No pain no gain!
This is a popular mantra for every gym, and it’s not hard to understand why. The very first time I registered at a gym, the instructor told me after every session I will feel intense pain, but I must come back the next day because the only way the pain will go is if I don’t stop. It sounded weird but it also made sense.
Your career is your gym, you have to face the inconveniences and not run away from them. The strategy I’m going to share in this article is no fairy tale, it works but it needs focus and dedication. As I hinted in the first part of this article, you need to have a certain level of doggedness and enthusiasm to thrive in product, especially when you’re new to it. This is the first hurdle.
My Two Month Strategy
Books and Certifications:
I started this journey three months before I started to make applications, For three months I read an average of 100 minutes of product management books every day. In fact, I started a community mostly because I was really committed to the goal and also because I wanted to help other people achieve good reading habits. For context, I won’t consider myself a bad reader but I didn’t really enjoy reading. Although I have come to understand if you want to be a badass product manager or scale fast like getting a job abroad in one year, you need to read hard.
For three months I read books sometimes 4 times over because I understood it differently every time I read the books again. The above picture is a very good guide to solidifying your foundation as a Product Manager.
When I was done I had a good understanding of what product management was in theory and I practiced what I learned while building my reading community. I actually used this to land a product management role. At the end of this article, I will offer you an opportunity to join my reading community. I plan to create one strictly for product managers looking to upskill and Aspiring product managers.
CV & RESUME:
One of the most important things I had to understand is that as a product manager you have to treat every part of your career like product management, most importantly your application. The next thing I had to work on was my CV, even though I didn’t need this to get my foot through the door. It’s important to put some things into consideration while writing your CV for your application.
- Add only relevant experience in your CV, this doesn’t have to be only PM roles. If you had a role where you used to plan or document, or you managed a cross-functional team, these are examples of responsibilities that can show competence in product management outside product management.
- Focus on impact and not output. Companies are not interested in the activities you have performed if they made no effect on your team or business. For example,
- Performed scrum rituals
- Wrote user stories
These activities do not give you an edge in an application but when you add the impact they do. For example,
Impact: Raised retention rate by 50% by performing the following activities …
I would also like to mention that there are so many resources on this topic out there, you will keep seeing reasons to revise your CV that’s why it should be living documentation just like other PM documentation.
As it is in the PM role, there is no perfect CV, make changes, apply and iterate through feedback.
I started applying two months before I got the job and everybody I spoke to, told me it was all a numbers game. I need to get as many applications out as possible to get considered, they said. But, I also knew I had a major disadvantage which was my years of experience. I knew the possibilities of getting an abroad job were still very low but I was determined so I started my applications. I tracked every single application and rejection till I got to rejection number 42 in two weeks, at this point I was tired of the rejection. So I knew I had to use a different strategy. I decided rather than spamming applications to 100 companies and getting about 99 rejections with one acceptance, I decided I will put more effort into applying and target 10 companies I really like so that I can raise the success rate. I decided to write case studies. I wrote 7 case studies in total and I got interviews for three of them. This was a massive turnover compared to my zero in 42 earlier.
You can either do what everybody is doing or take your applications from a PM point of view, you can interview a couple of people that got new jobs in companies you want to work for, map out what you Must have, should have or could have, just like in the MosCow technique. Go back to the drawing board to analyze the data you’ve gotten and tailor it to what you have from experience. Research always makes experimenting a better experience.
THE CASE STUDY:
It’s important here to leave explanations about yourself till the end. What you’re trying to achieve with a case study is to show that you can help their company and you care about their product and target users.
In the introduction, I talked about all that I loved about the company, and why I decided to apply to them.
In the approach to MVP, Using Dan Olsen’s MVP pyramid I explained why each section of the pyramid is vital to approaching the MVP in succession. I analyzed their different types of competitors and what they are doing to solve the problem in this space.
In why get tailored, I gave numbers and figures to the research I did on the company and the problem they are solving.
In the User persona, I focused on users' needs that can affect the study, using demographic cohorts, I was able to tailor my findings to actual research and studies for insight.
I went on to highlight the pain points in the group and proffered possible solutions I got while interviewing a few people that fit my findings. I then made a list of features from the solutions and prioritized them using the RICE and MosCow framework.
I was able to find a Northstar feature through this prioritization and I explained the reason for this feature’s importance. I wireframed what it will look like as UI and wrote a bit on the key metrics to track its success.
In the conclusion section, I went into detail about myself and how I will approach this solution. In this way, I was able to show what I can do and account for the insufficient experience factor. This strategy takes a long time but it gives you a better chance. I’ve attached a few pictures to show this evidence, I hope it inspires you.
In Conclusion, As I mentioned earlier, reading books helped me so much as a product manager, if you are aspiring to be one or looking to upskill, you need to read hard :D.