How to get that next Product Manager Job

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How to get that next Product Management job! By
Shreyas Dosh at SVPMA Monthly Event March 2010

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How to get that next Product Manager Job

  1. 1. HOW TO GET THAT NEXT PM JOB Shreyas Doshi Product Manager @ Google http://twitter.com/shreyashttp://shreyasdoshi.typepad.com 1
  2. 2. Goal:actionable steps that willincrease your chances ofgetting the right product management job 2
  3. 3. Disclaimer: Opinions and ideasexpressed here are my own. They don’tnecessarily reflect theviews of my employer 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. 3 key lessons learnedfrom hiring and getting hired: 5
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. 1. building credibility before you even walkthrough that door => priceless 7
  8. 8. 2.PM roles usually require prior experience: the catch-22 8
  9. 9. 9
  10. 10. 3.job hunting makes you smarter 10
  11. 11. So, what are hiringmanagers looking for? 11
  12. 12. take a step back:what does a product manager do? 12
  13. 13. Marty Caganthe product manager is responsible for discovering a product that is useful, usable, and feasible 13
  14. 14. Shreyas’ addendum: 14
  15. 15. the 5 essential attributes of PMs: 15
  16. 16. 1.has product sense 16
  17. 17. product sense = the ability to usuallymake the right productdecisions - both macro and micro 17
  18. 18. 2.is smart 18
  19. 19. 3.gets things done 19
  20. 20. 4.is a culture fit 20
  21. 21. 5. has technical skills technical skills =has domain expertise +understands technology 21
  22. 22. Good PM1. has product sense2. is smart3. gets things done4. is a culture fit5. has technical skills 22
  23. 23. the search: 23
  24. 24. where to look for PM jobs 24
  25. 25. the usual places... btw, LinkedIn workspretty well for PM jobslook and apply for new positions every day 25
  26. 26. start-up job search tip use crunchbase 26
  27. 27. Read more at:http://bit.ly/startupjobs 27
  28. 28. start a blog if you don’t have one 28
  29. 29. the accidental A/B test 29
  30. 30. 30
  31. 31. 31
  32. 32. A: more interesting conversations,references to blog posts, higher success rate 32
  33. 33. B: lower success rate 33
  34. 34. but, I can’t think of any topics to write about 34
  35. 35. observation: compared to other fields, theresalmost no info. on theweb on the practice of product management 35
  36. 36. 36
  37. 37. the search:transitioning into product management from other roles 37
  38. 38. first, be sure that you’llenjoy product management 38
  39. 39. 39
  40. 40. 40
  41. 41. talk to at least 8 productmanagers about the good and (especially) the bad 41
  42. 42. still want to do this PM thing? 42
  43. 43. splendid.so what is the best place to go to become a PM? 43
  44. 44. wrong answer:business school 44
  45. 45. don’t fall for the deferred life plan the “MBA first, PM next” mindset is harmful 45
  46. 46. Xan MBA degree is not anescalator. its a door-knob 46
  47. 47. confirm if your MBA expectations are realisticspend at least 20 hours with the best, free career research tool on the planet 47
  48. 48. ? 48
  49. 49. 49
  50. 50. 50
  51. 51. what is the best place to go to become a PM? 51
  52. 52. right answer:your current company 52
  53. 53. get hands-on PM experience at your currentcompany. get the skills and perspective you’ll need forpeople to take you seriouslywhen you apply for PM jobs How? 53
  54. 54. observation: PMs are super-busy people and can always use help from capable co- workers 54
  55. 55. 1.approach your PM - offer to help outbe specific about what you’ll do, for how long, what the goal is 55
  56. 56. 2.shadow PMs at their core team meetings 56
  57. 57. 3. you already work on aproduct. become the biggest source of ideas for that product. implement them become “hard to ignore” 57
  58. 58. wait... this is too much workisn’t there an easier way? 58
  59. 59. its about being resourceful which is a key quality of PMsso treat this as a test of your PM-suitability 59
  60. 60. 4. take a (good) PM class.esp. useful for learning the PM vocabulary for your future interviews 60
  61. 61. do this for at least 6 months highlight this experience during your job search more doors will open for you now 61
  62. 62. the resume: 62
  63. 63. 1.the Summary is important for the go/no-go decision keep it short and real if you have technical background, mention it 63
  64. 64. remove the buzzwordse.g. fortune 500, synergies, C-level, CxO, product management executive, team player, cross- functional, strategicallystrategizing the strategies.. 64
  65. 65. impress with facts, not with big words that make you look important (because they don’t) 65
  66. 66. Bad: a visionary productmanagement executive with vast strategic experience driving operationalefficiencies at Fortune 100 enterprises with C-level visibility 66
  67. 67. ?? 67
  68. 68. Better: 5 years of experience building enterprise monitoring products forcompanies such as IBM, HP, Applied Materials.Products generated morethan 200 million revenue 68
