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How to land more Product Management interviews

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Insider tips and actionable strategies to help you land interview in this market

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[originally published in 2020, republished with current 2023 research and market trends]

The job market in 2023 has been a rollercoaster, with an unprecedented 240,000 tech layoffs making it one of the most competitive landscapes since 2002.

Despite this, the tech industry is showing resilience, with a notable recovery from these layoffs and a sustained high demand for tech roles.

This trend mirrors what we're observing in the world of product management, especially within the PMDojo community:

  • 30-40 new PM roles are being posted several times a week in PMDojo community

  • Many of our members are not just actively interviewing

  • Some are even landing multiple offers in this challenging market

Yet, the reality remains stark: most job postings attract over 1000 applications in less than a day. This raises a critical question: why is it becoming increasingly difficult to get callbacks after applying?

To navigate this and fast-track your journey to landing a product management role in 2024, I've crafted a 3-part newsletter series packed with proven strategies used successfully by over 800+ PMDojo fellows:

3 components to make your jobsearch smarter
  • Part 1: How to Land More Interviews (this newsletter)

  • Part 2: How to excel in real PM Interviews

  • Part 3: How to Cold Outreach to Recruiters and Hiring Managers

Let's jump straight into this. These strategies work for both career transitioners and existing Product Managers who want to get promoted and find their next role.

Part 1: How to Land More Product Management Interviews

Here's a 5-step guide to landing your next product management role FAST:

  1. Prioritize you-market fit

  2. Understand market dynamics and you

  3. Close the Gap: Align your competencies with market needs

  4. Unsubscribe from industry myths and misconceptions

  5. Apply strategically and smartly

Let’s dive in and explore these steps in detail.

1. Prioritize You <-> Market Fit:

In the ever-evolving product management landscape, the need to align your skills with market demands has never been more crucial. Gone are the days of the "spray and pray" method in job applications – a strategy that's not only ineffective but can lead to burnout.

5 step process on how to land more product management interviews. Focus is on Step1: Prioritize you-market fit.

A recent review of over 50 product manager resumes revealed a startling trend: a sea of sameness. Each resume, finely tuned by AI, looked strikingly similar to the next, blurring any distinction. This is a glaring downside of relying too heavily on AI for crafting your resume or cover letter.

Before you inundate companies with countless applications, pause and ask: "How can I make it effortless for companies to want me on their team?"

Here are 2 examples from PMDojo community to help you stand out:

  • Break the Mold: Ditch the standard templates. Be bold. For example, Hanna, an aspiring product manager, presented her resume as a portfolio, leading to an immediate interview. A product marketing manager once pitched an entire campaign rather than just submitting a resume, capturing the marketing head’s attention instantly.

  • Think Like a Product Manager: Bosky, our founder at PMDojo, once shared that out of 800 applicants, her job application stood out because she was the only one to conduct a product teardown, despite not meeting all job requirements.

To gauge your candidate/market fit in today's market, assess these areas:

How to evaluate your candidate-market fit as a Product Manager

It is a known fact that as a candidate you need to demonstrate you are performing at the level of competencies needed for the role you are applying. The first step is to arm yourself on what competencies are needed. The easiest way is to ask your manager. Alternatively, you can work with a product coach who will guide you with industry competencies so that you can define a smart plan for your career.

  • Specialization spotlight: Identify where you shine. Whether it's user experience design, data analytics, or mastering agile methodologies, knowing your strong suits helps target roles that need your specific skills.

  • Build your personal moats: What makes you unique among your peers? It could be niche market experience, a rare skill set, or an innovative approach to challenges. Recognize these traits to set yourself apart.

  • Articulate your accomplishments: Reflect and quantify your career successes. Concrete achievements can speak louder than job descriptions, showcasing your real-world impact.

With this clarity, focus on strategically choosing opportunities – consider company types, sizes, potential colleagues, and the nature of the problems you'll solve.

REALITY CHECK: It's not about the number of applications but finding the right fit. Leverage your strengths rather than fixating on what you lack. Remember, applying to roles where you fit best is what truly counts. Don't just apply for any role, apply for the right-fit role to increases your success rate.

2. Understand how market dynamics impacts you:

Classical product management is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Just until 2-3 years ago, the role of a product manager was mostly about setting vision and strategy, prioritizing features, collaborating with teams, and analyzing market trends and customer feedback. Back then, there were clear lines dividing product management from design and marketing.

5 step process on how to land more product management interviews. Focus is on Step2: Understand how market dynamics and shifts impact you.

But as the tech industry evolves, these traditional roles are merging. Today, organizations are flattening their structures for quicker decision-making and more efficient product building and innovating, calling for a more integrated and broad approach in product management.

We asked Hiring Managers and Product Leaders recently what skills are becoming more important in this market. The shift was clear and also aligns with how product management is changing. It is not good enough to know how to ship features or products. Additionally, knowing theories, frameworks, and jargon doesn't cut it anymore.

The real world is far from the neat and tidy scenarios presented in theory. The practical chaos of the industry means that having a course or certification under your belt isn’t enough to make you job-ready.

With AI tools like ChatGPT capable of filling out any product management framework, the real question emerges: Why would companies need product managers who only offer theoretical knowledge?

In this era, it’s about being more than a bot can offer – it’s about being relevant, irreplaceable, and possessing marketable competencies and experiences. Today’s product managers need to be versatile, strategic thinkers who are in tune with their company’s unique context and growth stage.

As the tech world continues to advance, the role of the PM is evolving too. The boundaries between design and product management are blurring, and a deep commercial understanding is becoming essential for getting hired and promoted quickly. Success in product management is less about titles and more about the actual job of building products.

