Want to grow your career? Think like a product marketer.
My job, as a product marketer, is to make selling easier. So, how does this approach apply to your career?
You are a product. Your skills, experiences, and personality are all packaged within you. Every product has a job. A can opener is designed to open cans without a trip to the ER. At any given time, You buy something for the job you need done.
Career growth means employers must hire, train, and promote you.
How I approach career growth is no different to product marketing.
- Identify your target audience (prospective employer)
- Understand their problem (job opening)
- Deliver the solution (you!)
Let’s focus our attention to #3. If you are a product, then you’re also the solution. Here are three takeaways on how to grow your career:
Know your superpower
Identify one strength that adds value and nobody else can do. You must (#1) know your audience and (#2) understand the problem to know what’s valuable.
I made a career transition from tech sales to product marketing (PMM), a few years ago. This was a difficult move because I had no product marketing experience. So, I needed to lean into my superpower to convince prospective employers on how I was the best candidate for their next PMM role. Thanks to research and networking, I learned that product marketers help salespeople. The light bulbs went off!
“I am a salesperson. I know what it takes to be an effective seller. Hell! I am doing it right now.”
Selling was (and still is) my superpower. I leaned into it and crafted examples I shared during interviews of how my sales acumen best positions me to a rockstar product marketing hire. Here is an excerpt:
Interviewer: Why should I hire you for this PMM role?
Me: I am the best candidate for this position because I am a seller, product marketing is designed to help make selling easier, and who no better to hire than someone who knows the sales world?
Fast forward 4 months later, I broke into my first product marketing role with no direct experience. I knew my superpower, I leaned into it, and used it to build a compelling case on how this would help my future (then, current) employer win!
Promote your work online
Your career deserves recognition! This is one area where you need to toot your own horn. Assume nobody is going to do this for you. Then, proceed to be your biggest cheerleader!
10 years ago, the idea of sharing on social media scared the s@#! out of me. It seemed like a waste of time and would not make a difference.
Growing up, I was taught and encouraged to be modest of my achievement. “Let your work speak for you, Zach.” That was my maxim for the first five years of my tech career. Result — no promotion, no raise, and complete burnout.
Don’t let this be you. Do this instead.
Share your accomplishments on LinkedIn. Did you learn something new on the job? Talk about it and share them with others. Did your team get recognized by leadership? Share that moment with your network.
Assume no one is going to do it for you.
These may be small moments, but overtime, they build your brand and attracts attention from your peers and recruiters alike.
I am grateful to be in a place of life where I can share my experience and what I’ve learned along the way. My social media presence today has connected me to amazing people, exciting opportunities, and thought-provoking ideas I continue to build within my own habits.
The secret if you were like me 10 years ago: start small. Write one post a day on LinkedIn. It can be you just re-sharing an article and you add one sentence of your take on it. Write 1–2 tweets on Twitter. Spur of the moment, who cares? The goal is to develop that muscle, so it becomes easier overtime.
This will help you towards the last point…
Contribute to the dialogue
A thought leader is nothing special — all you need is a unique thought. I was surprised of the profile views I received when I commented on a LinkedIn post. This back in my social media infancy. Commenting is a low bar and a good goal to push you out of your comfort zone (assuming you were like me back in the day).
Identify thought leaders, industry leaders, or people you enjoy within your social media networks. Follow them and engage their posts. And, when I say engage, I am not saying “Like their post”.
Likes don’t create visibility for your brand. Comment! Do so at least once a day. As I said before, develop that muscle and I guarantee it will become easier overtime.
Your career is a product. Treat it like you do your smartphone — with care and attention. Build your career in a way that it’s a no-brainer of why a company or client should hire you.
Start small, start today. Because, no one is going to do it for you.
Zach attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied Finance and took level 3 calculus for fun. However, it was his intro psychology course in his first year that sparked his passion for teaching and Socratic method. He went on to tutor psychology during undergrad, and later teach professional development courses at Code Tenderloin in San Francisco. Today, he is a product marketing manager at Dropbox, where he supports their sales play program. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter!