Pathrise: Tech companies need more product managers. How can you become one?

“Product management roles have shot up in popularity,” says Kevin Wu, co-founder and CEO of career accelerator Pathrise. “Aspiring product managers can find new rewarding roles if they know where to look.” Product management job listings seem to be popping up everywhere. In fact, a 2019 Product Management Insider study found that the number of product management roles in the US grew by 32% in just 2 years. As companies need more digital products faster, the demand for product managers grows. Product managers craft a product (often a prototype) to address customers’ needs. They see the product through each phase of development, including launch and continued development.

According to Glassdoor, product managers earn an average yearly salary of $112,040. The average product manager salary on AngelList is $105,500. This puts product managers in the top 8% of earners, which is especially impressive considering that a Zippia study found that only 37% of product managers have master’s degrees, while 48% have only a bachelor’s degree in business fields. Plenty of product managers have even less formal education. For a non-STEM tech role that doesn’t require excessive seniority or education, product managers are very well compensated and usually report high levels of job satisfaction.

Who’s hiring? Top tech companies like Box and Facebook are seeking product management applications on LinkedIn and Google Jobs. Smaller startups are also hiring on AngelList and VentureLoop. For aspiring product managers seeking remote jobs, We Work Remotely lists virtual work opportunities. Product manager-specific boards include Product Hired and ProductManagerCrossing.

In the early phases of the product management job search, your resume is the only product that matters. While aspiring product managers can try strategies like “reverse recruiting” to connect with recruiters more effectively, the recruiter can’t judge the candidate’s skill or drive directly. All recruiters have to go on is a 1-page resume. Especially for recent grads, explaining past experiences and skills in “story” format can show off talents to a recruiter. Quantified results are especially powerful.

For example, the resume line “researched market trends to draft prototypes” shows little extra initiative. This line is probably on every resume and it puts recruiters to sleep. Consider this more active story statement: “Conducted market research, analyzed 50+ seed-stage startups, and tested 4 prototypes to prove the validity of our concept.”

Like a product, a resume should be aesthetic enough to stand out without overwhelming readers. Experts recommend 1-2 columns of sans serif fonts with a maximum of 1 cool color (blue, green, purple) to make your resume modern and readable. Try highlighting specific tools and systems that you can use, like Google Analytics. Consider tailoring your stated skill set to the keywords on the job description as recruiters and applicant tracking systems usually seek out those precise words.

After getting an interview, aspiring product managers should practice the type of questions they can expect to see in the technical sessions. Candidates should also research the company, studying their product, values, and history. Read their culture page carefully. Like the skill section of a resume, candidates who present themselves as aligned with specific phrases from a company’s values tend to impress recruiters.

Congratulations! You followed these steps and got a product management job offer. But it’s not over yet. Compare the proposed salary to salaries at similar companies and negotiate based on what’s common. If the offer is from a top FAANG company and includes a competitive salary already, consider asking for changes to equity or signing bonuses. With startups and small companies, product manager salaries start lower, so you may want to negotiate unless the offer explicitly forbids it.

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