likely reviewing a stack of resumes at one time—they need to be able to compare documents in the same formats. You'll be interrupting their process if you send them to an online profile.
Name the file to include your full name. Please, on behalf of recruiters everywhere, do not name your file “Resume.doc” or “2019Resume.pdf.” Your resume will get lost in a downloads folder somewhere, never to be seen again.
Content is King — Common Mistakes to Avoid
Now that we’ve covered the basics of aesthetics, formatting, and using space effectively, we can finally turn to the content of your resume. I see several mistakes that I see candidates make over and over again. If you recognize your resume, don’t panic! They are prevalent mistakes. By reading this article and then revising it to avoid them, you’ll increase your chances of landing that first interview.
- Don’t Fill up Space with Subjective Statements
Anyone can say they work well in collaborative cross-functional teams, have exceptional written and verbal communication skills, or are an effective and fair leader. But that’s the problem—anyone can say those things, which means they don’t mean anything. Instead, they take up valuable space on your resume.
Look at your resume and cut anything that can’t be backed up with numbers or achievements. If you successfully launched seven new features in your product while working with Design and Engineering, then it can be assumed that you function well in collaborative cross-functional teams. If you beat your quota for the past six quarters selling complex software to enterprise clients, I know that you probably have exceptional verbal and written communication skills.
Of course, you’ll see a lot of job descriptions that ask for candidates with “soft skills”—like excellent communication, a track record of collaboration, or leading with emotional intelligence. Those skills are certainly necessary for most roles! But don’t waste your most valuable real estate on subjective statements.
- Don’t Restate your Job Description
The most common mistake that candidates make is to restate their job description without including any context about the results they’ve achieved.
When reading through your bullet points, ask yourself: “does this statement highlight what makes me the best candidate for the role? Or does this describe the tasks that anyone with my title would perform?”
Don’t say: I am responsible for working with a cross-functional team.
Instead, say: Collaborated with three distributed engineering teams (Bangalore, Krakau, and Columbia) to release product in 2-week sprints.
Don’t say: Consistently achieved annual quota.
Instead, say: On track to hit 125% of a $6 million quota in 2019. Achieved 135% of a $5 million allocation in 2018, President’s Club Winner. Reached 115% of a $4 million quota in 2017.
Don’t say: Accountable for ensuring that assigned clients realize a return on their investment in our product.
Instead, say: Functioned as a trusted strategic and tactical advisor on the TD Account, which resulted in a 45% decrease in processing time within eight weeks.
If you have numbers, use them. If you have client names that you can drop, drop them. The reader of your resume wants to hire someone who cares enough about their work to brag a little. “My company hired me for X, and I delivered X + Z.”
- Don’t Assume Your Reader Knows the Context
Unless your resume is made up exclusively of recognizable employers—think Apple, Google, Shopify, etc.—it’s helpful to include some context about what the organization does. Essentially, you want to ensure that the reader doesn’t have to Google every place you’ve worked to get a sense of whether or not your experience is relevant.
Signal the scope of the organization and your role to your reader by including details that help them understand the context. Add in words that indicate what kind of clients you worked with, your team size and structure, and the overall stage of the company (early startup, Series B funded, recently acquired, etc.).
You can also include a very brief description of the company before you get into the bullet points that list your accomplishments. Keep it short and sweet: i.e., “B2B SaaS platform providing eCommerce solutions to Enterprise clients.”
From Top to Bottom—Tips for a Better Resume
Now that you understand your reader, have a clean and consistent format and have crafted compelling and context-rich content, take one more pass through your resume from top to bottom. These tips will help ensure that you’ve covered everything you need, left out all the fluffy extra (i.e., unnecessary) stuff, and followed modern resume writing conventions.
- Modern resumes no longer include a mailing address. Your header should include your name, email address, and phone number. Keep it short and straightforward.
- Get to your professional experience as quickly as possible. Between your header and experience section, include a (very) brief, objective statement. Cut out the “skills overview” or the long-winded subjective summary of your experience. Write something like: “Seeking the opportunity to drive product innovation for a startup in Toronto in the health-tech space.” And then get to the good stuff.
- Use the title “Professional Experience” or “Employment History.” Do not call this section “Work.” We’re in business—this is about your career.
- The header for each employer should include the name of the company, your title, and the dates you worked there. You don’t need to have the location if all of your experience is in the same city (if you’re writing “Toronto” under every employer, that’s wasted space that you can use for something else). Keep all of this information tight to the left margin.
