The Power Of The Individual Contributor
The advice that I would have wanted in my earlier days as a product manager would have been mostly about staging the right runway for my career. How can I set up the most impact? And deciding that its also okay to not aspire to people management, Hunter said.
What Hunter made clear is that a traditional promotion into upper management doesnt necessarily mean youre about to make a great impact.
Making an impact can happen at any stage of your career, and its not a zero sum game.
Is trading in for title and seniority better? Maybe not. Being at the top of the food chain at a crappy startup may not outweigh leading one product at a large, established company, Hunter explained. If someone is trying to evaluate the right next step in her career, considering the type of exposure and the type of problem theyre solving can be a good measure of success or incentive.
Hunter encourages product managers to figure that answer out for themselves. When you ask yourself what type of impact or scope you want to have in your career, therein lies the direction you should take.
To manage or not to manage? That is the question.
The good news is there is no wrong answer. So give up on the Hamletian dilemma.
In fact, there are many prominent leaders in tech, not just Hunter Walk, who tout the power of being individual contributor, even when they were once the CEO of their own company.
How Can You Gain Experience That Covers Breadth And Depth
Not having direct product management experience is the Achilles heel for those looking to transition or grow as a Product Manager. One of the best reasons for this broken process can be explained as:
“Itâs a challenge to get that first job. Itâs hard because you can only learn PMâing by doing the job, by apprenticing. And companies donât want to take the risk on you if you havenât shown you can do it.” – Ken Norton, Product Leadership Coach
While you cannot change our previous background and experience, there are a number of ways for you to start building some experience:
Learn how to package your previous skills to match what product roles require
Strategically work on side projects that will allow you to demonstrate product sense. Remember that not all side projects are equal
Launch a live product in an environment that mimics the real world
Get internships and/or apprenticeships with companies
Move internally within your company
Watch the video below where our Founder, Bosky talks about how Product Managers need to think about side projects with Diego Granados, Sr. Product Manager at LinkedIn:
Many Fellows who join PMDojo share that the biggest advantage they have is the breadth and depth of industry experience they gain in the program. A number of Fellows use their PMDojo experience to explore the multitude of roles that exist in product teams to position themselves uniquely for opportunities. Check out a glimpse of the PMDojo curriculum here.
What Is A Product Manager
A product manager is a professional who oversees all aspects of a product, software, or service, from its design and development to its launch and maintenance. A good product manager understands how to communicate the vision of a product to internal employees and execute a product strategy to deliver value to customers.
The role of a product manager is to ensure the product meets the needs of its target audience and the objectives of the company making it.
While there are many responsibilities of a PM, the key function of a product manager is deciding what to build with the objective of helping the business and its customers.
There are two main considerations to be made in the prioritization of what’s built: the likelihood of maximizing customer value and business impact. The product manager must optimize both of those areas to generate the most value for the business. Ideally, this leads to products that are useful to the consumer and profitable for the company.
The PM is also a key player in the product development and management teams. They’re in charge of distributing information and making sure everyone is clear on their objectives. In product management, it’s important to meet deadlines, so PMs need to be proficient communicators with strong leadership skills.
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What Makes For A Successful Product Manager
There are many theories as to what makes a successful product manager. Generally, product management is a balancing act between technical know-how and people skills.
Having a deep understanding of technical skills and soft skills, as well as the ability to work with cross-functional and engineering teams, is crucial.
Product managers are not lone wolves on whom all things rise or fall, Robertson explained. They sit at the confluence of a tight team of product designers and engineers, and are connected to a broader community of stakeholders, customers, and users.
“Product managers are not lone wolves on whom all things rise or fall.
What Are The Commonalities And Differences Between Engineering And Product Management Work
Product managers and engineers have a similar goal in that they both want to produce a great product to meet their customers needs. There is deep collaboration between the two and of course both roles are part of the overall product team. Both roles need to have customer empathy, understand that they win as a team, and work with as peers. Keep in mind that todays product management is heavily integrated into the development lifecycle.
The difference is that each discipline plays a distinct role in how customer problems are solved. Product management defines product requirements while engineering fulfills them. Product managers focus on the why and what and engineers focus on the how. In addition,product managers ensure that product goals are aligned with the broader organizational strategy and also define how to measure success of the product. Engineering takes all of this information and uses complex technology to build solutions.
