I enjoy learning and sharing about Product, Agile methodologies & Scrum. Currently working as a Prod
This article is Part 3 of the ongoing series From Zero to Product Manager. A set of articles that help you transition to a Product Management role. In this post, I provide tips to look for jobs and prepare for your interview.
If you read part 1 and part 2 of my ongoing series, you hopefully now have a good understanding of the Product Manager position, and the first steps needed to transition to this role. Now, let’s have a look at how to optimize your job seeking and nail your interview.
(Image credit: mips.com)
1) There are plenty of places to find product manager jobs
When looking at job offers, you need to think out of the box. There are non-traditional places to find roles, the standard job portals, and finally, the online communities. I list a series of examples for each category.
1.1) Non-traditional way
Transfer internally: remember, it’s the easiest way! No matter how you hate your company or job, switching to a Product Management role within your organization, even for a few months, allows you to get the coveted PM experience that recruiters are seeking.
Graduate Programs: Beginning as an Associate Product Analyst or Business analyst is a phenomenal alternative to start your career
Personal network: It’s sometimes tough for companies to recruit people, so they usually have a referral program. Referrals allow skipping a few of the steps of the recruiting process, such as CV screening. Don’t be afraid to ask, remember most of the people would get money (the amount depends on the company) if you get the job. It’s a win-win situation.
1.2) Online Job portals:
Linkedin: This is a reference for any digital role
AngelList: Valuable for job-seekers looking to work at startups
1.3) Online Communities
Hacker news forum: This is the news section from Ycombinator, Product Managers are very active in the forums.
(Image credit: TechCrunch)
You finally found a few job offers that sparks your interest. Follow two simples rules to make sure you get noticed.
2.1) Apply where your strengths are: apply to a type of PM that best matches your skillsets. Take a job that you are capable of doing now (not an aspirational job), so you gain valuable experience. Although it might not sound ideal, taking a PM job that suits your previous experience could be your best bet to “get your foot in the door” as a PM. From there, you can move to other PM roles more easily.
2.2) Put in the work to stand out: I already mentioned the fantastic website from Hardip. There are other alternatives to stand out. You can find many examples within the internet about candidates going the extra mile: the one that did user research for Uber and then messaged employees with his findings to draw attention. If you would like to do the same, make sure that you follow a clear structure of research, stating the problem, offering a solution to prove your PM mindset.
“I spent a bunch of time thinking about how I could bring something to the table that they hadn’t seen. I ended up sourcing feedback from everyone I knew who rode Uber regularly. I sent them a quick survey — what did you love, what did you hate. Then I consolidated the results, found patterns, and built out a deck. I found as many emails as I could at Uber, and I sent it to everyone. They must have thought I was crazy, but it worked.” cultivatedculture
The interview process for Product Management positions can be long and painful. It usually consists of two to three steps:
3.1) Recruiter: First, a discussion with a recruiter or HR specialist: This is just the screening phase where you need to show your motivation and prove your PM knowledge.
3.2) The Case: Then, they might send you a home test. In these challenges, make sure to ask pertinent questions to show your strategic thinking. Do research not only on the company but also its competitors as competitors launch can affect your roadmap. Demonstrate your PM mindset; I have repeated that at least ten times over in this article, but this is a crucial piece. Your answer has to be structured: define the problem correctly, present a set of solutions, determine the metrics that you use to select one solution, detail the expected results. Gain extra points by acknowledging extra variables that affect the outcomes.
3.2) Interview with a PM: The final step is usually a follow-up interview with a PM or the CPO depending on the size of the company. In this interview, they can go through the case to understand your reasoning process and assess your PM mindset. Interviewers might also go through a real case scenario and ask you what you would do in a specific situation: always try to ask relevant questions, to make sure you understand the problem correctly, and to provide an answer that is backed by data. Finally, interviewers can assess how you will adapt to many tasks for the role.
(Image credit: Forbes)
Congratulations if you made it this far! I hope this article helped you to switch to a Product Manager position. If you are interested to learn more, make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the From Zero to Product Manager series.
Please let me know in the comment section if there additional tips that you would find useful. And don’t forget to check my other posts about Product Management and Agile Methodologies.