If you’ve worked for companies that aren’t widely recognizable, it can be helpful to include a (very) brief statement about what they do.
- Write your bullet points. This is the essential part of the resume, so take your time and think them through carefully. Use accomplishment-oriented language that helps your reader understand the scope of your role. For example, you could write that you achieved 120% of the quota in 2018. That’s a good start, but the reader doesn’t know your quota or who you are selling to. You could have had a $1000 quota, selling door-to-door. Instead, write something like “Achieved 120% of a $4 million quota selling to Enterprise clients in the healthcare vertical in Ontario.” This shows off your accomplishments and gives the reader context.
- List your professional experience in reverse chronological order—current/most recent employer first, then work backward through your experience. Curate the information you provide carefully—sometimes less is more. Focus on giving details about the most relevant employment experiences. As you go back in time, if your experience is less relevant, it’s okay to leave some of it out or include it as just a heading with the employer, your title, and dates. Once you get ten years into your career, your first job out of college probably won’t be a compelling reason for a reader to call you.
- Include your education and any relevant professional development. The name of the school and the title of your degree is all you need here. List them here if you have acquired additional certifications or professional designations relevant to the role. In general, you can leave the year you graduated off the resume—unless the position requires an up-to-date accreditation, including the last time you renewed it. You can also list volunteer experience if it shows responsibility, leadership, or other relevant qualities.
Some people like to end with a section on hobbies and interests. If you have the space for it and feel strongly about including some personal details, it won’t hurt (but it’s not likely to help much, either). If you have this, it should go to the very end.
Lastly, wrap with a statement, “Outstanding references available upon request.” Please do not include your references on the resume itself.
Writing an effective resume is hard, and many experienced professionals need help to distill their accomplishments into a few pages. If you’re lucky, it’s also an exercise you don’t have to do often. My tips will help you portray your professional experience in a polished, compelling format, which will help you achieve your goal of getting a call for that first interview.
And one last note—one of the best things you can do for yourself and your career is to keep track of your accomplishments and responsibilities on an ongoing basis. Consider this your friendly nudge to set a quarterly reminder to review your accomplishments. Those metrics will serve you well when it’s time for a performance review, when you’re justifying your budget, or when the time comes to polish up your resume. You never know when a recruiter will call you with a dream opportunity, and it’s best to be ready.
If you haven't reworked your resume in a while, it can be difficult to remember where to start. While many of the principles remain the same, there are some new changes you should be aware of.
Craft a Powerful Opening Statement
Online professional networks such as LinkedIn include a “summary” platform use provides hiring managers with the reader's digest highlight reel version of their resumes. While many opt to forgo using this feature for all its worth, its top-of-the-page prime location makes it the perfect place to include a powerful opening statement that touches on everything that employers need to know about you as a worker. However, LinkedIn isn’t the only resume platform where you can include this striking feature – include the personal statement on your actual resume too.
Focus on your Story
In order to effectively present your professional journey to date, compelling storytelling is crucial. It’s imperative that you construct your resume so that it tells the linear story of your career. Within that, touch on your previous work experience, career-related challenges that you overcame, and what value you brought to your old company. Furthermore, many highly skilled resume writers excellently display actual statistics of how their prior workplace efforts propelled their previous company to greatness. In doing so, they provide hiring managers with specific figures that show for themselves the quality of their skills, and thus simplify their eventual interview process.
Avoid these Common Mistakes
In addition to spelling and grammatical errors, which you should scan for profusely, there are many other subtle mistakes that job seekers commonly make when writing their resumes, such as:
- Unrelated work history: If you’re applying for a software engineer position at an elite tech company, it only seems obvious that you need not include information about your tenure working at a soft serve ice cream parlor. However, while this example may be extreme, to this day multitudes of job seekers choose to include unrelated work experience on their resume. A general rule of thumb is to forgo mentioning any job that does not highlight your skills that could be harnessed in the position you are applying for.
- Unrelated Private Information: If it is illegal for an employer to ask you about your relationship-status, age, sexual orientation, and religion, why include it on your resume? Stick to your professional story, and save your personal one for those you come home to after work.
- Social Media Links: Your new boss likely does not care to look at your Instagram feed, despite how professional you have crafted it to be. However, LinkedIn is the exception to this rule, as it is a widely respected networking platform.
