How to Strategize Winning the PM Job Hunting Game

The Product Management job hunting process has always been tricky to walk through.  There have been many people who want to fulfill Product Manager positions, but they somehow can’t seem to overcome some obstacle that stands in the way of their success.  These people are sometimes qualified, sometimes experienced, and sometimes possesses the necessary skills to be amazing at the job.  Some people have been more successful in their endeavors in the Product Management job hunting process, with most possessing similar skill sets or track history as the ones that were not so fortunate.

Here at Product Gym, we have encountered many kinds of people that have participated in the job hunting process.  Through our experiences, we have come to the general conclusion that regardless of current income, industry, titles, there are two types of people in that play this job hunt game –

  • People that understand they are in an infinite game
  • People that don’t understand they are in an infinite game.

To better understand what we mean by “participants understanding are in an infinite game,” we first have to explain its relevance to game theory, and more importantly, its relevance to the subject of job hunting.

People need to first view the process of getting hired as a game.  Obviously, job hunting will never be as informal and non-serious as the basic game.  However, job hunting can be likened to that of a game like Monopoly in that there are goals and different strategies to win.  There is an endgame to the job hunting game – it’s up to people to figure out which potent strategy is worth taking in order to reach that endgame.

Game Theory

In game theory, there are two types of games – finite and infinite games.  Both kinds of games have different effects on people’s decision making. It’s important for people to know when they are making, finding, or acting on a solution that they know what type of “game” they are “playing.”

Finite games are the more clear game than infinite games.  Finite games are usually in a controlled setting, with known players, objectives, rules, and expectations.  The rules are set, and people generally know the rules that are set. There is a clear winner and loser – it’s a zero-sum game.  There are clear timeframes and clear limits and boundaries to what you can and cannot do.

Infinite games are opposite to finite games – they are generally unknown, shrouded in mystery.  There is such a thing as unknown players, objectives, rules, and expectations in infinite games, usually adding to the known players, objectives, rules, and expectations that finite games possess.  Everyone can play an infinite game, rules are not clear and are definitely not constant. There is no third party that acts as an arbitrator to inform people what, if there is any, limits in the game.  Infinite games get their name because the constant turnover and change in rules are devised to keep the game going forever.

Why is that important in someone getting a job?  The basic rules of winning these kinds of games are:

  • When you have a finite player paired against a finite player; playing a finite game the system works
  • When you have an infinite player paired against an infinite player; playing an infinite game; the system also works.

This is important since Product Management job hunting is not a finite game – it’s a very infinite game.  The field of Product Management is always changing, correlating with the changes that the very definition of Product Management is undergoing.  Generally, people that understand this concept come from people that possess these traits:

  • Come from a sales or business development background
  • Understand they are playing an unfair game
  • Understand they are playing with uncertainty
  • Know what they can control
  • Find ways to improve the quality and quantity of the activities they have control over that is going to lead them to the desired end result – which is a byproduct of those activities.

Change Your Strategy

There is no clear strategy to win this job hunting game – that’s the very point of the conditions set by an infinite game.  However, learn to understand that you are playing an infinite game, and change your strategy in accordance with new information.  Be clear about the short-term and long-term outcomes and impacts, as well as the personal consequences. Understand such dynamics that influence personal patterns in decision making and behavior.  Lastly, take action to move toward better understanding and stability in your job hunting process. It’s important to break down infinite games’ as smaller, more controllable finite games, as finite games are played within infinite games.  Job hunting is supposed to be confusing, especially for Product Management, but learn to think and adapt to new conditions with ease, as the field will never stay in place for people to catch up.

Please schedule a call today or RSVP for our next event to see how Product Gym can help you land your next Product Manager job.

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