Product Manager Interview/Resume: The Unconventional Way – Chris’ Story | Life In Tech by Bessy Tam

Product Manager Interview/Resume: The Unconventional Way – Chris’ Story

Published on 18 January 2021 by Bessy Tam | Filed in Testimonials

Chris was applying to a lot of jobs online as a Product Manager but wasn't hearing back. He's hired coaches before who were too general and were more "life coach types".

The generalists didn't have experiences with product management nor with tech companies.

In the end, he was never able to get the results he wanted. Even when he would get an interview, 1 out of 5 times he would land an interview with the hiring manager but it typically wouldn't move past that phase.

He was frustrated and figured that it wasn't working just doing it all by himself, that's when he reached out to a LinkedIn Product Manager community where a fellow Product Manager recommended Bessy

Chris and Bessy worked together in the "Resume Revamp + Role Fit" and "Interview Prep" Programs. 

He was able to:

  • Reframe his experiences with metrics and real results
  • Put his experiences into a framework that hiring managers are looking for
  • Land interviews and referrals through outreach strategies
  • Predict 90%+ of questions in interviews that were prepared for
  • Land a job even in Santa Barbara, where there weren't many tech companies 
  • Negotiate a significantly higher salary than was initially offered.

Want to hear more? I'll leave it to Chris to tell you his experience

Challenges

I was looking for a job earlier this year in product management. And I was in a place where I had tried a bunch of product management communities on Slack, and I was communicating and doing mock interviews with other aspiring and existing product managers.

The company that I worked with before had a transition plan that provided a transition consulting service that provided a coach, resume assistance, and LinkedIn profile updating.

Those services were okay.

I wasn't getting two big things:.

  1. I wasn't getting responses from the places that I really wanted to work for,.
  2. And then the other thing was when I would get an interview, I would interview with the recruiter and maybe 1 out of 5 times I would get an interview with a hiring manager and then typically it wouldn't move past that phase.

Why Chris Hired Bessy

I realized that it wasn’t working just doing it all by myself. I went onto LinkedIn and I just posted a kind of an all-call saying, “Hey, I'm looking for a coach to help me with my interview prep and my resume and my LinkedIn profile, does anyone have a recommendation?

A fellow that I had never met before said that he had worked with Bessy and had said that it had worked for him and they had managed to get him a job.

I also asked a bunch of friends and I was recommended to a couple more “life coach type” folks. I met with Bessy and one of these life coaches. The life coach was great, but she wasn't what I needed. She was more focused on my life and broader questions.

Looking back, even my transition coach was kind of a generalist and didn't have experience with product management. He had some experience in tech companies, but even there, it felt like he didn't have a lot of experience there.

Bessy definitely has lots of experience in tech companies and product management in particular. And that was why I wanted to work with her. 

Working with Bessy

Reframing Work Experiences with Measurable Metrics

What we did was we basically spent two meetings where we basically talked about my resume. We talked about a lot of the items that were already on the resume. And I basically talked to her about my career, especially my career in the tech field.

We talked about my customer care background, as well as my product management background.

She reframed everything so that it sounded great. And it made me realize that, “Oh, I've done a lot of great things!”

I think when I'm in the work itself, I'm focused on the work itself without taking a step back and say, “Hey, look at all this great stuff that we accomplished.” Instead I'm really saying, “okay, I got that done and I'm moving onto the next thing.” So it was an opportunity for me to also kind of look back at my career to date and say, “Hey, yeah, I did a whole bunch of great things.”

So we recorded 10-12 different stories around product management and my customer
care background. Those stories were really focused on the KPIs and the measurable metrics. We try to get the actual numbers and results.

Outreaching to Targeted Companies

We used a technique to reach out to people at targeted companies.

Instead of me:

  • sending a resume out to 1 million jobs
  • just throwing it onto the job boards and going through LinkedIn
  • throwing a resume at everybody
  • and spending four hours on a cover letter that I don't know if they ever even got read.

With Bessy, I focused on one company and really sending out messages, targeting product managers at that company, and trying to get a conversation going with someone there.

And it turns out that one of the companies that I did this with, I landed a quick interview with the recruiter.

The hiring manager actually responded back and said, “Hey, let's talk in an interview basically.“ And I talked to the recruiter and then I talked to him and then moved through the process.

That job unfortunately didn't close but I got to the rounds with that one.

This was much further than I had gotten any time when I was trying to do this on my own.

Preparing for Interviews

Bessy and I did extensive interview preparation working on those stories, crafting responses to the most common interview questions.

That was really helpful to be able to do be very ready for the kind of questions that came up.

I would say 90% of the questions that Bessy has documented in her sheet were the ones that I was asked in interviews. Sometimes there were little variations, but those were the kinds of questions that were I was already prepared for.

So that was great.

The Results and Negotiations

I finally did get an offer from another company. This one was more of a customer-facing company as opposed to a platform company, which is where my product management experience was.

It was a customer-facing company working in the same space as my platform work.

Eventually they made an offer and Bessy coached me through the whole negotiation process and the offer itself.

I had made a mistake in the beginning when I had spoken to these folks before Bessy and I had started working together. They had asked me about my salary expectations at the beginning.

I didn't realize how that can hamper things.

Bessy kind of kept me calm throughout the contract negotiations because I was worried about, them pulling out of the situation.

She kept in me calm and ultimately the offer that I got was significantly higher than was initially offered.

This was something very much that I could live with and it made me feel like they really wanted me to work there. So when I started working, I came in with a lot of confidence : understanding my value immediately when I hit the ground and being able to actually deliver that value to my new company.

Using Bessy’s Strategies Beyond the Job Offer

So, overall it was a very great experience even through to when I started working.

This job is not my final role. It's merely the beginning. Now that I'm here at a new organization, I'm able to take stock and start being strategic about where I want to go next and what I want to do next.

Sort of being very intentional about planning where I want to take my career. And because of that, I can now do those things like, “Oh, I just accomplished a thing, sit back, document what I did in the moment, maybe make mock-ups of the stuff that I worked on to have as examples for, you know, to continue to put in my resume.” As well as just start to build that story up, like, “Hey, this thing I accomplishment, what were the KPIs that it delivered on?”

So I can use this framework and build into this framework as I move forward which is great because I already worked with Bessy.

I don't know if it's a service she offers, but I probably will check in with her twice a year, just to kind of see where I am tracking to where I ultimately want to be in product management.

Who does Chris Recommend Bessy’s Service to?

Bessy’s service is good for people who wants to get into a technical field but may not know how to take their current work experience and put it in a framework that the people who are hiring for these technical jobs are looking for.

It's also good for people who may have been already looking for work and haven't been as successful as they want it to be and shake things up.

I think it's good for people even people who are currently working. They may be perfectly fine in the work that they're doing, but maybe they're drifting and want to be a lot more intentional and a lot more focused on moving their career in the direction that they want to go.

What Should Future Clients Expect?

Bessy is very professional and she knows a ton about tech. She has a really strong work ethic and she understands how to get results in what is a pretty challenging space, to help people get the results that they are looking for in terms of career advancement and career movement.

Applying to tech companies but
getting crickets? I’ve been there!

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About the Author

Bessy Tam is a career coach who helps busy professionals get into their dream non-tech job in tech. She’s helped dozens of clients get interviews and offers from companies such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Lyft, Amazon, Babbel, & More. She currently works at Google in Chicago.

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