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How to become a Product Manager?

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If you’re an aspiring Product Manager, it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed by the number of resources that are available at your disposal. It’s just not possible to skim through all or most of the resources and expect to crack interviews.

In this blog post, we’ve managed to chart out a detailed process for you to seamlessly make the transition to a product role. This method is definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach as there are different “types” of aspiring Product Managers. 

If you come from an analytical background, you’re probably an expert at SQL that can enable you to make data-driven decisions. If you come from a design background, your aesthetic sense is unparalleled. If you’re a marketeer looking to transition to a product, your empathy towards the customer is an advantage for you. Hence, feel free to alter this career path according to where you are in your journey to become a product manager. 

  • Understand what you’re getting yourself into

Product Management sits at the intersection of UX, Business and Technology. Your day-to-day tasks might be interacting with the business teams to emphasize the business impact of a certain feature and vice versa. So, if you’re not too fond of interacting with cross-functional teams to drive outcomes, Product Management isn’t the right path for you.

  • “Learn” Product Management

Like many other things, this is very simple to say but hard to implement. Product Management requires a lot of disciplines to come together. Depending on where you are in your transition journey, you can take up product management courses to identify your skill gaps and fill them. You can also start reading books like “Cracking the PM Interview” and “Swipe to Unlock” to understand how the role acts as a bridge between business and technology.

  • Build a side project that you can leverage

Having a side project can be one of the tougher things to do but it’s very efficient in getting a foot in the door. Something as simple as starting a blog to building a community can qualify as a side project. So, choose a side project wisely and check if working on that can help you develop the skills needed to become a product manager.

  • Build a portfolio of demonstrable skills

Every aspiring Product Manager should follow a practice that is widely followed by designers across the world: Build a portfolio. With a portfolio, future employers can understand your specialties and know the quality of work that can be expected out of you. 

If you’ve done Market Research for a large sample set, you can display a short “teaser” of the report. If you’ve launched a product that was adopted by a lot of people, you can display that on your portfolio as well. As you can see, there are a lot of things that can be shown in a portfolio. But make sure it’s relevant and useful to the companies that you apply to.

  • Network with like-minded individuals and product leaders

By like-minded, we mean both aspiring product managers and product managers themselves. Talking to the former can help you bounce ideas off each other and the latter can help you judge if you’re doing the right things to achieve your goal of becoming a Product Manager. There are various websites through which you can choose a Product Management Mentor from top MNCs and know what it takes to land a product role. 

  • Know what it takes to crack the interview

So you’ve done everything on this list but if you’re not able to translate the same to the interviewer by articulating a good story on why you should get the job, you’re efforts are going to be futile. A lot of hiring managers look for the ability to think on your feet as one of the criteria to be selected. 

It’s important to understand that preparing for a product interview is very different from cracking the same interview. Preparation helps you anticipate questions and (possibly) know them beforehand but learning to crack the interview will enable you to articulate yourself in the best possible way. 

Nitin Murali is a Marketing Executive at Institute of Product Leadership. A curious and inquisitive individual, he’s loves conversations around the 0-1 journey and is a  startup enthusiast residing in the Silicon Valley of the East.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nitin-murali/

Twitter: twitter.com/nitinmurali1

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