Over the past decade or so, more and more women have been bringing their talents to roles in engineering, design, and product management, and many are excited about what’s happening in the tech industry because of it. We are seeing more women founding, leading and managing teams to build products that people love.
Not only does this drive diversity, this also creates a larger space for growth in the world of tech.
“Women account for an average of only 30% of employees at tech companies. That share is even lower in areas like product and technology.” – Fortune Magazine
We expect to see that number increase as the year moves on.
And thanks to women like Merci Victoria Grace, (Product Manager for Slack) and Deb Liu (Vice President of Platform and Marketplace for Facebook), who have built and are still building communities of Women in Product, we have further diversified the leaders who are motivating girls and guys everywhere to develop their tech skills.
After years of connecting in a Facebook group, last June, Deb Liu brought the community together in a full conference, sponsored by Facebook and held at Menlo Park, CA. It was a huge success. The conference brought together women in top companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce and more.
In case you’re wondering where you can join/follow these communities, or others like them, here are a few places to check out:
Your Product Manager Resume Cheat Sheet [Infographic]
When you’re going after your next product manager position, you’ll be handing out, emailing and possibly even dropping off your resume in boxes of donuts to companies all over the city and everywhere else online.
While 100+ employers may see your resume, a small percentage will read it. The important thing is to stand out.
Whether this is your very first time applying or you’re looking to move to another company, the process will be very much the same. Research – resume – wait – call – wait – interview – wait – assignment – second interview and so on. Here are some tips to make the first part of your impression stand out.
Keep it one page
There is almost never a need for a multiple page interview unless you’re applying for something government related and need to provide an in-depth history. Otherwise, stick to the one-page rule, keep it neat, clear and concise.
Objective not required
When you submit your resume to a company, they usually have a good idea of your objective. Everyone you can add in here will be demonstrated in your skills and work history, plus it will leave you more space on your one page.
Talk about value
When you talk about previous experience, connect it what the value you brought to a project or company, and concrete and convincing data. Look at the employer as one of your shareholders, and convince them the qualitative and quantitative information.
Demonstrate ownership – don’t be shy
Launched your own company? Created an app that sold thousands? Took the initiative on a project? We always say if you want to get a job in product management you have to build something. If you have, make sure it’s mentioned. Especially if this is your first application, that can be your ticket in.
Talk about the right kind of technical skills
Most employers are already confident that if you’re applying you know MS Office, and other basic computing programs. If you have coding experience, are familiar with Balsamiq or other prototyping tools, this is also good to be mentioned. If your tech background is mostly in Word, it’s probably best to leave part this off the resume for now.
Show details on your skills
Be relevant to the PM role
Leverage the experience you have that is most relevant to the position you are applying to, in this case, product manager. If it’s an app company, and you built one, make sure you mention it. If you worked in sales and it’s PM’ing for a sales tool, make sure that’s in there somewhere as well. This makes you more relatable to the industry and the employer.
Don’t rely only on your resume
Of course, your resume is not the only thing that will get your foot in the door. If you know someone in an industry, company or project you are interested in, start by asking for a referral. Check all your other networks, including LinkedIn and Twitter to use to your advantage. Make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume, update your summary and add information and skills relatable to the role of a product manager.
As of January 1st we are almost certain you have put together a few resolutions, maybe even a long list of things you plan on starting, stopping, changing and improving. If switching your career path and pivoting into product management falls on that list, here’s a few things you can do to focus on making it happen.
This is not to say that you aren’t already. But, the start of a new year always brings on a powerful wave of motivation. Take advantage of that wave and ride it out. When the calendar starts back at one and you haven’t lost any of your weekends watching Netflix, there’s an increase in intent and intensity in the air. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and there’s no better time to get started than now.
“To differentiate yourself and grow in your career, you really have to continue making small investments over a long period of time to reap the rewards. Quoting one of my mentors, ‘You got to crawl, walk, then run.’” Mohammad Musa, Product School instructor and former Google PM.
In order to get the job as a product manager, you have to start working and thinking like a product manager. This takes time to learn, read and understand. Set aside some time each week to study new tools, review product teardowns, read about the industry and learn how to talk about product management fluently.
