Guest Post: A Short Guide to Being an Unemployed PM, Part Three
Last time, I waxed poetic (I’m being generous) about learning to drink dirt once the Product Management well runs dry. Some of you may already have looked-up many dirt-based mixers to add to your little bartending book. OOOoh – that’s another good transitional career for PMs!
But once you’ve made the switch, how do you make it seem like you’re not a total newbie?
Convincing Others You’ve Drank Dirt for Years
Prepare to have umpteen versions of your resume. Why? Because no measly HR schmuck or IT recruiter is going to read “Product Manager” and equate that with all the other roles you could fill.
No, when one of these dips is tasked to fill a position for “Senior Monkey Trainer”, they look for those exact words on every resume. So if you apply and your resume shows your previous title as “Tarzan Lord of the Jungle”, it’s not going to click in their tiny wind-up brains and you will go on the reject pile. Even worse, you may have to apply through one of those utterly horrible online job applications – they’re scanning for keywords, and job title will be one of them.
And don’t try explaining in your cover letter that “a PM fills the same responsibilities as X/Y/Z roles”. Been there, tried that, doesn’t work. Again, their tiny wind-up brains can’t handle such wildly abstract explanations. There’s a reason why your high school guidance counselor could only get a job as a high school guidance counselor. Same reason why these schmucks could only get a job as HR recruiters.
So what to do?
Simple. Replace your “Product Management” title with the title you’re applying for. Really. Of course, this assumes that you’ve actually filled the responsibilities for that role – then it’s just semantics that your past employers gave you one title while this prospective employer will give you another. The point is, you’ve done the work before, and that’s what “experience” is about – what you did, not what your title was.
This also means cutting out all the stuff that obviously doesn’t apply to the new position. Otherwise, they’ll think it’s odd that a Sales Engineer was responsible for updating the quarterly roadmap, etc.
Is this deceptive? No. Again, it’s getting over the hurdle that is the recruiter’s tiny brain. When you get an interview with the actual hiring manager, be forthright about what your previous PM roles were and how they match what they’re looking for. Fact is, the hiring manager has probably heard of Product Management and will understand it more.
OK, I’m sure some of you are calling BS on this tactic, thinking that it’s lying about your past experience. If it makes you feel better, I actually use a “slash” title – “Product Manager / Pre-Sales” or “Product Manager / Business Analyst”. This gets me by the keyword scanners, and it even clicks with tiny-brained recruiters. Plus, it doesn’t make me feel dirty, like I’m turning my back on my one masochistic true love – Product Management. Oh, it hurts me so…
That brings us to the end of this installment – I have to get back to spinning my resume into myriad mythical forms. I don’t know about you, but I think my experience manning trade show booths makes me more than qualified to be a seal trainer at the zoo. Bucket of fish, bucket of tchockes – both are good at getting an audience to slap their fins together. What’s your take? How far would you feel comfortable “rebranding” yourself to find work? In the next installment, we reach the end and I reveal my best advice to date.
Also in The Product Manager's Guide to Unemployment
- Guest Post: A Short Guide to Being an Unemployed Product Manager – Part One
- Guest Post: A Short Guide to Being an Unemployed Product Manager – Part Two
- Guest Post: A Short Guide to Being an Unemployed Product Manager, Part Three
- Guest Post: A Short Guide to Being an Unemployed Product Manager, Part Four