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How To Make Your Product Manager Resume Stand Out
If there was only one thing that you could change in your product manager resume to make it stand out from the crowd, it would be showcasing a history of results.
Results in the product world can come in many different shapes and forms: leading teams, shipping features, establishing product operations, being the glue that ties together the different stakeholders.
The one thing these examples have in common is that they demonstrate very clearly the positive impact of your actions towards the growth of a product and, therefore, of business success. You do not need to have had a formal first experience with a Product Manager title to be able to display that on your resume!
Think back to previous work experience, experience working in teams during your studies, or even any extracurricular activities you might have taken part in. What role did you play? What were the characteristics required to play that role? More likely than not, those skills will be transferable to your resume.
Now imagine that you need your resume to help you cross a chasm between two careers that seem quite unconnected: hospitality and tech. One very nice way to help any previous experience to work in your favor is to present it as industry knowledge, or subject matter expertise.
Heres an example: Youre a former flight assistant who decides to apply to a product manager position at a tech travel company like Skyscanner or Momondo.
Developing Core Pm Competencies
Enough of motivational quotes on following your passion! Studies reveal that people who follow their passions have lower odds of accomplishment than people who leverage existing career capital when making a career pivot. You need a smack-in-the-forehead obvious skills to become a product manager whos irreproachable.
Building on your career capital, be it your skills, connections or credentials, lays a stronger foundation for a role as robust as a product managers. Diversify yourself to company needs like a chameleon! You will commence multiple tasks: running designs, road map planning, success tracking, assessing loopholes, customer interaction, harmonizing to the market needs and others. How quickly you manage and adapt to this role with your career pivot determines the longevity of the product and your career. Mastering the core competencies will lead you to better calculated risk management and avoid reckless moves you dont want during your career pivot. Product management isnt a stencil job every PM caters to the company and product needs, and the vital skills come with practical knowledge, case studies, and interaction with industry leaders.
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Build Your Product Management Portfolio
In addition to learning the necessary product management skills, you also need to demonstrate these skills to potential employers.
You can do this with your very own product management portfolioa website which showcases projects where youve taken on the role of product manager .
To build your product management portfolio, youll need to turn your projects into case studies and host them on your own website. A portfolio is also an excellent opportunity to share a little bit about who you are, your previous experience, and why youre a great product manager.
As already mentioned, the best product management courses will include practical projects which you can put straight into your portfolio. And the best of the best courses will show you how to build your portfolio, too.
To get an idea of what your product management portfolio could look like, here are some examples:
Is It Difficult To Become A Product Manager
Yes, it can be. Although the position is open to graduates from different departments, it requires further education and training in the industry you want to work in. But if youre ready to work on your people skills and technical skills, you do not need to worry about your background. While 72% of product managers have bachelors degrees, only 17% have masters degrees.
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Presenting Altunis Advanced Product Management Program
In this 2-month long, well-rounded program,
At the end of it all, you’ll have the tools needed to transition to Product Management and become a successful Product Manager!
How Can You Gain Knowledge In The Craft Of Product Management
There are thousands of resources from books, podcasts, events and courses available to learn about Product Management. While they are a good starting ground for an aspiring Product Manager, candidates find themselves overwhelmed with all the information. Equipped with theoretical knowledge, they find themselves back at the crossroads where they are unable to cross the chasm of having prior “experience” as a product manager. If you are someone who wants to stand out as a high potential candidate, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Get access to some of the free courses and materials already available
Identify a problem that exists today and try solving it. Launch a product
Shadow a Product Manager at your company and ask for small tasks to help out
If you are someone who learns best in an immersive environment, consider joining PMDojo. Unlike other courses and boot camps that focus on theoretical and tactical learning, PMDojo prioritizes giving its Fellows the opportunity to build the traits, human skills, end-to-end knowledge and real-world and industry experience in a product role. It is also important to remember the following insights from Hiring Managers:
There is no industry-recognized certificate in product management
Hiring Managers do not look at certifications
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What Is The Best Way To Break Into Product Management
Ive been entertaining the idea of a career change over the last year, and Product Management is an area that interests me greatly.Im just not entirely sure how to move across without damaging my existing salary to extensively, and also without knowing how transferable my skills are. How did you move into Product Management? au.linkedin.com/in/aidanabradley.
