What you need in a good product CV (part 2)


What you need in a good product CV (part 2)

How do you make yourself look like a top class product person, even when you've never had a product job in your life?  

You've got the format of your CV all sorted and it looks the business, and you've written a killer personal summary (see this post for more on how you go about doing this) then to make yourself look irresistible it's all about the product skills that you need to bring to the forefront in order to get you that dream role.

Focus on practical, real-world skills and achievements 

As a recruiter there's nothing worse than reading the CV of someone who has given themselves their own appraisal and described themselves as a "Go-getting, high performing team player” or "Marco thinker with deep understanding of the user's psyche".  It's all a bit self-congratulatory and vague.

You need to focus on facts and real world skills in order to get across what you have really done and what you have really achieved.

An example of a personal summary I wrote for someone this week is:

"User discovery and design thinking product professional, and product consultant, experienced in user research and user experience, stakeholder relationships, and digital delivery. Experienced delivering design thinking for global brands, with the ability to define goals, run workshops, and lead successful teams."

From this, I know she's a product person with a user experience kind of background, who knows how to manage relationships and is good with people.  It's a much more clear description of what she is capable of than her previous summary which just said "4 years experience driving product thinking and user driven approaches in telco organisations."  Which will make you read more?

Help them picture you in their organisation

If you are asked to think about someone who would work within your organisation, you immediately start to picture the people who already work there, the type of customers you have, the kind of roles you have, and the work you do.  It's the same with recruiters.

Even if you're talking to an external recruiter, they will have learned about the organisation they are working for, and they have this picture in their mind of what the new recruit is going to be like.

Our job is to try and get across this picture within our CV

You need to show them how the organisations you worked for are of a similar size to theirs. How you're working in a similar or related market. How the tasks you do are similar to the ones you'll be performing in this role. Anything you can to bring out those similarities (of course, don't lie about it!).

If they can get a glimpse of how you've been working in their world, then it’s not a big leap to imagining you working in that world for their organisation.

Are your skills relevant?

If you're making a transition from a non-product role to a product role, there is often a tendency to leave your CV written as if you were going for the same kind of job that you're currently in.

For example, if you are a software engineer looking for your first product management role, your CV will likely list all the coding languages you can write, all the implementations you've done or the testing approaches you take.  It's understandable, as that's what you know, that's what you've been doing, and that's what you did to get you the jobs you've had in your life so far.

However, I'm afraid, none of these are the primary concern for someone recruiting for a product role.

What you need to do is start thinking like a product manager and put your user (i.e. the recruiter) at the centre of your product (i.e. your CV). Once you start thinking about what they need, then you'll start to see how things need to change within your CV.

Talk about the skills that you have which are transferable to a product role.  It could be how you manage stakeholders expectations all the time, how you talk to users in order to obtain requirements, or how you prioritise the work going through the engineering team.  

The same princple applies if you are transitioning from marketing, design, sales, or any other part of your business.

As yourself, which skills are relevant, and make sure you bring these to the forefront of your work experience. Your non-product role skills need to become secondary, as they become the icing on the cake for the recruiter.

"Ah, I see they're responsible for team prioritisation and requirements definition experience, plus they've got an engineering background and so understand the technology more than many product managers.".  That lifts you past the lifelong product person into a multi-faceted, experience software person.

Make the changes today

There's no time like the present.  Dust off your CV and see how you can make it seem more product focused and more targeted at your next role and not at your last one.

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