  69. 69. 2.Don’t write everythingabout your product and everything you did 69
  70. 70. three bullet points max: 70
  71. 71. 3.include hooks - things thatpique the reader’s curiosity and become conversationpoints during the interview 71
  72. 72. e.g. 72
  73. 73. 4. include links e.g. info about your product, or link to theproduct itself, or even your blog posts 73
  74. 74. radical idea - include asmall screenshot of yourmost important product 74
  75. 75. 5.clearly highlight career winse.g. promoted to Group PM within X years, given Y additional responsibility 75
  76. 76. the interview: 76
  77. 77. the 3 types of PM interview processes 77
  78. 78. 78
  79. 79. 79
  80. 80. 80
  81. 81. the categories of questions in PM interviews: 81
  82. 82. 1.product-sense questions 82
  83. 83. 2.product management basics 83
  84. 84. e.g. what does a PM dowhat are the key challenges of the PM job how to prioritize features 84
  85. 85. 3.process-related 85
  86. 86. e.g.how to manage a complex launchhow to deal with a difficult team member 86
  87. 87. 4.past projects or products 87
  88. 88. e.g.why did you choose X over Y how did you deal with Z failure 88
  89. 89. 5.brain teasers/problem- solving 89
  90. 90. e.g. Joe’s weight: 140 lbsweight of each stone: 5 lbs how can Joe get 3 stones across a bridge that canonly take 150 lbs of load? 90
  91. 91. 6.domain expertise 91
  92. 92. e.g. how is company Xpositioned vs. company Y what are the 4 key painpoints for customers in our vertical 92
  93. 93. 7.understanding of technology 93
  94. 94. look familiar? 94
  95. 95. 95
  96. 96. on technical questions: observation: engineeringusually has huge say in the hiring decision 96
  97. 97. you must be able to explain the basics of the technologies your product depends on 97
  98. 98. e.g. for consumer-internethttp, ssl, dns, html, ajax,javascript, cookies, GET, POST, web servers, .... 98
  99. 99. bad idea: saying “i am a business person. next question please”as a PM, technology is your business 99
  100. 100. on product-sense questions: e.g.your favorite product and why compare facebook and twitter 100
  101. 101. 101
  102. 102. true success = interviewerhas learned something new from you today 102
  103. 103. on product exercises: some examples write a mini-PRDdraw rough wireframespresent a proposal on X 103
  104. 104. tips for success in product exercises: practice is key 104
  105. 105. Mark TwainIt takes more than threeweeks to prepare a good impromptu speech 105
  106. 106. 1. clarify the objectives2. cover the top issues first,then go into detail3. show options considered4. point out drawbacks ofyour choiceokay to say “i don’t know” 106
  107. 107. practice - corollary: if you *absolutely love* a particular company, wait abit before interviewing there 107
  108. 108. you’ll get noticeably better after your first 2-3 interviews elsewhereensure you’re interviewingwith that dream company after that 108
  109. 109. finally, you must know the company’s products really well. come up with ways you’d improve them. but you will be lacking a lot ofcontext, so be aware of that 109
  110. 110. the choice: 110
  111. 111. congratulations, you have some offers 111
  112. 112. choose carefully 112
  113. 113. some PM jobs that (usually) suck 113
  114. 114. 114
  115. 115. 1.the PM without any engineers 115
  116. 116. Corollary:the PM who’s not in-charge of an actual product 116
  117. 117. 117
  118. 118. 2.the PM in a company that doesn’t consider engineering as a core strength 118
  119. 119. Result: engineering at such companies becomes a “service organization” - doesn’t attract goodengineers - engineering isn’t engaged in the product 119
  120. 120. 120
  121. 121. 3.the PM in a company thatdoesn’t understand the role of Product Management 121
  122. 122. Corollary:the PM who reports into Marketing 122
  123. 123. Recap - heres what you learned today: 123
  124. 124. Rule #1:job hunting makes you smarter - so enjoy it 124
  125. 125. on transitions:know very well what you’re getting into 125
  126. 126. Rule # 2:you don’t know what you’re getting into unless you’ve spoken with 8 people who’ve gone through the same thing 126
  127. 127. learning about product management:only way to learn is to actually do the job 127
  128. 128. Rule # 3: do the job before you getthe title, not the other way around 128
  129. 129. Rule # 4:MBA !=MBA = 129
  130. 130. Rule # 5: best place to position yourself for your nextcareer step is where you are now 130
  131. 131. transitions require planning: start 6-12 months before you have to make any transition 131
  132. 132. Rule # 6:keep your resume short,show you’ve worked on important products, use hooks 132
  133. 133. Rule # 7:build credibility even before they’ve met you. start a blog 133
  134. 134. succeeding in the interview: you now know what to expect prepare & practise 134
  135. 135. Rule # 8:join a company that getsprod mgmt, builds good products, has smart engineers 135
  136. 136. And finally ... 136
