How to Get a Product Manager Job Without the Right Background

This is a question we hear a lot about here at Product Gym, “Rich, I really want to be a Product Manager, I know that I can do the job, and I feel this is where my career should go next, but I don’t have the right background.” I am always very curious as to, well; what is the right background? What background do you believe you need to have in order to have this job? If that is not the background you possess, then why are you trying to be a Product Manager? Its something that is very painful to see, countless number of individuals that sell themselves short, and for what? For a job that they don’t find inspiring?

There is absolutely a chance for you to land a Product Manager or even multiple Product Manager offers without having the “right” background, title, or experience; but before we can talk about the how, we need to first accept that there is a way. Whatever it is that your mind focuses on, it will expand. Not to sound too philosophical, but how is telling yourself over and over again in your own head that this is totally impossible going to help the situation? Is your current full time job not stressful enough, so you are salt and peppering in more toxicity into your own mind? That must be pretty exhausting.

Stop Believing and Telling Yourself It’s Impossible

This way of thinking is simply destructive and unhelpful. Let’s conquer negative emotions with logic for a minute. The truth is, regardless of what your background is you have probably seen a few people you know on LinkedIn that has gotten hired as a Product Manager, even though they didn’t come from a Product Manager title or background. If they can do it, why can’t you? Come on! Are you honestly telling yourself that you have not overcome worst odds in your life than trying to get a Product Manager job? That doesn’t make sense and you know it! If being a Product Manager is what you believe destiny has in store for you, then OWN IT! Start thinking like a Product Manager RIGHT THE YOU-KNOW-WHAT NOW! Every day Product teams, big and small, are constantly pushing the boundaries and redefining what the possible means. How do you expect people to believe in you if you don’t even believe in yourself? So, stop thinking about how impossible it is for you land this job and just ask yourself, how impossible it is for you to land one Product Manager interview? After all, every job hunt (really everything in life) begins with just taking the first step, right? The first step in landing a Product Manager interview is landing your first phone screens. Then, your next milestone is to land ten phone screens and then so on and so forth.

Stop Focusing on Your Weaknesses

Focus on the strengths and the background you have right now. Your background right now as it is, is the best background you have got. You may have forgotten, but it’s the only background you have. Unless Elon Musk has invented a time machine that you can also have access to that I do not know about; you are pretty much stuck with your background. You need to start focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. What are your strengths? What are your competitive advantages? What do you do better than most people or everybody else? What makes you different? You need to stop focusing on what you don’t have or what you wish you had. In war, you don’t fight with the army you wish you had, you have got to fight with the army you do have. In business, you don’t compete with the talent, resources, and funding you wish you had, you compete with who and what you’ve got RIGHT NOW. What do you think life is going to be like as a Product Manager? Can you complain to your higher ups about the resources you wish you had? I really recommend everybody that says Product Management is their passion, destiny, and otherwise to read The Hard Things About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz. The main point is, as a job candidate you are going to have to compete using your strengths just like a product or feature has to compete using its strengths. You are you not going to be all things to all people, all the time.

Stop Procrastinating

Early on in my technical recruiting career, one of my old mentors would always tell me, “Time kills deals.” I never forgot about that because there is no better time than right now. Why? Because there is never going to be the right time. It is so painful to see people trying to read every book, attend every meetup, and network with every Product Manager they know. You don’t have enough time. You really don’t have enough time. You are never going to be ready. You will never KNOW EVERYTHING before you start interviewing. Ever heard of an MVP? What do you believe the inspiration for creating something like an MVP? Go and Product Manage your job hunt. Come on, lets “Ship Fast, Ship Often” already.

Stop Getting in Your Own Way

You only have one life to live, let’s not squander it by holding ourselves mentally hostage. Its 2019, let’s be real, this is totally doable. Stop wasting your time worrying about the hypothetical. Almost everybody I talk to wants this job, but I see people thinking about it in two very different ways. There are the people that can see the logic of what we do here at Product Gym for what it is and then I see people fretting over some of the most ridiculous borderline conspiracy theories of just things that can never happen. For the last time already, please; if you want to be a Product Manager then just start thinking like one. Start acting like one. Start talking like one. 95% of your job as a Product Manager is to solve problems nobody either cares, knows, or even understands how to solve. I promise you this much: there won’t be two days that are going to the same for you.

We focus much of our energy, effort, and time at Product Gym helping students succeed by showing you guys “how” to get the Product Manager job of your dreams. Its become apparent to me though, that if you are hell bent on subscribing to these limited and unproductive beliefs that I had mentioned above, then knowing the “how” won’t really matter. How you think affects how you feel, which affects how you interview. You can never expect a company to make you a Product Manager offer out of pity or compassion. You have to earn it. Aren’t you looking for a NEW CHALLENGE, anyway? Go and schedule a free consultation right now, so we can get you to where you need to go.

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