If you're fortunate enough to be a member of a team that acquires first mover advantage, it can help you to make a big splash in your next job search

You know that you have to write your resume with as many achievements as you can. When you're part of a company that has achieved first mover advantage, you should definitely include that on your resume. Explain what your role was in attaining that achievement and what it meant for your team and company. 

In this article, we'll talk about the first mover advantage, including what it is, so that you can decide whether it's appropriate to include it on your own resume. 

What is a first mover advantage?

Generating a strong brand and a loyal client base is the goal of any company. Companies that achieve first mover status are those that are the first to introduce a product or service to the market. These companies get to grab hold of consumers before other companies. By the time their competitors introduce similar products or services, consumers are already loyal to the original company. 

Only large companies have the ability to acquire first mover advantage. Coca-Cola is an excellent example of a first mover company. Coke was not the first soda to reach customers' hands; Dr. Pepper came first. While it is debatable which drink is better, Coca-Cola was the clear market winner. They had deeper pockets than the Dr. Pepper folks and were able to capture the market first. 

So, as you decide whether to include being part of a first mover team on your resume, you have to be sure that you actually were. Just because your company is the first to introduce a thing to the market, doesn't mean your company achieved first mover status. It isn't just a race to market; it's a race to win a loyal following. 

Durable first mover advantage

For the purposes of extolling your dedication to helping the company attain first mover advantage, it's important to note that there's a difference between durable first mover advantage and short-lived first mover advantage. Barnes & Noble was one of the first to market for the online sale of books, but they were eventually beaten out by Amazon. Even so, if you had any part in bringing Barnes & Noble to market, it's worth mentioning on your resume. 

When you focus on achievements, you don't have to say that the success was short-lived or that another company took over the market. A short-lived first mover advantage is just as important as a durable first mover advantage for the purposes of your career achievements. 

How do companies achieve first mover advantage?

As you talk about helping your company to put its marketing strategy into place, it's crucial to note the type of market research you carried out and any technological advantages you used. What's happening in the market is critical to the success of your company in achieving the first mover advantage. 

You'll also want to note any competitor research you performed. Some of your company's competitors may not have the technological advantages your company has. You may also find out that the competitors may be behind the times on which technologies they use. All of this will help you to navigate the market to build a successful marketing or product development strategy. Both of which will make your resume shine!

Challenging the status quo

If there's one thing that's true in life it's that the only thing you can count on is that things will change. Keeping up with the market and with what your competitors are doing will help your team and company to identify when change is needed. Anytime you're involved in walking colleagues or managers through some change, you can add that to your list of career achievements. In this case, you'd want to show how the transformation efforts allowed your company to reach the coveted position of being a first mover. 

Additional resume language when talking about first mover advantage

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are four scenarios to think about when trying to help your company become recognized as a first mover. 

  1. Fast growing markets

  2. Gradually growing markets

  3. Fast moving technology shifts

  4. Modest technology changes

When the market and technology conditions surrounding your product or service offering are moving so fast that your company can barely keep up, the probability of achieving first mover advantage is slim. However, when things are progressing slowly, your company could be presented with an advantage. 

On your resume, you can absolutely talk about identifying market and technology conditions by reviewing current and historical trends to fine-tune product or service offerings. As the Harvard Business Review suggests, it could be that technology is outpacing market conditions or vice versa. Leverage whatever knowledge you acquired when discussing the first mover advantage achievement in your resume. 

Examples of first mover companies

We already mentioned Coca-Cola, but there are a lot more companies that fall into the category of first movers. Here are some others:

  • Amazon is considered one of the most innovative companies - Forbes ranks it second among other innovators. Amazon was not the first company to sell books, but it was the first one to do it online. From there, Amazon continued to grow; it's now one of the most popular shopping places and is at war with Walmart over the title of retail giant. 
  • eBay became a first-mover in the mid-1990s with its online auction platform. It wasn't the first, but it was the most successful. 
  • Netflix is also a great example of a company that achieved a first mover advantage. Netflix hit the market after iTV, but ended up being the clear market share winner. Like Netflix or hate it, the video streaming platform is still beating out competitors like Amazon Prime and Hulu. 
  • Tesla is a recent entrant into the first mover advantage club. Tesla is redefining how people get from one place to another with the manufacture of electric vehicles. Since Teslas hit the market, other companies have followed suit with their own line of e-vehicles. Automotive giants like Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota cannot claim first mover advantage in the electric vehicle category. 

Advantages and disadvantages of being a first mover

As with anything in life, there are pros and cons of reaching first mover advantage. 


