The field of product management has become incredibly crowded in the past few years.
In the US alone, there are 205,000 product managers that are competing with each other! In the world, you’re looking at a community of 1+ million product people.
Setting yourself apart from this competitive market is key, whether you want to land a product job, increase your audience, or simply get better at your role.
I’ve asked several tech recruiters and hiring managers in the product field to give their insights on what sets a product manager apart from others.
This article will present this advice and demonstrate that you should harness the power of AI and technology in order to truly stand out as a product manager.
Document your personal journey as a product manager
A resume or a LinkedIn profile doesn’t show what makes you different from other product managers.
I’ve asked a tech recruiter who filled 100+ product management roles in the past 5 years and she told me that the only relevant information she found in most resumes was the main industry where the candidate has worked.
“I’m checking if the candidate has worked in the same industry as the position I’m looking to fill. Unfortunately, the rest becomes pretty irrelevant because all product managers are listing more or less the same tools, methodologies, and KPIs.”
This is the sad truth: a cold resume fails at showing what truly sets you apart. It has nothing to do with the candidates themselves. It’s just that the resume format doesn’t pay tribute to what truly covers the areas of expertise of a product manager.
Another recruiter in e-commerce gave me this feedback:
“A good product manager is a person who shows leadership, strategic thinking, communication, and adaptability. These qualities require more than a few bullet points. You need to create a genuine conversation where the candidate gives illustrations, and document specific cases.”
To prevent from competing with 100s of cold resumes that only show your industry expertise, list your answers to the questions a recruiter won’t find on your resume:
- How do you personally determine what customers want and need?
- Tell me how you would prioritize a feature that your top customer wants versus a UX issue that generates 100s of support calls per month.
- What has been your biggest failure as a product manager? How did you overcome that?
- How do you communicate your product strategy?
- Which product newsletters do you follow? What do you think of them?
These are just a few examples of the questions you could answer. The most important part is that your answers should illustrate situations that only you have experienced.
Your own experiences are what truly sets you apart. Of course, adding all your answers to your resume will make it cluttered and unreadable.
That’s why you should be using another platform to display your unique take on product questions, whether it’s a personal blog or website.
Or, if you don’t want to spend hours creating a website or maintaining a blog, you can also document these answers by using a Personal AI.
A Personal AI refers to a category of AI where users can create, train, and grow a virtual companion tailored to their needs. Unlike general AI like ChatGPT or Claude trained on billions of generic data points, a Personal AI is trained on its users’ experiences, opinions, and memories. Although the concept is still in its infancy, professionals are starting to use Personal AIs to keep records of their professional experiences and personal recommendations. Think of it as a timeless journal that acts as your second brain online, accessible by anyone at any time.
Using a Personal AI, you can record your answers to these product questions and update them throughout your career.
There are a few tools, like Spheria.ai that can record your answers.
Show what goes beyond your technical skills
Many recruiters acknowledge that assessing soft skills for a candidate looking to fill a PM role is a hard task. I’ve asked a hiring manager of a D2C brand and this is what he told me:
“I look for product managers that have a good cultural fit. This role is pivotal in any organization and many product managers are expected to connect with other teams, from marketing & sales to tech, or management. It can highly affect the quality of relationships with stakeholders, especially because they often don’t have authority over them.”
As always, you need to do your prep work to show the right signals before your interview. It is like that you have already answered all the questions expected from a product manager. Now is the time to go beyond what technically makes you a great product manager.
Showcase the projects where you’ve worked with people from different backgrounds, functions, and cultures.
“I love candidates who share the projects where they’ve assembled a team of in-house marketers, developers, and sales. This is the type of leadership skill that’s truly remarkable for any organization.”
If you have given your time to mentor aspiring product managers, this is the perfect opportunity to mention it. If this is something you are interested in but have not yet tried, there are plenty of platforms where you can mentor people for free, such as ADPList.
Remember, leadership, adaptability, and communication are skills that you shouldn’t overlook when you apply for a job. In the list of questions you’ve recorded in your favorite note-taking app or your Personal AI, add these ones:
- What projects have you led where you’ve had to work with other departments? Can you describe the outcome?
- How do you expand your network?
- What qualities do you seek in people you work with?
- How do you overcome disagreements?
The more you share, the more you show what truly sets you apart.
Make your portfolio accessible
As a product manager, you’re expected to demonstrate the impact your decisions had on your previous product experiences. Neither your resume or LinkedIn profile tells the complete story.
Instead, recruiters highly value product managers who have taken the time to showcase their portfolio on a personal website or a blog. You don’t need to update your website or blog every week but it’s impactful to have a space of your own with your legacy.
“Although it’s not mandatory, a personal website or blog gives legitimacy. I’m not expecting a well-designed website (PMs are not designers!) but something that shows accomplishments, testimonials from clients, and personal projects gives a stellar impression.”
The platform you’re using doesn’t really matter: you can simply start a WordPress, kickstart a Blogger, or use a Personal AI like Spheria.
Choose a platform where you can list everything that truly sets you apart — Credit: spheria.ai
On your website, you could share your opinion on the latest tools you’ve reviewed or give your 2 cents on a product redesign. You could also repost insights from other leaders in your industry (with credits of course!).
By doing this, you are not only showcasing your achievements as a product manager, you are also giving access to your mind. His is the best way to ignite a genuine conversation with an employer.
“Hiring managers love browsing a candidate’s portfolio, instead of skimming through a resume. The quality of the conversation goes instantly up”
An accessible portfolio is definitely the best way to set yourself apart from 1000s of other product managers that you are competing with.
Standing out doesn’t have to take much effort anymore
Product management is a result-oriented field that requires demonstrating your impact and outcomes. But, it goes way beyond that.
Hiring managers and recruiters are looking for cultural fit, adaptability, and leadership. These qualities don’t really show on your resume or your LinkedIn profile. To stand out, you need to give access to your mind and let people browse through your brain.
Fortunately, there are many tools out there that can help you with that. Choose the one that doesn’t take you a lot of effort to maintain, and simply add what makes you truly unique: your personal opinions, thoughts, and perspectives.