Start Your Side Project Now
The truth is, most people who land jobs in product management have worked on some sort of side project, whether it’s founding a startup, putting up a blog or designing an app. Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, use it to build something. This will give you that outside experience of being a product manager, and give you an edge that not everyone has. It shows you’re a doer, and that you are willing and able to rise up to challenges and put yourself outside of your comfort zone. The key is to not wait.
Build your writing skills
No matter where you are in your career, it’s never too late to work on your writing techniques. You’ll need this for your side project, blog, or anything else you plan to do related or even unrelated to product management. If you’re looking for motivation check out this 52 week writing challenge.
Increase Your Network
Here’s the big one we always mention. It helps to surround yourself with the people that motivate you and that you aspire to be like. Go where you can meet other product managers, mentors, or peers also looking to get into product management. Join communities or meetups like our Slack Community. We also host events every week covering various topics from how to get a job in product management to storytelling and many more.
Best in 2016 on the Product Management Blog
Thanks to our partners, friends, and our entire community, last year was huge for all of us at Product School with the opening of two new campuses and hosting dozens of product management events.
2016 was a great year for the Product Management blog as well; our viewership increased by 56% as we shared the newest and latest content each week.
In case you missed any of our top articles, we wanted to give you a rundown of the best of so you can have them all in one place. These are great to reference, especially if you are starting to work your way into product or already have some interviews lined up. Here are our top ten articles of the past year.
This is our most popular article since we began talking about product management. We’ve sat down with product managers who have been through the interview process at Google and broke it down from the skills you need to the questions you can expect. If you’re aiming to land that dream job at this technical giant, there are also plenty of resources inside.
In 90% of the “Ask me Anything” sessions we have hosted this year, online and offline, the number one question we get is “Where can I find more information or resources to learn about product management?” This question is asked by almost everyone from the completely unfamiliar to the PM veteran. We always answer with our favorites and pass along this list, packed with everything from podcasts, blogs, books, and TED Talks. If you’re recently starting to learn, this is a great place to start.
Product management is the new “sexy” job in tech, and more and more engineers, designers, marketers and those new to the industry are becoming more and more interested in transitioning into the position. With all the hype, here we break down a few assumptions about the job Mythbusters style.
Before you secure the interview, you need to have a solid resume, which is why, at the end of our product management course, we spend at least one class focusing on resume reviews. Here are four solid hacks that will move your resume to the top of the stack. Don’t forget to stay away from clichés, and be clear and concise.
Even with all this talk about building your technical background, learning what a product manager does and how to get the job, this is what can make or break you once you’re in. It’s important to remember the things you can do on a weekly basis to make your life and lives of your team members easier, (and more rewarding).
In product management we talk about tools all the time, our students and teachers use them in practice, and it’s one of the most popular topics in our Slack Community. The tools we use even have product managers themselves, and we love them for what they do. If you’re considering moving into product management, make sure you’re familiar with most of these, how they work and why and when you would need them.
You want to launch your career in product management but are looking for that edge that will set you apart from the rest in the hiring process. Take a look at this list, complete with a resume hack that brings out the product manager qualities in anything you’ve ever done. You’ll also find one of the most talked about, and most read books by anyone who’s ever decided to make the transition.
This one was written back in July as a quick reference piece. Whether you are just starting to talk about product management, have been out of the industry for a bit, or are an engineer looking to transition and want to brush up on the lingo, this is a comprehensive list of the most widely used words and phrases in product. While you’re reading, keep an eye out for the links with even more tips on working in product from the tools used, being Scrum Master and how to manage customer development interviews.
Thanks everyone for an awesome year! Looking forward to an even better 2017.
Looking to switch into Product Management? We offer 8-week part-time courses in the evenings and on the weekends. Check out our upcoming courses at any one of our five campuses.
If you’re already working as a product manager and want to sharpen your coding skills, take a look at our upcoming Coding for Managers courses.
Product Management Events January 2017
Start the new year off right by building your knowledge and network in product management. Last year’s events were fantastic thanks to our many speakers and guests. In 2017, we only expect them to keep getting better and better. Starting off in January with events featuring hosts from Google, Twitter, Salesforce, LinkedIn and Tinder. Here’s what we have on the schedule so far:
Shiva will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and you’ll also get the inside scoop on the day-to-day work as a PM, the challenges of the job and personal insight from Shiva’s experience.
