Considering a career in product management?
Updated: Jun 8, 2022
Here are some things to think about + hand-picked resources to help you get started without overwhelm
Want to accelerate your career in product roles? Learn and gain industry experience by launching products in a cross-functional team. Check out PMDojo Product Accelerator
Product management was ranked as the 4th best job in the U.S. by Glassdoor in August 2020. There are currently over 250,000 product openings on LinkedIn, and more than 18,000 job openings on Glassdoor alone.
What is driving all this hiring?
Following are some of the things we learned from talking to people in our community, which included people transitioning into the role and hiring managers:
PS: Generally, there is one Product Manager for every eight or ten engineers.
People want to work in product for these reasons:
It's a way to get into tech without having to be a developer
The beauty of being in an interdisciplinary field
Not being pigeon holed into doing just one thing
A route to a C-level executive (many high profile CEOs were PMs) e.g. Ivan Zhao (Notion)
Change the world for the better by making an impact
It pays well
Among the top reasons for hiring product people are:
Technology is changing everything around us
Businesses are becoming more digital day by day
The use of digital products is on the rise
Help companies focus on building products customers need
Avoid over-engineered or utilized products
Speed up time to market for innovation
When seeking a career in product management, ask yourself the following questions:
Before getting lost in the noise of all the books, events, courses and everything else, we have shortlisted the most important questions that people in a product role have today:
Would I enjoy being in a product role?
These are some of the attributes that make one enjoy being in a product role:
- You have high agency i.e. you can find a way to problem solve, without waiting for perfect conditions or otherwise blaming the circumstances
- You thrive in chaos and bring clarity naturally
- While you might not like ambiguity, you are comfortable with it
- You don't have to be "right" all the time
- You have a low ego but an insane amount of pride in your work
- You love to learn and believe in lifelong learning, unlearning and growing
- You are resilient and will bounce back from failures and rejections
- You are good with lateral thinking and are able to think outside the box
- You crave autonomy and are a self starter
- You enjoy collaborating with others
- You have fun solving complex problems (also called wicked problems)
- You are insanely creative and scrappy (but not lazy)
- You are self-aware and empathic
- You have a high emotional quotient (EQ)
- You are passionate as well as objective at the same time
- You use words to bring clarity to your own thinking process
- You are not afraid to ask questions
SPOILER - You don't need to be an extrovert to be in a product role. Neither is a coding or technical background a MUST
What are the steps to becoming one?
The reason you want to pursue a career in product is crucial to your success. You will be asked about it during interviews.
Reflect on what you find interesting about that role. Remember a time when you took initiative to understand and do something about a problem that you were passionate about. It may have been a particular story that inspired your own life's unique journey.
Something we discuss a lot at PMDojo Product Accelerator is how everyone who has transitioned into a product role (which most of us have) each has a unique and unconventional path to product. It is a matter of finding that unconventional path and making it unique work for us, not against us.
What certifications do I need to make companies consider me?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by people looking to transition into product management. The answer might surprise you. Check out our previous blog on "Do you really need certifications to transition into product management" to read about some of the misconceptions about transitioning into product roles. You will also get a view of how do Hiring Managers really perceive certifications.
What are some creative ways to build experience to get into the role?
There are several creative ways to build product experience and start working on your path towards product. Some of these are:
Work on a side project: It's less about the product you build and more about the problem you pick and the way you approach it that shows your product management mindset. Check out this video to learn more.
Volunteer at a startup: Check out Angel.co for opportunities
Don't just build something, but launch it in the market to your target audience. Take your side project a few notches further. Track usage or adoption and share the results
Also check out PMDojo Product Accelerator, which gives you real-world experience, immersive learning, community, structure, mentorship, and tools to succeed.
What is a daily exercise I can do to start building a product mindset?
Product mindset is a muscle that needs to be developed over time. However, this is a great and simple exercise you can do, It can take as little as 20-30 minutes. A general prompt you can use is:
🧠 Pick a product (digital or physical) that you frequently use. Now answer the following questions:
👤 Who might be the target users? Think also about people who might not be the typical target users?
🔥 Stretch Question: Is there a segment that is currently underserved that might potentially be a new target market?
🎯 What do you believe is the goal and the north star of the business? Can this be improved?
🤔 What might be some of the pain points or value drivers of the above target segment?
🔥 Stretch Question: Could you do a quick poll to identify the biggest pain point or value driver?
🧢 Think about 2-4 solution ideas. How would you prioritize so that:
- Your solutions solve the target user's pain points or maximize the value
- Your solution helps the business achieve its business goal
- Prioritize your solution idea and pick one solution and explain why
What are some resources to get started?
There is no dearth of resources available online. We are sharing with you some of the best hand-picked resources, tips, tools to help you get started.
How to use these curated resources?
If you find something useful, share it on social and feel free to tag @PMDojo and @Bosky Mukherjee and help others by sharing these
If you have any feedback, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
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What is Product Management?
The role of Product Manager by Sherif Mansoor, Atlassian
Product Manager vs Program Manager by Productboard
What does end to end Product Management process look like by Prodpad
How Asana builds products from inception to launch by Jackie Bavaro
Learn and gain real-world experience
Managing your stress as a Product Manager
Career, motherhood and burnout by Bosky Mukherjee
Product Strategy & Pricing
How to define your Product's Strategy (12 part essays) by Gib Biddle
4 common product pricing strategies by Profitwell
How to build a product roadmap by Prodpad
Asking wrong customer interview questions by Teresa Torres
How to find the north star for your product by Amplitude
Startup metrics by Dave McClure
MoSCoW method by ProductPlan
RICE for Product Managers by Intercom
Bring the donuts by Ken Norton
SVPG by Marty Cagan
Product Talk by Teresa Torres
Perspectives by Deb Liu
PMDojo Blog (don't forget to subscribe)
Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell & Jackie Bavaro
How to work better as teams
Product Management templates by Miro
How to get product and engineering teams to work like a clockwork by Chris Bee
Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
Untold stories in Product (coming soon) by PMDojo
How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
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