REALITY CHECK: There’s a misconception that hiring managers highly value certifications. Certifications alone don’t demonstrate your ability to perform or your experience in the job. What really matters is showing real-world experience and the specific competencies needed for the role you’re targeting.

3. Close the gap: market needs <-> your competencies

In the fast-paced job market of today, product managers need to bridge the gap between their skills and what the market demands. The key? Continuous upskilling, with a focus on developing full-stack skills.

5 step process on how to land more product management interviews. Focus is on Step3Close the gap between your competencies and what the market needs right now.

Look at the above competency set to evaluate where your gaps are and then double down on those. Check out PMDojo's product accelerator or coaching programs to fast track your career in product management. Fellows from PMDojo consistently get hired and promoted faster and they can be found in companies like Amazon, Meta, LinkedIn, Visa, Salesforce and others.

This means taking an honest look at where you stand in crucial areas like real experience, product and design expertise, data and technical knowledge, commercial acumen, storytelling ability, and high agency. Knowing where you fall short is the first step in targeted learning and development, which can accelerate your career progression.

REALITY CHECK: Another common misconception is to just sign up for a plethora of courses and events. While upskilling is crucial, not every course out there will serve your purpose. It’s about being strategic.

Prioritize learning that bridges the specific gaps between your current skillset and experience, and what the market is looking for. Avoid scattering your efforts across too many activities that don’t align with your career goals. Focus is key in making your upskilling efforts count.

4. Unsubscribe from the industry the myths and misconceptions:

In the realm of job searching, I've found that one-size-fits-all advice often falls short.

5 step process on how to land more product management interviews. Focus is on Step4: What are the 3 biggest myths  that keep people behind

Let's debunk 3 of the biggest myths peddled by industry “'gurus”:

Myth#1: Career pivots or breaks are shameful.

Truth: Career pivots and breaks are more common than you think and are a testament to courage. It's brave to step off the beaten path and follow your own direction.

Myth#2: Get a PM certification to impress hiring managers.

Truth: Certifications show interest, not experience or capability. They're a start, but not a guarantee of consideration.

Myth#4: Reach out to recruiters and hiring managers only when you’re ready to switch jobs.

Truth: If you're planning a job switch in 2-6 months, start networking now. A well-crafted cold email (see 5 of our best templates here) or DM that shows your understanding and approach to a problem they’re facing can set the stage for future conversations.

REALITY CHECK: Doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is not smart. If you feel like you are not getting results, you will want to change what you are doing. There’s a fine line between getting noticed and influencing decisions. Do the latter to get results faster.

5. Apply strategically and smartly:

Once you're prepared, it's time to apply, but do it wisely.

5 step process on how to land more product management interviews. Focus is on Step5: Apply strategically to smarten your job search

The last thing you want is for your application to get lost in the sea of 1000+ others. At PMDojo, we've observed five effective methods our fellows use to stand out:

Apply to the right roles:

As a candidate, it is important to apply for the roles you are able to demonstrate the required competences needed by the market. We discussed this above. Transferable skills help but not always especially if there are critical experiences and skills that are missing. Refer to the the most in demand competencies in this market above.

Build on your confidence:

It is imperative that you feel confident and this often needs some inner work to get past the self doubt. Job search journey can feel long and lonely. Every rejection and ghosting can lower your confidence. You are the only one who can advocate for your self first. Only then, others will also feel confident about seeing that potential in you.

Referrals are gold:

They're 15 times more effective than a standard online application (The Muse). The best referrals often come from higher-ups (e.g. your previous managers, senior leaders, hiring managers in the industry) who have firsthand knowledge of your work and can speak about your work strongly.

This is a commonly seen in PMDojo, where hiring managers get to witness our fellows’ thinking and working process. This underscores how crucial your professional relationships can be in your career journey.

Don't just send a connection request, build your relationships. Build your trust jar. Relationships are the tru currency and it goes both way.

REALITY CHECK: Cold referrals are easy to get but in reality hardly effective. Instead, having someone who can speak about your work and has seen your work introduce you to the hiring manager can be extremely effective.

In Summary

Securing a product manager role in today’s market is absolutely achievable with the right approach and determination. It all begins with getting callbacks and landing interviews.

To effectively and quickly receive interview invitations, remember to:

  • Prioritize Mou-Market Fit: Align your skills with market needs.

  • Stay Informed About Market Dynamics: Understand how they affect job seekers.

  • Bridge the Skill Gap: Align your competencies with market demands.

  • Challenge Industry Myths: Don’t fall for common misconceptions.

  • Apply With Strategy: Be smart and intentional in your applications.

Take Vinila's story, for example. She received 3 product management offers and accepted a role at an AI company within just five weeks of joining PMDojo. During her time with us, she collaborated with a diverse team to develop a new product for a health tech company in our Industry Track. Her success is a testament to the efficacy of these strategies.

What’s Next?

In these uncertain economic times, your career path can still be secure and progressive.

There’s an overload of misguided advice and overhyped strategies online. You’ll find one article suggesting resume improvements, while another advocates for AI-led negotiation tactics. But remember, a resume alone won’t land you your next product role. Nor will case studies, side projects, or certifications suffice.

Instead, reframe the challenges you encounter. Find a supportive community that will elevate and champion you. If your current approach isn’t yielding results, it’s time to pause and adjust. Repeating the same actions and expecting different results is futile.

Looking to turbocharge your career in product management? Check out these PMDojo programs designed to make getting hired and promoted easier:

  • To Transition Into Product Management: Apply to our Product Accelerator for real-world experience, mentorship, community support, and career resources. Spots fill up fast for our cohorts.

  • For Job Search/Interview Prep: Consider our 1:1 or group coaching to gain insights and live feedback from the perspective of a hiring manager.

Best of luck on your journey, and I look forward to seeing you in Part 2 of this series

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