Many budding graduates are dreaming for a perfect career in product management. According to experts, a single clear path is not what makes a successful product manager. Infact, this specific role calls for a complete understanding of product building.
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The role and responsibilities of a product manager are extremely well-defined in any organization, which is why you probably won’t land a product manager position fresh out of college. Most fresh graduates would likely get an associate or junior product manager role if not a business analyst designation, which is most common. This means you would be working closely with product managers even if you don’t actually get to run the teams and manage complete processes like running a team and building products. Successful product managers are known to begin their career paths with research, coordination and similar duties which are integral parts of developing good products.
In order to familiarize yourself with how different types of industries actually work when it comes to product management, you can take the consulting route, which includes short periods spent working in a number of companies. This provides you with a diverse and holistic understanding of how different companies in different industries work, which in turn allows you to better understand how various kinds of products are built and the behind-the-scenes of how those companies offer services to their customers.
In case you have a specific company or sphere in mind where you want to work, it is recommended to first get any type of job in that space which will ensure value addition to your knowledge of the product itself. The job you apply for must be reasonably close to the product, such as implementation, customer support or sales as opposed to accounting. By the time you get an opportunity to actually become a product manager, you will be quite familiar with the product and you might even have a couple of ideas along the way for presenting to your team.
Most candidates often pose the question: what makes a successful product manager? There is no clear answer, but you need to do your best to make sure that people around you know about your interest in product management. These can be people within or outside your company including friends of friends and even connections on LinkedIn. Aspiring product managers are willing to ask questions and learn more about what successful product managers do in order to clearly understand what is required. This also helps you use your own pre-built projects and experience as a credibility boost which compensates for your lack of hands-on experience on the job.
There is a common perception that an education or previous experience in technology is necessary to become a Product Manager. While they are helpful to a certain extent, it is the following things that are more important.
In the earlier years, there were no clearly defined parameters to begin on a Product Manager career path. An engineer with good technological knowledge would transition to becoming the Product Manager.
Management graduates are also hired into associate product management programs by companies like Google and Facebook.
Candidates with an arts and design background also make excellent Product Managers. A designer has the empathetic attitude to customer expectations and is able to deliver refined solutions to address these problems.
Some companies have a Principal Product Manager Path. Here the Product Manager is a high-performing individual and an expert in product management. He elevates the organization's product management practice.
Other companies have a Group Product Manager Path. Here the Product Manager manages other product managers. Their product is the team and this team delivers product solutions.
Searching for a job is not a happy experience and bagging a Product Manager role requires some effort. The best job search strategy to adopt is to
Your desires, goals, aptitude and aspirations should guide you while preparing the list.
Further, you can also start adopting a Product Manager practices in your present employment and hone those skills. Then when you go for a Product Manager job interview, you can outline and highlight the proactive product management initiatives you have been applying to your old job. This will positively impact the mind of the interviewer and show your passion towards the product management career.
Boring statements and a long summary of your qualifications and skills should be avoided. Instead a great resume should highlight: