Make your work experience work for you

Make your work experience work for you

Your CV is just a history of the jobs you held and  record of the skills you have.  Correct?

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Your CV is a advertisement for you that is targeted at a specific recruiter.

If you make this change in your relationship with your CV, you will start to understand that the work experience you include in your CV is actually not fixed and it is something that can be adjusted to meet the needs of the recruiter.

"But the job I had was the job I had.  I can't change that!"

True, but what you write down about that job can change.

I'm not suggesting that you should lie or make things up.  I'm talking about emphasizing the most relevant aspects of the job for the people you're sending that version of your CV to.

"Give me an example."

Let's say the standard paragraph I have for my role is as follows:

"My role at Company X is as a Product Manager, responsible for the ongoing growth of  Financial Product Y, including research, testing, and analysis.  I've enjoyed success in this role with the 48% increase in user engagement, a 23% increase in user upgrade, and a 14% reduction in churn rate."

Now, consider the roles I'm interested in pursuing are

  • Product Owner at a retail software company
  • Senior Product Manager at a financial services company
  • Product Manager for engagement at a beauty brand

Does my standard paragraph give the recruiters for these roles what they want to hear?

Hiring for a Product Owner for a retail product, the recruiter is going to want to know about how involved you were in requirements gathering, story writing, team participation.

The financial services recruiter is looking for signs of seniority, which comes with it a breadth of skills and experience, as well as the ability to lead others.

For the beauty brand, the recruiter would want to know that you understand the kind of customers they would have, the experience they desire, and how you as a product manager have delivered these.

As product roles are quite varied in their remit, the chances are that you will have some relevant experience that you could talk about, instead of focusing on the user engagement within financial services, even though you were a user engagement focused product manager within financial services.

For example, with the more senior financial services role, we might say:

"Company X is a financial services company, where my product role takes on responsibility for user engagement, stakeholder management, strategic direction, and leading the team's product activities.  Under my management, Product Y has seen an increase in engagement and sales growth, and a decrease in user churn." 

All we've done is rearrange some of the sentences to focus us in as being within a financial services company, reduced the emphasis on growth and increased the more strategic and team focused responsibilities.

Doesn't this mean I will need to write lots of CVs

No. It means that you will need to re-write sections of your CV to meet the needs of the recruiter.  

Start thinking like a product manager and put your user (i.e. the recruiter) at the centre of your product (i.e. your CV). What benefit do they want to get from reading your CV?

Once you start thinking about what they need, then you'll start to see how you can adjust your CV to put across the skills you already have, in a way that's going to appeal to them.