- Tacky Fonts: You want your resume to be easy to read, right? Then avoid using elaborate font styles. While the business world is often innovative and fun, no hiring manager wants to try to decode the font on your resume. Sticking to Times New Roman is your best bet.
- References: It is simply a waste of resume real estate to give a portion of space to the words “references available upon request.” If you are a legitimate candidate, your employer will likely deduce that you have the references to back up your claims and later ask for them if necessary.
Whether you're looking to update your resume or restart from scratch, use our Resume 101 infographic to help guide you through the process:
Download our Guide
For product professionals seeking to work for the most sought-after organizations in the tech industry, you must know how to write a resume that will catch a hiring manager’s attention. To do this, you must start thinking of your resume as a product.
As you watch this video, you’ll discover how thinking of your resume as a product is essential to your job search success. You’ll also learn the two most important questions your resume should answer to ensure you move forward to the next step.
Product professionals need to start applying what they do for a living towards crafting their resumes, as technically; your resume will be the first time a hiring stakeholder sees a product you’ve created.
Stay tuned for the next part of our resume guide series by subscribing to our page today!
With this video, we continue our resume guide series, encouraging you to reimagine your resumes and not just rely on templates.
It may be easier and faster to use templates than to make a resume from scratch, but most templates out there, whether paid or free, are not necessarily designed for product people. Most of the time, templates are loaded with fillers you don’t want on your resume.
As a Product Manager, you must be intentional about what you write on your resume and focus on telling your product story to grab the attention of the hiring manager who scans your resume.
Learn why templates are not suitable for a Product Manager like you and get tips on how you can enhance your resume with this video! It’s time you put the same high standard on your resume as you would a product you are creating.
A common question we hear from the candidates we interact with is: How many pages should my resume have?
If you’ve been researching resume best practices, you may have found that one-page resumes are recommended. There are certainly benefits to having a concise, single-page overview but determining how long it should last depends on several factors.
Resumes must effectively market you, which may be a lot to ask of one or two pages. In this video, our Product Practice Lead, Heidi Ram, provides tips on effectively communicating the story on your resume. She explains when a 1-page or 2-page makes the most sense, based on your experience and achievements.
It is a competitive market for Product Managers, so follow these tips to ensure you get ahead of the competition and differentiate yourself from the crowd.
When it comes to resumes, it’s understandable that some candidates wonder if including a headshot photo will increase their chances of getting noticed and hired. While there isn’t a universal rule around whether a photograph should go on a resume, the following video will provide you with a few guidelines to help you understand when and where a photo is appropriate.
Writing an effective resume for today’s job market has so many nuances that it’s difficult for anyone to keep track of them all. To learn more about resume tips and advice, subscribe to our medium page today!
Continuing our conversation about Product resumes, we often get asked how to list education on a resume. Learning how to effectively list your education on your resume will increase your chances of making an excellent first impression on hiring managers.
In this video, Heidi Ram, our Product Practice Lead, shares her advice on placing education on your resume depending on your experience level. Whether you are a working professional or a fresh graduate, these tips will help you create a winning resume.
To see previous tips from our resume video series, visit our medium page and make sure to hit follow to stay up-to-date on the latest posts!
Writing a resume can be challenging. There is a lot of time spent trying to think of points that will look good to hiring managers, so you get called back for an interview. And for some, it can be difficult to summarize your achievements, skills, and statistics into words. So the question now is: How do you describe your experiences at a job in a way that is going to get the employer’s attention?
As we continue to reimagine your Product resume, we want to emphasize how important the format is in your resume’s effectiveness. In this video, we explain why it’s better to use bullet points than paragraphs in your resume to convey your product story. Watch as our Product Recruiter, Heidi Ram provides tips for using bullet points effectively on your resume.
If you are looking for more resume tips and advice, check out our medium page to see our previous resume tips!
When applying for a job, you may wonder if a cover letter is needed since in some cases, job postings do not require one. So, the question is: Do I need to write one? Will it improve my chances of getting noticed?
It can be challenging and time-consuming to compose a lot of cover letters during a job search. In this video, we will set the record straight and discuss whether cover letters are necessary.
Our seasoned Product Recruiter, Heidi Ram will answer your questions about when it’s appropriate to include a cover letter, as well as some tips for composing a cover letter to increase your chances of landing the job. Additionally, you will learn how working with Recruiters can benefit your candidacy, especially if you don’t like writing cover letters.
3 Ways To Make Your Resume Stand Out
A resume is your ambassador advocating your potential and skills to an employer. Crafting an appealing resume can be tricky and challenging. It needs to convey your relevant skills, qualifications, and experience. Illustrating this professionally takes both effort and time.