If you help your company to build a new strategy that allows them to identify as a first mover, then your company can:

  • Be recognized as the industry standard

  • Achieve brand recognition and consumer loyalty

  • Control resources by establishing the best rates with suppliers

  • Hire the best employees who are excited about a new venture

  • Make it difficult for second movers by patenting ideas and trademarking or copyrighting products

All of these advantages can be used in the language of your resume. For example, you could say something like:

  • Researched and authored new patents for ABC Widget, ensuring first mover advantage in the field of medical billing

  • Positioned XYZ Company as an industry leader by executing a go-to-market strategy, pricing tactics, and product roadmap that increased revenues by 21%

  • Built a new team of 12 Product Managers by identifying top talent and managing performance, allowing a new service to be introduced to market 6 months in advance of timeline


The cost of marketing, whether a product or service can be scaled, or the availability of appropriate production capacity can all be indicators of whether trying to achieve the first mover advantage is even worth it. This is the major reason that only large companies can be considered first movers. They are often the only ones with large enough budgets to handle the undertaking. Besides money, some other disadvantages of being a first mover include:

  • After your company spends a small fortune on getting a product or service to market, someone else can come from behind and copy what your team did

  • Some consumers are hesitant to try new things. They want to see it in the market for a while before they commit, which allows second movers to scoop them up

  • Second-movers can learn from first mover mistakes

  • Companies that go to market after the first movers have the advantage of reading consumer reviews and tweaking things that customers don't like

If you're a member of a company that didn't get something to market first, you can still write an achievement-based resume by talking about reverse-engineering an idea or fine-tuning an existing product or service to meet client demand. Here's some sample language: 

  • Identified a gap in the market for new technology offerings and championed a new system that automated processes, saving client companies hundreds of labor hours

  • Reviewed market trends and earned leadership buy-in on transforming product lines to meet demand while ensuring gross margin profitability

  • Discovered a need for a new mid-market product line and authored consumer-driven strategies that resulted in $3.5M in new attributable revenue in under 12 months

Second mover advantage

The company that you work for may decide that being a first mover isn't right for its success. Perhaps you work for a smaller company that doesn't have the resources, or maybe your company doesn't want to take on the risks associated with being a first mover. Guiding your team and company to be a second mover can still net you some great benefits on your next job search. Let's talk about some successful companies that didn't hit the market first.

Example of second mover companies

Your company doesn't have to be recognized as a first mover to be wildly successful. Some of the richest, most powerful companies on the planet were not first movers. Here are some examples:

Google has become so ingrained in our lives that it isn't just a noun; it's also a verb. However, Google was not the first search engine to hit our computers. Yahoo! and AltaVista came first. On top of that, Google Maps even replaced Mapquest for getting around. Now, Google is stationary at the top of almost every “Best Place to Work” list. 

Facebook and Instagram both showed up in our lives after the availability of other social media sites - think MySpace and Google Plus. While there are still people who stay away from social sites for privacy reasons, 36.8% of all people on Earth use Facebook

Spotify slid into the second mover spot after companies like Pandora. If you're listening to music online, chances are you're using Spotify since they now control approximately 85% of the world's on-demand music streaming market. 

Some skills you acquire when being part of a first-mover company

The first thing you're supposed to do before writing your resume is to make a list of your skills. There are a lot of skills you can list when you've helped a company to achieve first mover advantage. 

Your skills list should contain a good mix of hard and soft skills. Being part of a first-mover company allows you to list both.

Hard skills are things you know how to do from education and experience

Soft skills are traits you possess that make you good at what you do

Hard skills acquired from being part of a first mover company

Whether you're a manager, Product Designer, Marketer, or hold any number of other titles associated with getting something new to market, the skills you use to accomplish this fall into the hard skills category. Some examples include:

  • Market research

  • Data analytics

  • Project management

  • Technology skills

  • People management

Each of these skills is quantifiable and can easily be improved upon. These hard skills show prospective employers that you know how to get things done. 

Soft skills used in acquiring first mover advantage

Many employers find soft skills just as important, if not more important, than hard skills. The idea behind this concept is that hard skills can be taught more easily than soft skills. While you can improve your soft skills, often these are characteristics you either possess or don't. 

Some examples include:

  • Decision making

  • Problem solving

  • Communication

  • Time management

  • Growth mindset

Whether you're a member of a company that attained a first mover advantage or you were part of a second mover company, you have valuable skills that you can bring to a new role. Why not check that your resume shows off your contribution to a first- or second mover company by submitting it for a free resume review by our team of experts? 

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