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We’ve all been there: changing jobs after being at a company for a while, changing careers, getting into a new field, and many other situations that make us look at our resume and say “oof, I haven’t updated this in a while and I don’t even know where to start!”. Even though I specialize in Product Management, these tips apply no matter what field you’re in or you want to get into. Here they go:
What skills are required for the job?
The first thing to do is to think about what positions you want to apply for and understand the skills required. This is especially important if you’re making a career switch because you’ll want to show your new employer that you can do the job even though your previous experience has no mention of that specific job title. It’s also possible that you’ve actually developed these skills during your experience since the last time you updated your resume.
Take a look at positions you want to apply to and understand common threads. For example, for a tech product manager, you’ll notice that skills like roadmap building or stakeholder management will me mentioned quite a bit. Think about specific examples during your experience in which you’ve used these skills. And the good news here is that particularly if you’re looking to get into a new field…
…don’t limit yourself to formal job experience
Maybe you haven’t led a team of developers before, or prioritized features for a million-user app, but you’ve built a website or you sold something or you have a blog about relevant topics. Include this too! Don’t overlook internships, side projects, or anything where you’ve applied the skills you need.
Think accomplishments, not job duties
It’s very tempting to use valuable resume space to talk about job duties, but that’s not what differentiates you from other candidates, it'‘s what you accomplished while performing those duties. For example, if you were in sales for a specific products, there’s no new information for recruiters if you resume reads “managed sales for X product”. Talk instead about how you ranked, or something specific that you did that increased sales while you were in that position.
Side projects and pet projects are also fantastic for this. Think about that time you improved a process and made your team work more efficiently. You should mention that!
Quantify impact as much as you can
Now that you’ve identified situations and accomplishments where you’ve put the necessary skills into practice, think or estimate the impact in terms of hard numbers. It’s best if you have results, such as “increased sales by X%”, or “reduced costs by X%”, or “brought X new clients”, or “closed deals for $X”. Sometimes this won’t be possible, but then you can talk about other things, like scale of a project, or number of clients, or anything that’s quantifiable. The idea is to not only show impact but also bring a potentially vague and abstract accomplishment down to Earth with concrete numbers.
Putting it all together
If you were able to think through the steps mentioned above, you’re most of the way there. Now it’s time to put those thought on paper. I’ll talk more about this on other blog posts. Stay tuned, or contact me to have your resume professionally reviewed.