Answered: Why Is It So Hard to Get a Job as a Product Manager?
Nothing ever worth doing is easy. That’s especially true when it comes to getting the job you’ve been dreaming of.
Product Management is a very hot role right now, as it was listed as the #4 best job in America earlier this year.
If you’ve been struggling to land that interview, or get through to the next stage, you’re not alone.
The Gray Area of Product
Product Management is not as cut-and-dry as some other roles, which have very clear paths. If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school. If you want to be a great painter, you buy an easel and enroll in some classes.
However, Product Management is not so easy to define.
Product Management is typically referred to as the intersection of business, technology, and user experience. It doesn’t hurt if you also know a bit about Product Marketing. And maybe a few coding skills.
That’s also true for the hiring managers who are tasked with finding the next Product Manager for their company. It’s hard to write a specific list of requirements, as Product Managers come in all shapes and sizes.
A candidate with a degree in computer science who spent the last year as a UX designer, might be just as qualified for a role as a front-end developer with a background in finance.
If you have a variety of skills — there is a job out there for you in Product.
The Educational Gap
What happens to many people time and time again, is that they spend years at a traditional college or university, and come out with traditional skills like computer science, finance, and marketing.
These are a great starting point, but unfortunately, as you walk side by side with your fellow classmates on graduation day, you’ve all been equipped with the same skills. And Product Management is not a traditional job, as we’ve mentioned above.
While a few universities may touch on Product Management in class — there are no dedicated courses. Product Management certifications can be taken outside of formal education, before, during, or after your studies.
Anyone who wants to be a Product Manager has to take their own initiative and learn the necessary skills in their own time. Or, organically, by taking a variety of different positions. A few years in UX, one in marketing, a quick coding course…the path can be long and winding!
Supply and Demand
Thanks to the rising popularity of the role, there are too many people who want to get into Product, and not enough open positions. Jostling for space like this can be very draining, especially as the interview process can be long and arduous.
Speaking of the interview process, a job being posted to LinkedIn from a big name like Google or Spotify, might get up to 800 applicants. It’s not as simple as sending your resume in and hoping for the best anymore.
It also takes a lot of resources to attend the interviews even when you get them. If you’re currently in a full-time job, finding the time to go to interviews without using all of your PTO or arousing suspicion is a delicate balancing act!
Is there hope for aspiring Product Managers?!
Like we said at the start — nothing that’s worth doing is easy! All it takes is some careful planning, and a bit of grit. Your Product Management job is waiting for you, but it’s not going to hand itself to you on a silver platter. You need to go after it yourself.
Free Product Management resources
First of all, there are a plethora of Product Management resources out there to help you gain Product skills and knowledge.
If you’re just starting out, we recommend:
- The Product Book — The ultimate guide to all things Product Management
- The Product Podcast — Interviews and talks with some of the best Product people in the world
- Ship It — A book with new and updated talks from top Product Managers working at Netflix, Google, Facebook, and more.
Secondly, getting a certification will help you consolidate your knowledge, and give you tangible proof that you have what it takes to be a Product Manager.
Our Product Management certifications are taught by real Product Managers from Google, N26, Amazon, Apple, and more world-class companies. They have the jobs you want, and can teach you what they know.
You can also get involved in your local product community by checking out events and networking opportunities.
Expert talks from Product experts
We’ve also uploaded all of our talks to YouTube, and we’ve handpicked a few which are particularly helpful to those stuck in the job-hunting stage:
What I Look for When I Hire a Product Manager By Airbnb Product Lead
How to Nail the Product Manager Interview by Gayle McDowell
How to Shine in a Product Manager Interview by former Facebook PM
Conferences Product Managers go to
Don’t forget, you can learn from experts and network with the people you want to be at #ProductCon, the last Product Management conference. If you’re near London, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, or San Francisco, attend the conference in person and rub shoulders with the best.
You can also sign up for the livestream if you’re further afield, and enjoy all the learnings of the day for free.
I’m Carlos González, CEO at Product School, and I enjoy sharing weekly tips for Product leaders!
This article was also published on The Product Management Blog.