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Want to become a Product Manager? Read On

In the recent past, Product Mangers have become the most sought after. With the digital boom in India, product management jobs have also become a hot trend. There’s never been a more exciting time to be a product manager.

Numerous companies are vying for the best of breeds and it's a talent blood bath out there. In this post let's outline a few critical pointers that's essential to eye for a Product Management role.

It's worth noting that these are generalized lessons from our recruitment experiences, and are not endorsed by or reflect the views of any particular company's recruitment process.

Let's first understand what exactly is Product Management.

Product management lies at the intersection of business, technology, and design, combining strategy, marketing, leadership, and other skills with the end goal of launching an amazing product. It’s all about solving problems with technology and how people use that technology. Product management very close to roles like brand management or project management. But, product managers often address more technical products, like; industrial goods, online services, software products or books, which fall under one particular name. As a product manager, you will be developing pricing, distributing and promoting a particular product or line of products. As a PM, you are the voice of the users.

Product managers don’t write the codes, don’t do the UI/UX design, and don’t sell – well, technically. Product Managers ensures that the right product is built and it reaches the customers in the right way. This would mean research, strategy, and communication.

The Pay Scale:

PM jobs pay well, but not like management consulting, financial services or engineering management. The average annual salaries would be between INR 605, 677 and 3, 560, 554 (Source: payscale.com)

Education:

There is no fixed path for becoming a product manager. It’s just that you have to forge your own path into a product management career. Ideal education  would be someone with a Masters degree in business with technology background and an eye of details

If you are one of the lucky few who won the job application lottery and have been invited to interview - Congratulations! Interviewing can be a nerve wracking process, whether you are graduating from college or are hoping to switch jobs, and effective preparation is the best way to keep your nerves in check.
Product Managers are often told (or at least tell themselves) that they are the “CEOs of Product.” While they may not have the overarching authority of the C-Suite, a successful Product Manager is not wrong to make such a humblebrag.
1. Spend time researching the company

This happens to be the single most critical factor. As surprising as it sounds, most of the candidates fail to do their homework. Have a good understanding of what the mission of the company is and how it markets itself to its customers, investors and prospective candidates. Find out all the recent news about the company. Other great resources include Crunchbase (especially for startups) and Glassdoor. For public companies, go through an analysis of their most recent quarterly investor conference call, as these can give insightful information on competitive trends, future outlook and key risks facing the company.
  
2. Acquire the Essential Skills and Attributes

Being a product manager, you need to have few technical skills. Besides, you must also develop and refine your skills on communication, selling, business acumen, out-of-box thinking, competitive and market intelligence, ability to see the bigger picture, domain/industry knowledge, evangelism, persuasion, relationship development etc.

Essential non technical skills: Business Acumen, Negotiations, Persuasion, Evangelism, Sales, Effective communication, Creative ability, Super Rich Confidence Levels

Technical Skills: Data collection, extraction & analysis, Experimentation (A/B Testing), Interactive Prototyping, Coding (Understand what languages, frameworks, and architecture the company uses and why)
“Influencing the senior-most leaders in a company requires fluency in these business languages coupled with confidence and executive presence.”
3. Have a clear narrative for your career thus far. Be ready to explain what you do to someone who might have very little (or a lot) of knowledge about your current company’s business model, industry etc.

4. If you know the name of your interviewer, look them up on LinkedIn. 

5. If you are working with a recruiter to help you land a product management role, then nothing beats it. Treat your recruiter as a close ally in this whole process. Ask for guidance on what areas/topics the company tests its PM’s on. 

6. Practice with mock interviews

A Few fundamental interview questions that can get you started:

1. Practice with mock interviews: Maybe a Cliche, but It is surprising how often people don’t have a clear answer to this question. Do some research, find out which products within that company’s portfolio you like. Connect them with your background and experience and have a clear narrative.

2. Do you use our products? What would you improve?

Again, time spent in research should help with this. If you haven't used any of the products of this company, try to talk to someone who has. This might be harder for enterprise products, but for consumer products there really is no excuse to not have spent time familiarizing yourself having an informed point of view. For enterprise products, it might help to go through B2B review sites like G2Crowd, where you can get a sense of how a company's customers perceive its products.

3. What is one technology product that you really like? Why? How would you improve it? Try to pick something non mainstream. If you pick Facebook or Google, can indicate that you haven’t really done your research, and the bar for a really good answer with those products is also very high.

4. What is one product/project that you have worked on that you are really proud of and why?

Gain experience in the area of continuing a management job by being an associate of a product management team. Marketing communications managers, product marketers, sales engineers and merchandise coordinators are other members of product management team. Many product managers have worked in similar positions before donning the hat of a product manager

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