3 Common Mistakes by Engineers Transitioning to Product Management
There is a trend of hiring managers in the software industry looking for Engineers to take on Product Management jobs, but that transition is not without traps for the ones looking to take the leap. Below are some common mistakes Engineers make when deciding to go for the Product Manager job.
1. Unrealistic expectations
Software Engineers usually aspire to land their dream Product Manager job off the bat. Instead, you should map out a realistic career path where you can progressively gain experience and acquire skills to get your dream job.
Here are some of the typical transitions that programmers go through before they become Product Managers:
Engineer —> Technical Program Manager —> Product Manager
Engineer —> Customer Support in Startup —> Product Manager
Engineer —> Sales Engineer —> Product Manager
Engineer —> Project Manager —> Product Manager
You should also remember that your first Product Management job will likely not be the ideal one, but always ensure that it is relevant to your ultimate career goal.
2. Getting an MBA
Business school will allow you to create networks with extraordinary individuals, get a global view of the business world, see problems from a different perspective, develop excellent communication skills, etc. However, at a $100K investment and 18+ months of full time classes, it is not the most efficient, cost effective or proven way to take the leap, since banking and consulting jobs still rank higher for MBA graduates than Product Management.
The alternative? You can sign up for immersive courses that last from 6-24 weeks and cover a variety of topics to help you qualify for your dream job. Just in the heart of San Francisco, there is already a handful of schools that offer affordable education and training in Product Management skills. Check Product School.
3. Over Focusing on Technical Skills
Some software engineers believe that programming skills guarantee that they’ll get a Product Manager job in the software industry, hence they think their resumes and interviews should focus in their technical background. However, the talent that wins the position is the one who is able to demonstrate a diverse background and interest in other areas of the industry.
Include some side projects into your resume, participate in MOOC like Coursera, go to meetups around town and learn from opinion leaders. All of these can help you drive the conversation to an interesting discussion around Product Management and show off your knowledge of other areas.
Whether you’re looking into changing career paths or already in the process of doing so. You should be aware that the job market for PMs is highly competitive and a simple mistake can be the difference between frustration and success.