Translating your PM title

Microsoft LKEB62
Jan 21, 2018 16 Comments

Hi Blinders. A friend and I are talking about leaving Microsoft for higher growth pastures.

She’s a Program Manager/PM at Microsoft. Her role fits Product Manager roles at typical tech companies. But when she applied to Product Manager roles, recruiters want her to instead interview for Program Manager roles, which don’t fit what she does at all. She’s tried clarifying in the description part of her resume that she manages the technical and some business aspects of the product - to, you know, clue recruiters into what she actually does. She’s tried talking with them to explain she’s more of a product manager. So far, recruiters can’t get over her Program Manager title. (Maybe these are atypical “need to fit you in a box based on your title” people?)

QUESTION: Would it be okay to list her job title as Product get over this translation hump?

Replies from Program Managers, Product Managers, recruiters, and all who have encountered this problem welcome - thanks!


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TOP 16 Comments
  • Amazon Itouchyou
    Anyone remotely familiar with PM at Microsoft knows you’re bullshitting if you put Product Manager on your profile. The PM role’s responsibilities at Microsoft just don’t mesh with the industry definition of product management unless you’re a GPM or higher. Most Microsoft PMs are closer to TPM.
    Jan 22, 2018 1
    • Google Appie
      I think this is only true at the larger, more bureaucratic orgs (windows,office)
      Jan 22, 2018
  • Microsoft UMbR31
    Yes. All MSFT PMs face this. It's made worse by post MBA product marketing managers writing 'Product Manager' on their LinkedIn and the hiring manager refusing to believe that there's no 'product manager' designation at MSFT.

    Problem with blatantly lying about designation is that if an ex MSFT person sees it or called for reference, all relevant people will wonder what's up with this candidate. For example, I've never hired a single individual after finding out they misstated something on their CV, that's usually the end of the conversation.

    It's really hard to get to an interview, but once you get there it's better to explain to the hiring manager / PM / staff.

    If you're talking to recruiters trying to get a real PM job, you're doing it wrong. Get interview through friends.
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Yelp BDkP87
    I don't know how easy is it for companies to find out your exact title. Also even the PM role is extremely subjective and varies a lot from company to company and team to team. No body cares about LinkedIn title so you can add product manager title there and get invites from recruiters. On the resume you can keep the title vague (like technical product/program manager) and submit it. It all depends upon your interview performance tbh.
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Guidewire Lawn
    Never lie on a resume
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Yelp BDkP87
    Is this part of the Bing team? I know some Bing PMs who just focus on execution and barely on strategy which is like a program manager. PMs are usually expected to create and set a vision for their product. At MSFT all the strategy is set by SVPs the program manager just executes.

    Also MSFT stock is killing it, why do you want to leave?
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Indeed / Eng LS2xp0E
    Sounds like you're dealing with recruiters who are a bit clueless to what they are recruiting for. Keep the title. If they've done any sort of market research before starting a recruiting search for PMs - they'd quickly find out that Microsoft product managers are called Program Managers. Might be a blessing in disguise. If the recruiter doesn't know what PMs do or are called at other companies its highly unlikely the company is hiring quality talent for those positions and possibly others. If it comes up again, I'd suggest bluntly saying, "Microsoft calls their Product managers - Program Managers" and continue with the conversation.
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Amazon Teon
    Change title! A lot of recruiters reached out when I changed from Program to product!
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Google Appie
    Change title
    Jan 21, 2018 2
    • Yelp BDkP87
      They can verify the title during background check, so be careful
      Jan 21, 2018
    • Google Appie
      Title already differs between companies, would be strange to reject withput inquiring why title is different
      Jan 21, 2018
  • New 536184
    Just don’t capitalize it or don’t make it a title. Eg “Product Management at Microsoft”. Can state the exact title in the LI description. I’ve hired dozens of people. I would never sweat this. In the Bay Area at least lots of people have never hired a MSFT person and would agree it’s a retarded naming convention and would commend you on your Bias for Action.
    Jan 22, 2018 0
  • Microsoft LKEB62
    Thanks for all these helpful replies!

    UMbR31, BDkP87, Apple - being accurate and truthful is definitely important. It’s just been disappointing (and hurtful to her career) to get stuck with recruiters. Earlier on in career, so unfortunately recruiters are still gatekeepers to the folks who understand that Microsoft Program Manager = Product Manager elsewhere in tech. Not all recruiters are careful, experienced enough with Microsoft PM candidates who don’t change their title, or have the time to check - even recruiters at great companies.

    Change title people - Good to hear it works.

    Kbz - thanks for the advice to look at other PM LIs.

    LS2xp0E - friend is applying to high quality places that are financially doing better than (or are private companies that are to many more innovative and have greater growth potential than) Microsoft. Maybe these specific recruiters aren’t doing their best work because they’re so swamped?

    BDkP87 - No, she’s not on Bing. She does set vision and wants to continue to in a Product Manager role at another tech. MSFT stock is doing well but we wouldn’t consider MSFT a high growth company. Amazon for example is listed on many high growth indexes, not MSFT so much.
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • CoreLogic / Product

    CoreLogic Product

    Product Manager
    Very common to change title to appropriately fit what’s being done.

    My textbook Product Manager role\title was recently changed to “Professional, Product Management” internally. Externally, this does nothing but raise eyebrows.

    Same with “associate” titles. Junior. You’re a Junior.
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Expedia pfender
    Just change the title, on resume and LinkedIn. My friends from MSFT have done this to avoid this sort of unnecessary explanation and it has worked well.
    Jan 21, 2018 0
  • Mitchell / Product Kbz
    I’d change the title. Then you don’t have to explain yourself. Also look at other PMs LI profiles at other companies, maybe there’s some tailoring that needs to be done with your friends resume.
    Jan 21, 2018 0