Speaker: Jesse Owens, Product School Instructor and Senior PM at MasterCard
Would you like to get a job as a Product Manager? Join us for this free open doors session to get an overview of our part-time product management course curriculum, meet the lead instructor and have the chance to ask any additional questions that you might have about what it takes to become a product manager.
Here we will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and what it takes to get your foot in the door. You’ll also get the inside scoop on the day-to-day work as a PM, the challenges of the job and personal insight from Tyler’s experience at Google, Product School and within the industry.
Speaker: Alex Shih, Director of Product Management at Planet
Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Alex Shih, Director of Product at Planet and former Head of Mobile Product at Twitter.
Host: Ashish Jotwani, Product Manager at Salesforce
Successfully managing a team can be quite overwhelming. And although you may be a great engineer that doesn’t promise that you are prepared to be a great manager. During this workshop, Salesforce Product Manager Ashish Jotwani will discuss the hard and soft aspects of managing.
Speaker: Marie Perruchet, author of One Perfect Pitch
Join our chat as we talk about the importance of telling stories around your products. Being able to tell a nice, crisp narrative around your products is key when working with various teams, clients, and stakeholders. We’ll explore the art of storytelling, why it’s important, and also tips and tricks on how to master it!
Prototype Thinking is an idea and product validation technique used by organizations like GoogleX to solve problems 10x – 100x faster. In this workshop, you’ll apply the Prototype Thinking to build a prototype using rapid experimentation. By the end, you’ll be thinking in prototypes, maximizing your rate of learning, and reducing the time to try new ideas.
Host: Ryan Glasgow, Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn
Strategy is becoming increasingly important in technology and a critical skill for product managers. As your product grows and competitors emerge, how can you sustain success? Ryan will share why strategy matters, how to create one, and best practices for how it integrates into your product development process.
Host: Samantha Stevens, Senior Product Manager at Tinder
This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Samantha Stevens, Senior Product Manager at Tinder. She will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and what it takes to get your foot in the door.
Host: Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, CEO of Product School
Would you like to get a job as a Product Manager? Join us for this free open doors session to get an overview of our part-time product management course curriculum, meet the lead instructor and have the chance to ask any additional questions that you might have about what it takes to become a product manager in Los Angeles.
Host: EJ Oruche, Product Manager in the Entertainment Division of CBS Interactive
Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with EJ Oruche, Senior Product Manager at CBS Interactive. He will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and what it takes to get your foot in the door.
Speaker: Christopher Graham, Managing Director of Nonage Ventures & Former NFL Consultant
This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Chris Graham, VP of Product at HYFN, and ex-consultant to the NFL. He will discuss what it’s like to work in this dynamic role and what it takes to get your foot in the door. You’ll also get the inside scoop on the day-to-day work as a PM, the challenges of the job and personal insight from Chris’s experience.
Speaker: Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, CEO of Product School
Would you like to get a job as a Product Manager? Join us for this free open doors session to get an overview of our part-time product management course curriculum, meet the lead instructor and have the chance to ask any additional questions that you might have about what it takes to become a product manager in Santa Monica.
How to Break into Product Management: Slack AMA with Carlos
Our community has shown a lot of love for ‘Ask Me Anything‘ themed events, which makes us thrilled about the recent launch of Product Chat, AMA sessions in our Slack Community. We will now be hosting weekly chats with product managers from Tech companies all over the world.
In case you missed out on the first one, we wanted to share a recap of what we talked about. This week’s chat was hosted by Carlos, Product School’s founder and CEO, who broke into product management from an engineering background. During the conversation he shared his insight on tactics when working in product management, valuable skills and how to get the job.
We kicked it off with a friendly introduction:
Carlos made the announcement he was online:
Then questions from our community started rolling in. Here are some key takeaways:
@edwardgordon:Can you describe some key differences between working on SaaS product targeting SMB vs. Enterprise Clients?
Yes! The biggest difference is the amount of potential customers you are targeting. There are way more small and medium businesses than big enterprises.