Your resume needs to be engaging enough to stand out against many resumes. The beautifully crafted words should be able to catch the eye of a Recruiter or hiring manager who goes through hundreds of resumes. You must showcase yourself in the best light possible and break through the clutter.
So how do you create a standalone work of art that grabs the reader’s attention and successfully expresses your worth? These tips can help propel you in the right direction.
Hiring Managers Don’t Read, They Scan!
We live in a fast-paced world where everything happens at an increased speed. On average, hiring managers and recruiters spend less than six seconds scanning your resume.
This means bullet points are your new best friend! Doing so will not only help you highlight relevant data but will also provide structure to your resume. Bullet points improve your resume by highlighting your strengths, skills, and qualifications.
- It can help get your point across more succinctly.
- An efficient bulleted point is about a line or two that is easy to scan by the reader.
- Using bullet points will transform your resume making it look more concise.
- It will help you tell your story by focusing the reader’s attention on relevant sections like your skills and strengths.
Show Your Numbers
Some might think boasting about your accomplishments will negatively impact your chances; however, the more you communicate, the more likely you will hear back. Specifying your metrics and numbers can help elevate your resume and show off your achievements, giving you a leg up against your competitors. Don’t get lumped into the wrong group! Revel in your triumph and showcase your results — if you don’t, how else will they know what you’re capable of achieving?
Talk Their Talk
Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and figure out what they want to hear. Finding the correct terms can be crucial to getting hired. If not properly written, there’s a chance of sounding more like a salesperson.
Curate your resume from the lens of the hiring manager by keeping the relevant sections and cutting off the sections/experience/education/skills that may hurt your chances.
You can create a powerful resume by tailoring your story to highlight your skills, accomplishments, and qualifications. Remember to focus on your story, and look at it from the hiring manager’s perspective.
What to Put on a Resume: Do’s and Don’ts
A unique resume increases your chances of landing your dream job. It can be hard to impress a Recruiter or hiring manager who is often inundated with resumes and looking for any excuse to move a resume to the reject pile.
We all know the general elements that make up a resume: contact information, professional titles, keywords, accomplishments, and metrics. But what makes your resume stand out among all the other impressive resumes?
How can you manage to get noticed? Simple, by giving the Hiring Manager what they’re looking for! Most Hiring Managers don’t have enough time to review your meticulously crafted resume thoroughly. Statistics show that they only spend about 6 seconds going through your resume!
Thus, you need to make your resume easy to understand and follow. There are three key things Hiring Managers look for:
- Your work experience
- Your accomplishments
- Your impact on the business
- Be sure to state these points succinctly and avoid filler words. The faster the reader can get to the relevant information, the higher your chances of standing out.
- By cutting down on filler words and expressing your career story, you increase the possibility of getting noticed.
When building your resume, lead with content that gives the reader what they’re looking for. Once you’ve finished creating the content, it’s time to start working on the design.
Strategic resume design is paramount; too much clutter can distract the reader, and the same goes for the order of the content. Placing relevant information first, highlighting keywords, and adding enough spacing can help you craft an outstanding and visually beautiful, and functional resume.
Finally, always double, triple, and quadruple-check your work. TYPOS are big NO-NO, and they can seriously hinder your chances. Hiring Managers and Recruiters are known for immediately rejecting a resume if they notice any glaring errors.
Stop Lying On Your Resume
Approximately 40% of people lie on their resumes, and three out of four employers have caught someone lying.
As surprising as this statistic may seem, when you consider the economic climate and the endless competition for better jobs — it makes sense that some people would lie on their resumes.
However, you can’t make the justification that you need to lie or bend the truth on your resume just because you believe that in this competitive environment, you need to take an edge any way you can.
These are the top five lies found on a resume and why it’s wise never to stretch the truth:
- Inflating the range of functions you had direct responsibility for.
It can be tempting to toss an extra burden or break out the thesaurus for another adjective. Resist the urge because a quick phone call to a former employer can tumble your house of cards.
- Claiming a team’s contributions as your own.
Be sure to give credit where credit is due — because this can easily be researched, and you’ll be subsequently called out.
- Creating a more impressive job title.
In this day and age, it seems that notable titles that don’t necessarily reflect one's experience or competency can be thrown around. Stay true to the title that you operated under while you were employed. Just because it was ten years ago doesn’t give you a reason to alter your title thinking nobody will find out — don’t take the bait.
