29 Indicators of a Product Manager’s Talent

At Pivotal Labs, this is what we look for in a PM candidate.

  1. Has shipped software. More than twice.
  2. Has worked collaboratively with small teams.
  3. Has delivered value iteratively.
  4. Has made data-driven product decisions.
  5. Strong focus on the user first and foremost.
  6. Can communicate easily with engineers, but does not need to possess the skills to implement technical solutions.
  7. Can quickly get up to speed on a new domain.
  8. Can build consensus with the product team and support consensus building with a broader group of stakeholders.
  9. Steps up and owns product decisions and the process to get there (even, or especially, when consensus is not achievable).
  10. Can identify alternative solutions to a problem; the high level pros and cons of each; and communicate this along with a recommendation.
  11. Can explain what success looks like and how to measure it.
  12. Creates opportunities to learn and validate early on.
  13. Has strong opinions, loosely held.
  14. Adapts to change and new information (even, or especially, when it means a product or business assumption was wrong).
  15. Believes in tight feedback loops and transparency.
  16. Empathizes with others’ perspective (users, clients and team members).
  17. Demonstrates passion.
  18. Fosters a culture of learning and sharing.
  19. Confident but not cocky: demonstrates humility.
  20. Explains complex things in an easy to understand way.
  21. Is engaging and interesting to speak with.
  22. Can adapt communication style to the situation.
  23. Breaks down work that needs to be done into small pieces.
  24. Can prioritize based on what the most valuable thing to do next is.
  25. Designs systems that are simple and effective.
  26. Can share a compelling narrative about a product: what problem it solves, for whom, how and why solving this problem matters in the first place.
  27. Can build trust with clients.
  28. Is self-sufficient and creates momentum on their own.
  29. Coachable and takes guidance.

Guiding principle: attitude and bias are as important as experience and skill.

Thank you to Graham Siener, Joanna Beltowska and the NYC PM team at Pivotal Labs for being day-to-day conspirators on all things product management.

Interviewing for PM roles? Check out Joanna Beltowska’s post, 3 steps to landing any Product Manager interview.