This article provides step-by-step instructions for anyone who wants to become a Product Manager and has not worked as a Product Manager in the past.
You might be wondering how you can break into Product Management. These are some of the questions you might be asking yourself right now:
- How do I get my first job as a Product Manager?
- Is it possible for programmers to become Product Managers?
- How can I become a Product Manager without an MBA?
- How do I get a Product Manager Job in Google?
Contrary to popular belief, becoming a Product Manager is easy, as long as you are willing to follow the steps required to make yourself a qualified candidate for the job and be willing to practice enough in order to excel in the Product Manager Job interviews.
You need to accomplish two things to get a Product Manager Job:
1. Impress the recruiter with your resume so they will contact you.
There are two ways to achieve this:
2. Impress the job interviewers.
- Internal referral: If you have a friend or if you have a connection in the company that you are applying for, they can speak highly of you and sometimes help you get a Product Manager Job interview.
- Build a product: This is the most practical way for individuals without a Product Manager Job experience to become an attractive candidate for the role that they are applying for. The best way to present your Product Manager skills is to do the tasks that the job requires. How do you do it? Use your free time to build products and work on side projects that give you a chance to play the role of a Product Manager. This may cost you money (as you might have to pay a developer to code the product which you designed), but it will cost significantly less than paying a hefty price for a Product Manager course that gives you no practical experience. When you build a product, you’ll learn to:
- Conceptualize a product
- Wireframe it
- Work with developers
- Manage the product under time and budget constraints
- QA and test a newly developed feature
- Provide specs
- Provide a roadmap
- Conduct user testing
- Find ways to attract users
These are just some of the skill sets that you will develop by building your own product. The interesting part about this list is that you don’t need to have a job to do this. You can learn all the above skills on your own and leverage your learnings to create a resume that speaks about your past experiences in dealing with some of the challenges that Product Managers deal with on a daily basis.
If you are concerned about not having a good idea to build a product, know that it is not necessary for you to have a good idea or the best idea. You can always develop a product that has been built in the past and still learn the skills listed above. Remember, your goal is not to build a product that gains traction. Your goal is to practice being a Product Manager and leveraging your learnings to have a more relevant resume.
In case you need some ideas on building a product, here’s a few you can borrow. Note that they are not novel ideas and have already been built in the past:
- An online invoicing tool
- A mobile education tool (e.g. a Math teaching app)
- A gas price checker app
- An eCommerce website or mobile app
- A fitness app
This is one of the hardest steps in your journey to obtain your first Product Manager Job. For each employer, expect to go through various interviews (in phone and in person) and be asked different questions about product design, product improvement, estimation, metrics, problem solving, technical, strategy, product launch, leadership, communication, and collaboration skills. If you want a favorable outcome, you will need to practice answering these types of questions prior to doing the interviews.
It helps to remember that recruiters are well-aware that a Product Manager Job interview is no walk in the park. In fact, Google has a policy where applicants can re-apply for Product Manager Job interviews up to three times. If you don’t make it the first time, you will just need to practice harder and apply again.
Now, there are three ways you can go about preparing for a job interview:
- Read books: There are two famous books in this space. Cracking the PM Interview and Decode and Conquer are Product Manager Job interview books you can read.
- Practice Product Manager interview questions: I have gathered a list of product manager interview questions and answers to help you prepare for job interviews.
- Mock Interviews: Find others who are also preparing for Product Manager Job interviews and practice with them. You can use the Product Manager interview questions listed on this site as your source.
I hope this article helps you obtain your first Product Manager Job.
How to prepare for product manager job interviews
How to answer a Product Design question in a Product Manager job interview.
How to answer a Product Improvement question in a Product Manager job interview.
How to answer an Estimation question in a Product Manager job interview.
How to answer an Metrics question in a Product Manager job interview.
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