- Claiming a degree that was not earned.
This is one of the most significant ways to have a career implode on you. This type of fraud has toppled CEOs from their positions, all because they were a few credits shy of graduating, but still claimed they wore the gown.
- Fudging the working dates.
Working from October 2021 — March 2022 does not qualify as one year. Enough said.
“Most applicants lie because they are insecure about their experiences and want to seem more qualified.”
— Robert S. Feldman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts.
How to Avoid Falling Victim to These Traps
Ask a Former Boss
This is clearly not the best route to take — but it’s one that will cut through any sugar-coating and let you know what they think of your titles and descriptions.
Ask Yourself: Does It Hold up Against the Front-Page Test?
The front-page test encourages you to think about how you’d feel if your resume is shared on the front page of a newspaper–does it stand the gauntlet of former colleagues or employers to pick it apart?
Stay true and do it right the first time by crafting a powerful opening statement, focusing on your story, and mastering the art of resume writing.
It’s Time To Update Your Resume
You should update your resume at least twice a year, even if you’re not actively seeking a job. It’s always a good practice to update your resume as soon as something new occurs that might make you a more competitive candidate.
Why is this important? Every organization has a different fiscal year, so we like to keep these updates and reminders now and then.
Yes, many companies have a fiscal year that ended on December 31st, but there are plenty whose fiscal year ended in October or September — or if you’re Oracle, it’s June or July. Regardless of the time of year, you want to stay ahead as a candidate by gathering and documenting data and your impact on the business.
No matter your role, if you’re a salesperson, you need to know where you rank in your team, in your vertical, and in your territory — whichever section of the business you are involved with, know your rankings.
If you’re a product person, do you know your product stats? What are the metrics and growth numbers of your product? What KPIs are you working towards? Do you know the impact that you’ve made? If not, you should!
When you leave a company, regardless of whether it’s your decision to leave or not, know your stats and your data. As a candidate in the market, employers expect you to be aware of these data points. If you don’t have the data, it’s very easy for someone to make an incorrect assumption about your expertise and qualifications.
You may hear them say:
“They didn’t care enough. So they didn’t document their numbers”.
“It must not have been important to them.”
We know these are not true. Obviously, it’s important to you because you’re not working as a volunteer. You’re working for an outcome.
So, this is your friendly nudge to get the data from the business and update your resume with that data.
If you need a simple guide on how to craft a great resume, check out our Resume 101 infographic. It will help you create and curate your resume to be accomplishment-focused instead of simply using generic job description language that says nothing.
Minimal Viable Success Stories
I recently attended an event sponsored by the Toronto Product Management Association (TPMA) and wanted to share some of the learnings I took away from the experience.
TPMA is a volunteer-led non-profit association dedicated to serving the needs of Product Managers, Product Marketing Managers, and other professionals working within the tech Product Management field in the GTA. In addition to hosting great learning events like this, they also provide mentoring and networking opportunities.
Their monthly events feature guest speakers and panelists who address pressing issues affecting Product Managers within the tech industry. Last month, Paul Teshima, Chief Client Experience Officer & Head of Invest at Wealthsimple, was the guest speaker.
His talk covered his journey as a Founder, CEO, and startup Executive. He also discussed best practices for measuring product-market fit, balancing new opportunities with existing product demands, the intersection of Product and CX, and disruptive innovation.
It really struck me during this event when Paul discussed the concept of MVP and defined it as minimal viable success stories and the relevance of looking for MVP success stories as product professionals.
As most of you know, an MVP is a minimum version of a product with just enough features to be helpful to early adopters who can provide feedback on future product development.
Paul incorporated this idea into running a business and stressed the importance of always having MVP success stories — little snippets of good things to share with your customers. He encouraged us to recognize those little wins that your early customers are gaining from the products and the experiences that you’re shipping so that you can best keep building the business.
The best thing about this is that it can also be applied to hiring product professionals. As a product leader involved in the hiring process, it is essential to have and share these minimal viable success stories during the interview process.
Why might you ask? Because you need to be able to speak about the minimal viable success stories of your product, your team, and the organization to every candidate you’re meeting. As much as interviewing is about evaluating a candidate, it’s also about selling the opportunity.
To be a successful interviewer, you need to ensure every single candidate leaves the interview wanting more so they will continue engaging in your process. It’s a candidate’s market for product professionals, so it’s crucial that you convey all the significant aspects of your product, brand, and organization.