The bigger the user base is, the more you will want to focus on standard features that can be applied to all your customers so you can scale the product faster even if other clients won’t choose you because they need specific custom made features.
The smaller the user base is, the more you will want to focus on special features requested by your highest paying customers even if other clients won’t need them.
In both cases, your challenge as a PM is to identify and prioritize the features than can generate the highest impact to the largest amount of clients at the lowest possible cost for your team;)
@pallavi: I was wondering if you had any advice about breaking into PM roles at the entry-level, besides just applying online to positions- these positions seem hard to find!
I’ve had software engineering, design, & front-end internships, along with some exposure to product management (I was at a really early-stage startup so I had a very fluid role, which included working closely with the product manager).
Having engineering experience will definitely give you an edge when it comes to working with other engineers. However, that’s not going to be enough. If you want to become a full-stack PM, you will need to work on your design, marketing and communications skills so you can feel comfortable working with different stakeholders across the board.
Here’s some examples of different career paths to break into product management from engineering:
Engineer —> Senior Engineer —> Technical Project or Program Manager/Business Analyst/ Engineering Manager —> Product Manager
QA Engineer —> Technical Project or Program Manager/Business Analyst/ Engineering Manager —> Product Manager
Startup Founder <—> Product Manager
One of the most common mistakes in landing your first PM job is to set too high expectations. Instead, you have to asses your current expertise and map out realistic career paths inside or outside your current company. Your ideal PM job will likely not be your first PM job but ensure it is relevant to your career goal, and you are surrounded by senior managers you can keep learning from.
@benny: What are main traits of a PM?
I have a background in technical marketing and have experience in working with pre-funded startups. Would love to graduate to a junior PM role in the next couple of years.
There are a lot of product management jobs that require a strong technical background, but not all of them. It will always be helpful if you can pick up some coding skills not to become a software engineer, but to understand how things works from behind the scene. An excellent software product manager needs to understand the basics of software, and be able to have a conversation with the engineering team at a quasi-technical level.
I would definitely focus on companies that can appreciate your domain expertise while have to pick up some can definitely break do that in different ways.
Customer Support —> Business Analyst/Project Manager or Program Manager —> Product Manager
Marketing —> Product Marketing —> Product Manager
Design —> Product Design —> Product Manager
@ankitmoxford: How do you leverage an MBA and my work experience as a Business analyst for 4 years to become a PM? What additional things are needed to break into the PM world from a BA world?
Ultimately, an MBA is a great way to show recruiters that you have business acumen. However without practical experience, it leaves the question of ‘what have you built/managed?’ open to interpretation.
Here are my thoughts:
An MBA can be very valuable for networking, you can make good contacts and have fun. But, an MBA is usually best for banking and consulting.Product School might be a more efficient – and cost-effective – way to get a PM job and meet aspiring and existing Product Managers.
MBA’s are best for gaining overall business acumen. While some programs may touch upon product management, they normally do not go beyond theory. You will need to find a place to apply your education.
There are a few things that will help you break into the PM world:
Build something. Check out these side projects created by some of our students.
Find a mentor. Learn from a real-life PM or find one best practices.
@nav: How easy is it to move to a PM role without much technical background but being in technical sales for over 5 years?
It’s never easy, and that’s why it makes it so great when you achieve your goal. That being said, take a look at my previous answer about how to transition into PM from a non-technical background. Good luck!
@tomasz_szczodrowski: What conversion from application to company making contact should be reasonable, when applying for PM positions as entry candidate with QA Lead experience?
I’ve just calculated 7%, which makes me frustrated, what do you think?
It really depends on many variables such as your background, companies that you are targeting, location, etc. Getting a job is a job itself, so treat yourself as if you were the product and build a conversion funnel based on the variables that I mentioned. There are multiple steps in that funnel like phone screen, in person meeting, homework assignment, second in person meeting, job offer, etc. This way you will be able to understand your conversion rate in each step of the funnel, and where you need to focus now in order to ultimately get a PM job.
I would treat this job search process The same way the previous question was about how to break into PM from a technical background, I can guarantee that you can also do it from a non-technical background such as marketing. Actually, a lot of our students do so
In NY for example we also have a lot of management consultants, MBAs and finance people who want to break into tech, and PM is a strong option for them.