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How to Get a Job in Product Management: The Ultimate Guide From PM Experts
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How to Get a Job in Product Management: The Ultimate Guide From PM Experts

How to Get a Job in Product Management: The Ultimate Guide From PM Experts

Building Great Products
August 12, 2021
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10 Jogs
Why it matters?

The Product Manager role is one of the most sought after careers in the world, and getting a job in product management is challenging. The field of product management is growing and evolving quickly, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends and changes in the industry, and be prepared for both the interview process and your first few years to ensure you are successful once you have landed a coveted role.

If you want to be successful as a product manager, you need to make sure that your skills are up-to-date with current best practices—both soft (i.e. communication) and hard (i.e. technical processes and requirements) skills.

This content is a collection focused on what it takes to get a job in product management, how to ace your interview process, and what life is like for those who have already found success. As with everything in Joggo, our community of geniuses have summarized the content so you can start making efficient use of your time and choosing where to dig in further. Time management is one key to success as a busy PM!

The Content

Each link contains a summary produced by one of Joggo's geniuses so you can decide where to spend your time learning more

November 21, 2016
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Sachin Rekhi
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Sachin Rekhi

5 Paths To Your First Product Manager Role

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The Summary

Product Manager roles are highly sought after, and a wide variety of possible paths into the profession are available. Here are the top five most common paths to your first Product Manager job: - CS student from top university. PMs are often recruited from the top performing students in computer science programs at target schools.  - Engineering undergrad and recent MBA. This combination highlights the coveted combination of entrepreneurial skill and technical knowledge.  - Adjacent role. Turning another role within the company into more responsibility as a PM. - Entrepreneur. Founders have experience with the creative and technical nature of PM, plus a leadership background. - Domain Expert. Detailed expertise is an advantage when a company wants to focus on a specific area.

October 21, 2020
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Helen Huang
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Substack

5 tips on transitioning into Product Management

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The Summary

Landing a PM job is hard. However, if you’re already in the tech industry, you likely have a strong set of skills that make you a great candidate. Getting that coveted offer comes down to one question: How can you demonstrate to employers that you have what it takes, especially without prior experience?

5 tips on transitioning into Product Management

  1. Make sure you understand Product Manager responsibilities, and what your transferable skills are
  2. Try to get PM responsibilities as part of your current role!
  3. Network, network, network
  4. Apply to internal PM openings
  5. Do more than just apply – reach out to the hiring manager directly

Bonus Tip: Remember you’re an asset to your company

  • It’s beneficial to your company that they train and ultimately retain you
January 10, 2016
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Ellen Chisa
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An Intro to PM Interviewing

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The Summary

Product Management is a set of skills

  1. Basic understanding of each key area (business, design, technology)
  2. In-depth knowledge in at least one of the three
  3. A “superpower” unique to you

Guiding questions

  • General: Why do you want to get into PM and what have you learned previously?
  • Business Awareness: What do you think of the company’s business model?
    • Assess quantitative skills
  • Design Skills: Describe something you’ve built.
  • Technical Skills: logic puzzles or pseudocode questions

Ask good questions

  • Interviews often end with rejections: PM team needs to fulfill roles to balance its business and technical sides
August 8, 2014
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Bo Ren
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From Liberal Arts to Product Management

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The Summary

A liberal arts education can be more valuable than just a coding degree for a product manager; you need both technical skills and communication skills. A liberal arts degree can provide: analysis, communication, writing, and research skills.

To become a (good) PM

  • Be curious and versatile
  • Phase 1: Gather user data on yourself - know why you want to become a PM
  • Phase 2: Identify the product and sector; make sure you are passionate about both
  • Phase 3: Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your personality
  • Phase 4: Improve yourself; acquire some familiarity with coding languages in order to be taken seriously
  • Phase 5: Get the job and ship your product
  • Cater your pitch and vision to your target company.
August 15, 2016
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Sachin Rekhi
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Sachin Rekhi

How To Ace Your Product Management Interview

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The Summary

In Product Management interviews, you need a clear narrative of your professional career, including what experiences you've had and how they led you to apply for this PM role. 

Familiarize yourself with the company you are applying to

  • Understand the company’s business model 
  • Come in with feature suggestions and current featured which you think are well designed

For specific case study questions, understand the product implementation process

  • Know which metrics should be used for various product categories 
  • Know how to conduct AB testing 
  • Practice thinking critically about improving a product  Think of an app that is well designed and an explanation on why
January 14, 2021
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Parth Detroja, Christina Gee, Tech Pod
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How to Actually Break Into PM

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The Summary

Product Management internships often require prior technical experience making it difficult for non CS/ECE majors to break in. Build the right connections and practice analyzing products to get your foot in the door. 

Networking is an essential first step

  • If you don’t have a direct connection to a PM, reach out to people in companies you are interested in and ask them for advice and a reference. 
  • In order to stand out when emailing potential connections, be sure to offer them value such as analysis on the product/company they are working on. 