Likewise, candidates should come prepared for the interview with minimum viable success stories to share. As a candidate, it would be best if you had these stories in your back pocket. What used to be called the “elevator pitch” is now these minimal viable success stories.
Be confident in sharing how you’ve made an impact on the product, to the team, what you’ve launched, what you’ve shipped, what you’ve learned, and how all of that adds value to you, your team, your company, and your customers or to whomever it is you’re building and launching for.
You need to be able to tell those quick, catching stories, not just those filled with subjective opinions but those with facts and figures, since, at the end of the day, that is what a hiring leader is interested in. Sharing compelling stories and being a great storyteller will set you apart.
As for recruiters, our business is storytelling. This whole idea of minimal viable success stories resonated with me because we often speak with new candidates who have never worked with our firm before. So, we need to be mindful and let us know how we add value to the technology companies who hire us to help build their product teams and how our clients have benefited from the strategic hires made in partnership with us.
Regardless of your role or industry, everyone can benefit from being able to tell their MVP success stories well.
4 Myths About Job Searching, Debunked
Job searching can be both exhausting and emotional. I know this because I spend my days speaking with people interested in making moves, and it’s clear that engaging in a job search process—either passively or actively—can be a huge drain. You’re still working full-time, trying to keep your interviews under wraps from your current employer, juggling the demands of life, and considering a leap into the unknown. I get it; I get it.
In the past few years, I’ve noticed a few emerging trends in how candidates think about job searching and working with recruiters. While I can’t speak to the experience of other recruiting firms, it’s clear from my conversations with candidates and others in my firm that these common myths run rampant among job seekers. Here are four common misconceptions that job seekers have about working with recruiters and the reasons you should adjust your thinking if you believe these myths to be true:
Job Searching Myth #1. No One Does Resumes Anymore—RIGHT? WRONG.
In recent years, the rise of LinkedIn has made many job candidates assume that their LinkedIn profile can replace their resume. Why should you create a separate document to submit your candidacy if all of your professional information is readily available online?
While your LinkedIn profile should include much of the same information as your resume, recruiters typically use LinkedIn to quickly scan your experience to see if you’re a high-level fit for their client—however, they won’t look as closely at your profile as they will at your resume. If your LinkedIn profile looks good, the recruiter will ask for more information and a resume to better understand your experience and accomplishments and ultimately determine if it makes sense to talk with you. LinkedIn may get you a phone call from a recruiter, but your resume will get you into the shortlist of a search.
Like it or not, employers want to see a formal resume—they need a detailed document that helps them understand why a recruiter has decided to include them in a shortlist. The resume and the report a recruiter provides to their client help confirm that the recruiter understands the requirements of the role and that the candidates they presented should be interviewed.
Candidates who are adamant that a resume is not required are, at best misguided about professional norms and, at worst disrespectful of the processes of both the recruiter and the employer. Do you want to be the one out of five who doesn’t submit a resume? Are you comfortable sending the message that you can’t be bothered to polish up a standard document to submit your candidacy? Make sure you keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date, and you’ll be ready when the next opportunity pops up.
Job Searching Myth #2. If I call/talk with a Recruiter, they will help me find a job—RIGHT? WRONG. (Sort of.)
Recruiters work for their clients, not their candidates. It’s the employer who pays the recruiter to conduct a job search and find people who most closely fit their requirements.
For candidates, recruiters provide a free service: keeping them informed of opportunities and reaching out to let them know when a role that fits their skills and experience comes up. While good recruiters care deeply about the candidate's experience and genuinely want to be part of a happy career journey, they don’t lie awake at night about finding you a job. They stress about finding the right candidate for their client. If it’s you, that’s great, but don’t wait for a recruiter to take charge of your job search.
You have to take ownership of your career journey. A successful job search process consists of three pillars:
- Reach out to your network and let them know you’re looking/available. Be as specific as possible about the kind of role you’re looking for and how they can support you in your search. Take former colleagues out for coffee, and pick the brains of people who know your work and space.
- Contact employers directly. This means sending out job applications (along with your resume… you’ve got a resume ready, right? If not, see myth number 1). Ensure that your application materials demonstrate the value you can bring to an organization—show how you can help solve the problems they need to be solved. Highlight how your accomplishments in previous roles align with their requirements. Your communication should be geared toward their needs, not your wants.
