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Product managers are some of the best paid people in Silicon Valley. And successful product managers come from a range of backgrounds. So how do you go about getting into this potentially lucrative field?
A product manager combines business, technology and design in order to maximize value of a product. They need to understand users’ needs and solve their problems.
The pandemic has accentuated the importance of having a strong digital presence, making it an awesome time to be a product manager.
Secrets To Being a Successful Product Manager
Some experts argue that empathy is a key workplace skill of the future. Being about to empathize with your customers and users helps organizations create better products, services and experiences.
2. Strong Research and Analysis Skills
You’ll need to be able to collect data and draw conclusions. This is key for making informed decisions and recommendations.
Experts attribute research as the most important skill all product managers need to have. Experts recommend Research Methods For Business: A Skill Building Approach.
3. Leadership Skills
You need to be able to work well with a team, lead team meetings and delegate.
4. Organization and Time Management
Again, it’s not an easy job. You’ll be working with different teams and stakeholders all the time and you’ll need to manage your time to remain calm.
5. It’s All About the Experience
Companies aren’t focused on formal qualifications. They want you to have real life experience that will help you to succeed in the role.
You can get this experience through getting involved in projects at university, taking part in internships and from entry level jobs. Projects are the new resumes. Try to get hard evidence of the experience you have and present this to employers.
Don’t expect to start in product management at a corporate. You might struggle without prior experience. Maybe start searching for entry-level roles at smaller companies. Here you can develop your skills and get some wins under your belt.
6. Build Something
Really interested in product management? Prove it. Teach yourself some relevant skills. Learn how to code, learn some new design software. There’s a wealth of free resources available online, so what’s stopping you?
7. Nail the Interview Process
Getting recruited and getting a job are very different. You need to be able to sell yourself to the recruiter. In the position, you’ll have time to learn the skills and to adapt to the workplace.
Companies such as Nike have a six month on-boarding process and they don’t expect you to know exactly what you’re doing before you arrive, so just be keen to learn.
8. Shift From Marketing to Product Management
Like product management, marketing requires a deep understanding required of the customer and the market. Marketers understand their customers’ needs and how their products are fulfilling them.
Marketers will already have some product management skills under their belt from managing marketing campaigns, working with designers, researching and forecasting performance.
They’ll need to develop their engineering skills in order to understand the function of the teams they are working with and build a good relationship with their colleagues.
9. Shift From Engineering to Product Management
To change career paths from engineering into product management, you’ll need to showcase an interest in the customer. You could become more involved in customer-facing opportunities, even if this involves taking on some extra work.
You could also take a step towards product management by becoming a sales engineer for example, to get closer to the customer.
And with most things, it helps if you’re willing to read a lot. Start with textbooks about product management and make sure you know exactly what the role involves. One expert also recommended ‘Inspired’ by Marty Cagan as a great book about product management.
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