How to Brand Yourself as the Ultimate Product Manager

“I have x years of experience in product management, I started at {company}, where I was doing {something related to product management}, I left because of {this reason}”. The point that you are trying to communicate, is that you have a story in how you transitioned into Product Management. To tell this story, you must build the framework of your story first.

You are the hero of your own story. When you land your product manager roles, you are consistently going to hear this: Product managers tell stories. Just like how you read in books or see in movies, you have to follow a framework of

  1. A flashback – “I’m here now, I started fifteen years ago when I was at this first company” and then slowly build the story to where you are now. You can start from the very beginning when you graduated from college. “I did {this}, then {that}”
  2. Go backward and talk about how you are currently doing product related tasks and transition into how you got your current role. Then the previous and so on until your information is exhausted of product relevancy.

The point is that you’re telling a story and you are the hero of your story. The climax of your story is that you are leaving your current company. Ensure that you’re building your pitch around that like you are telling the story. You are the hero, you are the protagonist.

Don’t give too much company context, don’t speak too much on technical jargon. Focus on yourself and your role. You have to sound like a product manager and you have to use product vocabulary.

So what does that mean?

Much of product vocabulary can be found online.

  • Stakeholder consensus– If you have worked with multiple people, you have done some area of stakeholder consensus.
  • Customer empathy– Being close to the end users. Being close to users in general. Being able to find something in your background that you can relate to for your background.
  • Etc.

Find a specific example that you can apply your background and professional history too. You must sound like a product manager on these calls.

Look at your own resume and craft your story. Develop your pitch. Have your product vocabulary ready.

Now let’s think about a specific case of an Email Account Manager: How are you going to use these vocabulary terms are specific to your background. What did you do? How is this related to Product at all? What does that mean? How is that related to Product? How do you transition this into Product? What’s your reason for living?

  • “Identified key product-marketing opportunities = Led flagship team for brand utilizing our people based marketing capabilities.”

So you identified an area that could have been utilizing something, utilizing what? People based marketing capabilities. Great, you’ve found a product marketing opportunity. The product, in this case, is yourself. The product of this case could be the team.

It doesn’t specifically have to be a software product, in this case, because as you’re transitioning, you are building up the story to the point that you are a product manager.

  • “managed and maintained partnerships”

This means you were extremely client facing and had direct customer interactions, where you were documenting feedback, documenting the customer pain pointsleveraging products and data to hit our KPIs. What are the KPI’sMaximizing revenue. What are the tools that I was using? E-mail inventory.

  • “Directly implementing HTML”

You were working with engineering for implementation of these products.

  • “Acted as the lead contact for the director”

What does that mean? Perhaps that means that you managed other people who come to the director and that you had to balance and prioritize different interests.

So the pitch here is: I worked at {Company} where I was identifying key product-marketing opportunities. Here, I managed and maintained partnerships that we had with our current clients so I was extremely customer facing and had direct customer interactions with representatives of {client companies} where the core KPI to hit was maximizing revenue.

Here, you’ve crafted the story of being a PM. Start by saying that “In my product role, or as a product owner/manager/strategist, I owned {these products}. If you’re not comfortable saying you owned products or you feel like you didn’t own one, take a product or project that you can speak naturally to and take something that you can break down into detail when you are asked for examples. If you choose a product that is not software or something that you didn’t own completely; that’s fine.

Pick an area of the product development life-cycle which you were responsible for. What is the first step? Walk the recruiter through specifically what you did. Ideation and discovery. “I did {this.}” If you can walk through an entire part of the development life-cycle of the product, that’s fine, too. For the next part of the life-cycle “I did this for {another product}”  The key point is to communicate competency and sound like a product manager.

Remember to use product vocabulary because many first round calls are recruiters using a checklist. You must hit these key areas to make the second round.

Draw from a specific instance in your background to support areas of your resume. What have you done to document and gather requirements for? This is a key attribute for a product manager: being able to document and being able to write requirements from the business stakeholders and communicate that to the engineers.

How do you manage different stakeholders you have to work with? Either different stakeholders are working peripherally, different stakeholders that you have to email, different stakeholders that you have to talk to.

What’s the time you’ve had “sprints” and have you worked in Agile? Sprints don’t have to be actually engineering sprinting. State that Agile is actually done differently in many different organizations. “Here, at {your company} your sprints are organized in a three and a half week cycle. And we don’t believe in rigid cycles but we do this instead.” The point of a sprint is to do something, send it out quickly, get a response, and then learn from it.

Have you ever defined, met or exceeded KPIs and OKRs? These are essential objectives and determining success from them. Look up other job descriptions and ask yourself “Have I done this in any capacity at all?” You will find that many are generic descriptions that you must find specific examples in your background to support when you prepare for first-round calls or second round calls.

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