- Engage with recruiters who know or have reached out to you. When you accept a call with a recruiter, please ask them about the types of clients and searches they often work on and whether or not they specialize in your field. That will help you understand the degree to which you need to slow down how you communicate what you do and where you have successfully ensured they know your value. For example, here at Martyn Bassett Associates, we specialize in venture-funded tech startups, hiring for roles that drive revenue—sales, marketing, customer success, product, and IT/analytics. This niche focus enables our team of recruiters to become market experts for our clients and our candidates (it also means that we’re not likely the best fit if you’re looking for a role in hospitality).
Recruiters can be a great asset in your search for your next role—but they cannot take ownership of your career. Remember that they work for their clients, not for you, and that if you’re not quite the right fit for their client, it’s nothing personal—there can only be one successful candidate in each job search. If you’re working all three pillars of your job search, something will come around.
Job Searching Myth #3. To move UP, I need to move OUT—RIGHT? WRONG.
We often hear candidates share their desire to get a promotion from individual contributor to management when they move to a new job. While occasionally, we can help someone make that move, there’s nothing we can do most of the time.
Why not? Because, generally speaking, a recruiter is hired to find the person who most closely fits the search requirements. If the requirement is to manage the team, then the employer is seeking candidates who do that today. A candidate who wants to move up to management in their next role doesn’t fit the search requirements—and would be competing with candidates who have the experience.
For these types of candidates, job changes occur for various reasons, with money often being the least influential—although the reasons people become interested in making a job change can undoubtedly affect their compensation. Some examples we’ve seen of why people change jobs:
- I’ve exceeded my quota for the X year in a row, and I’m ready to leave while I’m still at the top (this often foreshadows organizational changes).
- We have a new CEO/Leader, and they are bringing in their team. I’m perceived as part of the old guard.
- I am interested in an opportunity to be the first person to open up a new market or vertical, and that’s not possible in my current role.
- I want to move my career toward the new trend in XYZ solutions (machine learning, AI, wearables, etc.).
- My family bought a home in XYZ city, and I’m hoping to reduce my commute.
If getting promoted is your goal, we recommend that you start with the following steps:
- Ask for a meeting with the person you report to.
- Share your career goals! (Yes, you have to say them out loud).
- Ask for feedback from your boss, and be open to their suggestions.
- Ask them what they have identified as barriers to getting that role, the skills they need to develop, or the results they need to achieve.
- Really listen to this feedback, and get to work incorporating it into your day-to-day.
We get it, this can be really hard. However, people who are ready for management roles need to be ready to have tough conversations and to be transparent with leadership teams. Great leaders are open to dialogue and demonstrate humility. If the idea of having this conversation is too much to handle, then you need to explore whether or not you’re ready for a leadership role. If you really want to move up to the next rung on the career ladder, make sure that you’ve done everything you can to make it happen within your current organization before seeking out an opportunity elsewhere.
Job Searching Myth #4. Money is the #1 motivator for changing jobs—RIGHT? WRONG! (Sort of.)
Most of the candidates we work with aren’t motivated by money when they start job searching. They have typically experienced professionals who have been successful in their roles for at least five years—they are no longer just beginning after University, have well-established lifestyles, and are approaching the median to top bracket of what the market pays for their skills, role, and experience.
Most people we speak with who changed jobs solely for the money are miserable and looking for another job less than a year later. Instead of focusing solely on salary, the more critically important questions to ask yourself are:
- Is this a job I want to do?
- Is this the group I want to do it with?
If the answer to both is no, there’s no amount of money that will make the stress and unhappiness you’ll be dealing with worth it.
Instead of making the conversation with a recruiter about money, think through the kind of situation you’re interested in hearing about. What is important to you in the type of role? The type of company? The long-term goal that you are trying to move towards? What skills are you trying to add to your toolkit (an especially important question if you are a designer, product manager, or engineer)? How valuable are those skills to you as it relates to money? If an AI vendor was willing to take a risk on you (with no AI skills) is that valuable enough to take a $5K dip in base, commute further to get to the office, or get bumped from four weeks' vacation back down to three?
It’s also important to keep in mind that you likely don’t have a full picture of what the “market value” of your work is. There are very rare standards for compensation for most roles in the high-tech industry. Don’t create a situation where you expect your next employer to make up for the fact that you feel you didn’t negotiate hard enough for your current position, or that you have a vague feeling that your contributions aren’t properly valued. We’ve seen how this plays out, and it never ends well.
