So, you’ve discovered that your dream career is in product management. Well, if you like solving people’s problems, working with tech, and strategizing, you’re made for it.
Now, how do you go about starting your career in product management?
Read on to find out!
What is product management?
First, let’s define product management. When you participate in product management, you are not making any individual product. That’s what product development undertakes.
What a product manager does, however, is discover what customers currently want. In fact, a manager tries to find out what customers want in the future. The manager then presents the findings to product developers. The developers then start making the product.
Of course, the role of a product manager doesn’t stop there. You work closely with the development team to make sure that they translate your vision correctly. The product has to address your customer’s pain points fully.
But at the same time, you have to make sure the product helps your company’s bottom line. You can’t just create something that won’t make your bosses any money.
As this article says, the core of product management is going through endless product possibilities while balancing two things. One is being able to deliver value to the customer while the other is meeting the company’s goals and keeping within its constraints.
What are some typical product management roles?
Not all product managers come from the same background. That’s the reason why there are different types of product managers, such as:
Customer-Focused Product Managers
These managers have a background in sales or customer support. They focus on the product and how it will meet customers’ pain points.
Business-Focused Product Managers
These managers have sales or sales management backgrounds. Their focus is not only on developing the product but also funding the development and improving the product.
Technology-Focused Product Managers
These managers have IT or software engineering backgrounds. They look more at how a product is developed and less at what it is or how it helps customers.
Design-Focused Product Management
These project managers are those with backgrounds in product design or development. They tend to be in charge of a product’s design, how it works, and how people feel after using it.
Your role as a product manager will depend on your own unique background. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need a tech background to be one.
Read this article on Product manager job titles and hierarchy to discover more insights on Product Management Careers.
What are the required essential skills of a product manager?
You might be wondering what particular skills you need as a product manager. What are the skills you should emphasize in your resume with picture template?
Well, the answer is that you need both technical and non-technical skills.
Communication. You’ll need both writing and speaking skills to communicate well with your team, whether they’re product developers or designers. You have to articulate what they need to create clearly. And of course, this includes why the product is necessary and what problems it solves.
Organization. As a product manager, you need to be very organized. You’ll absorb plenty of details in a short amount of time. So, you need to implement a system that helps you stay on track and keep up with critical information.
Creativity. Although you won’t be the one making the product itself, you still need to be creative. Creativity will help you think of new ways to serve your customers, as well as how to communicate better.
Strategy. You need long-term goals in mind when you come up with a product. That means you should already have a strategy in place before communicating with your team. Remember, your end product should be something both your customers and your company appreciates.
Analysis. If you don’t know how to analyze data, you won’t know how well you’re doing your job. You also won’t know how your team is performing or if your idea of a quality product is actually practical.
Product Lifecycle Utilization. Just as a baker must have her recipes well planned out, so should a product manager. Improperly managing the process can lead to disastrous results. That’s where the product lifecycle comes in handy. It chronicles the stages of product development and the crucial considerations in each.
Management of Product Release. As a manager, you’re required to oversee product releases. You need to make sure that everyone on the team understands the goal of the product. Product updates are also considered a release.
Product Design Skill. You need this skill, even if it’s just a general understanding. Why? Well, if you don’t have any product design knowledge, you might hinder your product developers. You might demand from them something impossible. Having a realistic plan will save you time, even if you’re just in the planning phase.
Product Strategy Development. You’ll also work on product strategies. Your strategies should describe your customer and how the new product will succeed. You must create clear and concrete plans to build the product.
Creation of Value Proposition. If you can’t differentiate your product from competitors, why make it in the first place? This is where creativity comes into play. Think of how your new product can meet the needs of your ideal customers.
How do I find jobs in product management?
Here are four paths to kickstart your product management career:
Transition internally at your company. If you are already working in a company, this is the easiest and quickest route. Of course, it’s even better to have the skills mentioned above. It also helps if you have a manager willing to recommend you for the role.
Find an open junior project manager role. Look for companies that offer this role. If not this specific job role, look for internships. Single out companies you want to join. Whether you land an internship or a long-term position, the goal is to demonstrate your capabilities.
Join a startup that needs a product manager. A startup may not pay a lot, but that’s not the point of joining a startup. Focus on making connections with the founders and fellow workers. Aside from that, show how hard you can work. Deliver successful results whenever you can. Since it’s a startup, you’ll learn a lot as you work. It might get tiring, but you’ll get to practice all the skills you need to become a successful project manager.
Start a company. This may seem like a drastic measure, but hey, it can work. If you want to be a product manager, there’s no better place to start than at your own company. If companies don’t offer you the role, then give it to yourself. There are many companies where CEOs are also project managers. Again, it’s likely challenging, but when you succeed, it’s worth it.
Network. You never know who in your network is looking for a product manager. Well, you never know until you ask! Check out your connections on LinkedIn. Even if you don’t know them personally, message them anyway. They might be willing to give you a chance.
One last thing to remember — do not compare
As you may notice, there are many things to consider when mapping out your product management career. However, one thing you should not do is compare your map or journey to others. After all, it’s your own personal career map to follow.
Also, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to careers — or to pretty much anything in life. You can certainly take inspiration from others in your field. However, what may have worked for them may not work for you.
In short, find what works for you. Then stick with that. And remember to be flexible — things may happen that aren’t according to your plan. But if it’s going to be beneficial for your career dreams, roll with it!