  137. 137. Once you have landed that dream PM job ... 137
  138. 138. make great products 138
  139. 139. That’s allGood luck! 139
  140. 140. THE END 140
  141. 141. WANT MORE? OKAY... 141
  142. 142. hiring for a crucial PM position Stats: # of resumes, # of interviews, results 142
  143. 143. 4 lessons learned: 143
  144. 144. 1. hard to know fromtraditional interviews if someone will actually perform well 144
  145. 145. Jason CalacanisThe only way to know if someone will do a good job is to watch them do the job 145
  146. 146. 2.don’t use the “default” interviewing team 146
  147. 147. 147
  148. 148. be sure to include thebest PMs from outsideyour group - esp. thosewho have no interest in seeing your position filled 148
  149. 149. 3.don’t use the “default” interviewing process 149
  150. 150. 150
  151. 151. 4.candidates who made it a no-brainer for me to decide: rare 151
  152. 152. On “job hunting makes you smarter”: 152
  153. 153. corollary:even updating yourresume makes you smarter 153
  154. 154. tip:update & send out your resume even if you’re not looking. response rate will tell youwhether you’re working on the right projects 154
  155. 155. be a user of the product before you apply (easier for web products) 155
  156. 156. tips on writing blog posts: 156
  157. 157. 1. short better thanlong, but not too short2. bullets/lists betterthan paragraphs3. have an opinion,state it, and don’t hedge 157
  158. 158. 4. don’t point outproblems withoutoffering solutions5. don’t disparageanyone or anything6. humor is okay 158
  159. 159. on transitions to PM: 159
  160. 160. typical transitions into PM:engineering, pre-sales, pro serv, business analystproject/program manager QA, support 160
  161. 161. not typical:marketing, biz dev, sales, user experience 161
  162. 162. the search: PMs changing verticals 162
  163. 163. big transitions:enterprise => consumer internetconsumer internet => mobilehardware => enterprise 163
  164. 164. smaller transitions:online advertising => social networking => virtualization b2b => casual games 164
  165. 165. these transitions are hard 165
  166. 166. how to crack the catch-22? 166
  167. 167. get the experience youneed, where you are now create the change 167
  168. 168. Seth GodinYour work is your platform 168
  169. 169. e.g. want to go from enterprise to consumer internet?create a web 2.0 aspect for your enterprise product 169
  170. 170. can’t do - this won’t work in my company - they won’t let me do anything novel have you tried 7 times?if yes, then just do it outside of work 170
  171. 171. the search: do I need an MBA to do product management? 171
  172. 172. it will open some doors that may have been closed before but it will not make youCEO-material or even putyou on a fast track career 172
  173. 173. e.g. no one becomes a big- shot VC or a VP Productright out of business school for that, you have to do something (much) moreamazing than just getting into Stanford GSB 173
  174. 174. unless ... you want to completely change both what you do and where you do ite.g. from being an engineer in tech to PM in consumer packaged goods 174
  175. 175. if you do decide to go to business school, have realistic expectations 175
  176. 176. look for people who had profiles similar to yoursbefore they went to business school check what job(s) they landed after getting out 176
  177. 177. btw, the LinkedIn tipapplies to all transitions, notjust those to business school 177
  178. 178. transitions - summary: 178
  179. 179. be sure the transition to PM is for you get the experience that opens doors for youdon’t let “constraints” get in the way 179
  180. 180. plan well aheadstart well before you have to get that next joba transition requires 6-12months of concerted effort 180
  181. 181. finally, expect many rejections don’t avoid applyingbecause you’ll get rejectedbe secure about who you are and your talents 181
  182. 182. resume: 182
  183. 183. don’t try to come across as a VP/SVP of Product when you’re applying for an individual contributor PM position 183
  184. 184. interviewing - summary: 184
  185. 185. prepare well & practise 185
  186. 186. enjoy the process, no matter how grueling it will showand remember, interviewing makes you smarter - so they are doing you a favor 186
  187. 187. the choice: 187
  188. 188. some concrete positive signs to look for: 188
  189. 189. 1. the company understandsthe importance and the role of product management (go back to Marty’s definition) 189
  190. 190. 2.the company has smart engineers 190
  191. 191. 3.the company (mostly) has a history of building great products 191
  192. 192. 4. the hiring manager spendsmore time talking about the core product, and less talking about“stakeholders”, “reporting”, “product council reviews”, “building consensus” 192
  193. 193. 5.the director and VP of product are actually product people. not “managers” 193
  194. 194. 6.you respect your prospective peers’ accomplishments 194
  195. 195. 7.the specific product you’llwork on is super-important for the organization 195
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