Lastly, keep in mind that in most cases, the recruiter directly benefits from getting you the highest possible salary. They are the experts on what companies typically pay for the kind of role you’re looking for (they are talking to tons of candidates every day, and know what your direct competition for the role is making as well). Be transparent and honest about your current income, goals, and aspirations. Lying about income will always come back to bite you when negotiations get serious (many employers will ask to see a T4 slip—don’t get your offer yanked because you exaggerated). Recruiters are on your side, and will help to facilitate negotiations—they aren’t out to lowball you.
Time and again, these myths derail otherwise excellent candidates from moving into new roles. Do yourself a favor and make sure that you’ve got a resume ready, are working all three pillars of your job search, are actively working toward your career goals at your current organization, and are very clear about what is motivating you to engage in a job search—it will make the process much easier.
What Recruiters Look For on LinkedIn
When was the last time you polished up your LinkedIn profile?
It’s pretty common to only update your LinkedIn profile when you’re job searching, or starting a new position. Most people don’t think about it much—if you’re happily employed, why would it matter? Aside from the fact that employment circumstances can change at any time, having an updated LinkedIn profile makes it easier for professionals to reach out to you about opportunities in your field.
Instead of viewing your profile as something static to be updated during times of transition, it’s wise to think of it as a living document that reflects your professional experience.
Even if you’re happily employed, chances are, you’d be interested in having a brief conversation with a reputable recruiter about the right opportunity. So, unless you’re 100% sure that you will never leave your current job under any circumstances, it’s a smart practice to keep an active and up-to-date LinkedIn profile.
I recently sat down with our team of executive recruiters to talk about how they use LinkedIn, and what they look for in potential candidates for positions with our clients. Here are some of the things they look for:
A profile that is geared toward accomplishments, not just responsibilities.
Our Senior Recruiter, Heidi Ram, said that she looks for candidates who “care enough about what they do to brag a little.” Instead of just listing your day to day tasks, think about what you’ve achieved in your roles, and highlight that.
A work history of progressive experience.
Recruiters are looking for evidence that you’ve had increasing responsibilities and accomplishments in your career. What is the story that your job experience tells? When executive recruiters send your resume to their clients, they include a profile that tells your story and highlights your accomplishments. So a LinkedIn job history that shows a logical progression of accomplishments is a great way to get them interested.
Accuracy in your dates of employment, with little to no significant overlap or gaps in your work history.
They are also on the lookout for signs of job-hopping—one or two short stays in roles can be explained, but if your whole work history is made up of 6 - 12 month jobs, or you’ve changed functions with each role (moving from sales to customer success and then over to marketing, for example) that will raise some red flags. I’ll add a caveat here: a specialized recruiting firm within a niche industry usually has a finger on the pulse of what’s happening, and will recognize companies that have been through recent upheaval. They won’t penalize you for getting downsized after an acquisition, or caught up in some well-known corporate politics.
A clear headshot.
I know, we all say that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover—but at the end of the day, that’s just human nature. Use a headshot that is clear, well-lit, in focus, and smiling. A broody black-and-white photo or a shot raising a glass at a party might not get you completely disqualified from a search, but it will raise questions about your professionalism that you may then need to address.
Keywords are incredibly helpful, especially for technical professionals.
Include the programming languages you’re fluent in, the tech stacks you’re a wizard with, and the methodologies you use regularly—and make it easy for recruiters to find you for relevant roles. Occasionally, clients will ask for credentials like an MBA or other advanced degree, so if you have one, make sure to include it!
Recruiters are looking to get a sense of your personality and tone, and for an overall sense of your professional story so far.
Each client has a distinct company culture, and they are looking for signs that you’ll fit. What do you post about? Do you describe yourself in a lighthearted way, or is it all business? There are no right or wrong answers here—the overall flavour of your profile will be a result of the industries you work in, your experience, and your personality—so don’t try to fake it. Just be yourself.
Keeping your LinkedIn profile fresh and up to date is a great practice to adopt. At the end of each quarter, think about your accomplishments in your role and update your profile to reflect them. What do you want to be known for as a professional? Update your tagline and summary to communicate your expertise. Did you receive any professional certifications, or speak at any industry events? Don’t be shy about sharing them!
Recruiters look at hundreds of LinkedIn profiles and resumes each week, and LinkedIn is often the first place they go to find candidates for their clients. Even if you’re not actively looking for a new role, it’s smart to make it easy for recruiters to find you—your next opportunity might just land in your inbox as a result.