Practicing building products and analyzing models can prepare you

  • In order to start thinking like a PM, you can start writing case studies on different product successes or interesting failures
  • To practice PM skills, build a product you are interested in and launch it, at a hackathon or at your college.
June 14, 2019
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Lenny Rachitsky
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Lenny's Newsletter

How To Get Into Product Management (And Thrive)

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The Summary

Become a product manager if you are fulfilled by

  • Solving people's problems.
  • Driving business growth.
  • Working closely with a variety of people.
  • Developing a strategy.
  • Getting shit done.
  • Leading a team.
  • Communicating often and broadly.
  • Making decisions.
  • Creating amazing experiences for people.
  • Being organized, detail oriented, and prepared.

The four most common paths into PM roles

  • Internal transition at a large company.
  • Finding a junior PM role at a large company.
  • Joining a startup with a burning need.
  • Starting your own company.

The seven core skills to build

  • Taking any problem and being able to develop a strategy to resolve it.
  • Executing, getting shit done.
  • Communication.
  • Leadership through influence.
  • Making decisions, informed by data.
  • Building great products, and having taste.
  • Always being prepared.
August 18, 2020
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Christina Gee
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What I Wish I Knew as a Non-Technical Major Breaking Into PM

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The Summary

Technical expertise is not necessary in becoming a great Product Manager

  • Relevant experience: good at problem-solving, curious, analytical, results-oriented
  • Optimize your network to get referrals
  • Take Product Alliance course on PM to kickstart your career

Acing an interview

  • Product sense: work through an ambiguous problem and come up with product ideas
  • Execution: test your capability in day-to-day PM functions
  • Provide structure when answering
  • Build and practice your PM skills by communicating with the people around you
October 2, 2017
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Alex Valaitis
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What is a Product Manager, Actually?

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The Summary

What a Product Manager is Not

  • A Product Manager is NOT a
    • Software Developer or Engineer
    • Designer
    • Software Architect
    • Analyst or a Consultant
    • Authoritarian Figure

So what is a Product Manager, Actually?

  • A Product Manager is the Quarterback of a product
    • They do not have authoritative control over the team
    • Unlike CEOs, they are in the trenches executing with the team
    • They need to be able to work with and have the trust of the entire team

What Does a Product Manager Do?

  • There are 3 different phases that PM’s will find themselves in: Discovery, Planning and Execution
    • Discovery Phase
      • A Product Manager is tasked with finding the most important problems and defining which of them should be solved
    • Planning Phase
      • After pouring through data and spending time with customers, it is up to a Product Manager to help prioritize which products or features are worth pursuing
    • Execution Phase
      • A PM is expected to work closely with the development and design functions.
      • Once a product is built, it is important that a PM works with marketing and design to ensure that the product gets the right exposure in the marketplace
      • Lastly, a PM should be in close contact with Support/Operations to ensure that the product is functioning well at all times
April 11, 2020
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Ravi Mehta
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Ravi Mehta

Becoming A Peak Product Manager

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The Summary

There are 12 key skills each PM needs to master to become a peak product manager.

Product Execution

  • Feature Specification
    • PM needs to clearly communicate what the team needs to build and why
    • Doesn't need a lengthy spec doc but needs to communicate so team can execute
  • Product Delivery
    • Need to work with teams to turn specs into working products
    • Requires org skills, leadership savvy, attention to detail and adaptation
  • Quality Assurance
    • Poor quality is a slow and simmering issue that will push your customers away to competitors
    • Need to ensure quality products

Customer Insight

  • Fluency with Data
    • Need to dig behind the data to understand the "why" behind the data
    • Translate data into actionable learnings
  • Voice of the Customer
    • Talk to customers to understand what they need in a way that is not slow or costly
    • Can chat through multiple channels: casual conversation, customer support tickets, app reviews, etc.
  • User Experience Design
    • Emphasize interaction design as a critical phase of product development

Product Strategy

  • Business Outcome Ownership
    • PMs take responsibility for the business and understand the product's role in the business success
    • Provides team with information about why what they are doing is important
  • Product Vision & Roadmapping
    • Need to align how different features connect with each other
    • Determine when to adapt or stay the course
  • Strategic Impact
    • Develop products that are successful to the company and the customer
    • Use product to achieve company strategy

Influencing People

  • Stakeholder Management
    • Determine the best aspects of your team and rally everyone's support towards the vision
    • Willing to make the hard decisions and align everyone around them
  • Team Leadership
    • Need to operate as a coach
    • Give direct reports autonomy to succeed and not micro-managing
  • Managing Up
    • Garnering the support you need to accomplish your goals
    • Determine what your boss and leaders are trying to achieve and align work to those Use this skills framework to evaluate yourself, your teams and your hires