If you are looking to break into the world of product management, you’ve probably considered getting a Product Manager certificate. When trying to stay up to date and competitive in the job market, it can be tempting to think that the more certifications on your resume the better. But how much do they really bring to the table?
When a Product Manager Certificate Makes Sense
First, it is important to clarify your situation and why you are looking to get a Product Manager certificate. Are you new to the industry, and hoping to increase your chances of landing an interview? Or are you a currently employed product manager looking to sharpen your skills for the job you have right now?
Generally, the only time you should think about getting a certification is when you are on the job and you would like to know how to do your job better, and your employer pays for it. The reality of certifications is that they are a business, and they will always try to sell you on the next certification. To ensure you’re getting the best value for your investment, the decision to get a certification should follow very specific criteria and be solving a very specific problem on a job you already have.
Theoretical Knowledge vs. Applied Learning
Theoretical knowledge is simply not the same as applied learning. Many of us have had this experience already in high school or university courses we took that we never had a practical application for. As soon as we leave the classroom environment, we tend to forget everything we learned. The phrase ‘use it or lose it’ is universally true when it comes to learning any new skills, and it certainly applies to a Product Manager certificate on the job.
Let’s say, for example, your company puts you on a project and you need to learn search engine optimization, and they pay for your SEO certification. You will naturally go into that course so much more engaged than you would have been without the project because you will be taking what you learn and immediately applying it to real-life experiences and problems. There has to be a specific start and a specific desired outcome to truly make effective use of certification.
When to Reconsider
On the other hand, if you are currently on the job hunt and are considering paying out of pocket for a Product Manager certificate to increase your chances of being hired, it might be worth reconsidering. For everything that you do on the job hunt, you should be asking yourself two questions.
First, is this going to increase the number of interviews that I’m going to get? And second, is this going to increase the quality of the interview, such that they’re going to give me an offer faster?
Seeing certifications galore on a resume, like stamps on the passport of a well-travelled influencer, doesn’t necessarily make you more appealing to recruiters. Nor does it make for more intuitive conversation in an interview. Many hiring managers or recruiters agree that when they’re looking at certification, it just communicates to them that the candidate is really good at regurgitating information. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have practical knowledge or problem-solving skills that many good Product Managers demonstrate without obtaining a Product Manager certificate.
If you’re truly aiming to be successful at converting that interview into an offer, the important thing to keep in mind is that companies open positions to solve a specific problem — not for you and your individual credentials. You really should be spending the entire interview talking about the problem that the company is trying to solve, and how your experience and skills can meet that need.
So, Should You Get a Product Manager Certificate?
Successful product managers and recruiters alike will agree: it is once you are actually on the job and understand the specific problems you need to adapt to that seeking out certification will become relevant to you. If you’re thinking that certification is going to help you get more interviews and more offers, we are here to tell you that it will not.
Don’t just take our word for it: please go to our testimonial page and see how many of our wonderful members have landed their dream PM jobs without first getting a Product Manager certificate. There’s no need to wait to get a certificate before you start applying for Product Manager jobs: check out our curated PM job board for live updates on the most exclusive jobs you can start applying to now.
Want some guidance before you jump into the Product Manager job hunt? We’ve got you covered. Schedule a free career coaching session with one of our in-house experts to get answers, advice, and guidance for your next steps.