The third way to get in product management is near and dear to my heart. After awhile, the CEO decided to take a chance on me and let me try my hand at the product side of things. If you are driving results and have built trust across the organization, you have a good chance of being considered for a role in a new department. Even product.
All too often people say they are interested in product management but cannot point to a URL of a project they worked on. There are countless resources out there to learn how to code, design, tackle customer development, validate your idea, and ultimately launch a living, breathing product. Even if your product only reaches a handful of users, building something from scratch sets you apart drastically. Do not worry about how complex or marketable the product is- the goal is to get your hands dirty with product development.
Take The Next Step: Explore A Top Program
If youre ready to take your career to the next level by elevating your product management skills, consider exploring top programs to find the right fit.
The online Master of Professional Studies in Product Management is designed as a five-step experience for learners to build the knowledge, methodologies, competencies, and relationships to lead the product life cycle from discovery to delivery.
According to Green, learners who complete the degree at University of Maryland are able to:
Visit the program page and fill out the Learn More form to gain additional insight into the program, including coursework and application requirements.
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What Were The Easiest And The Hardest Parts Of Making The Switch
Typically product managers who have been engineers have a pretty easy time working with engineering. They know engineerings expectations and how to communicate with them. This is even easier if the product manager was already working with the team and the product. On the other hand, it can be a real challenge to let go of being the technical lead. You can no longer dictate what the technical solution should be and you must trust your engineering team to create the solution. You must use the language of the customer instead of the language of engineering. And your work is no longer clearly scoped and well understood it can be very vague. Getting used to all of this can take time.
There is high demand for product managers, so its relatively straightforward to find many different opportunities. However, even with a lot of options, product management roles are highly competitive. It can be difficult to actually land an interview. Product management draws many talented people, so when you find an interesting role youre not guaranteed to get it. You may not have enough experience to initially get past recruiters.
Once on the job, the ambiguity that comes along with product management, learning what a product manager actually does, upskilling, and setting boundaries so you dont become burned out are all challenges faced when switching to product management.
Online Product Management Course By General Assembly
Whether you want to study intensively over a short period of time or at a steady pace alongside your job, General Assemblys online product management course offers an immersive and practical route into the field.
If you opt for the full-time pace, youll attend online classes for a week . If you choose the part-time course, youll attend four hours of classes spread over two evenings a week, over the course of ten weeks.
Whichever format you go for, youll learn the most in-demand product management skills with a focus on Agile best practices, stakeholder management, and data-driven decision-making. Youll also complete a practical project as part of the course, giving you your first case study for your product management portfolio.
The General Assembly product management course costs $3,950 USD with a range of payment plans and financing options available.
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How To Become A Product Manager At Your Current Company
Becoming a product manager can be a bit of a catch-22 because most PM roles require prior experience as a product manager. However, you can find valuable opportunities that can prepare you and strengthen you even if you don’t work in your product team yet.
Keep solving problem after problem. That’s what I did to become a PM at HubSpot. I was previously in the service team but successfully made the shift to product management. If you work at a firm that also has a product management team, you can do the same thing I did and apply internally.
Here’s my best advice for becoming a product manager and best prepare for the role.
Career Path Of A Product Manager
Whether youre an aspiring or a current product manager, you certainly have wondered how your role will look 5 to 10 years down the line. In this article, we will explore how ones PM job responsibilities and compensation evolves as they climb the rungs of the PM career ladder.
Executive Level Director & Vice President Product management is an ever increasingly popular role. Whether youre an aspiring or a current product manager, you certainly have wondered how your role will look 5 to 10 years down the line. In this article, we will explore how ones PM job responsibilities and compensation evolves as they climb the rungs of the PM career ladder. Your First PM JobThere are typically 2 ways folks find their way into product management: through an Associate Product Management program or by making a lateral move to product internally within their company. APM programs provide college new grads and early-career professionals the chance to break into product management. The original APM program was developed in the early 2000s by then-Google product manager Marissa Mayer. At the time, Google needed some way to recruit the raw talent it couldnt obtain from industry hires. Since then, other companies have adopted their own APM programs similar to Googles. Many thousands of applicants apply each year. As you can imagine, APM roles are very competitive .
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