Have you ever struggled with assessing your experience level and finding the right role to apply to? Should you start by searching for APM roles, or try going for a first-time Product Manager role right away? We get it. It’s difficult to assess how skilled and experienced you are when applying to a Product Manager job given the general ambiguity and exaggeration of the current job postings.
How to Assess Your Experience for PM and APM Roles
Ideally, you wouldn’t want to sell yourself short by starting a role that requires less than what you can give and potentially lose on the income that you could be making elsewhere. But you also wouldn’t want to waste your time and energy applying for positions that are well beyond your skill and knowledge level. Let’s start by focusing on the people who should be aiming for APM roles. Here we have three categories.
1. No Product Exerience
The first category is those who don’t have enough experience when it comes to working in product. If you believe you don’t have knowledge and work history to speak about the product you were involved with in-depth, you should consider APM roles.
Be cautious here, though! Being experienced doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be employed for a certain number of years with the Product Manager title. If you have been working with teams and bringing people together to build products or design processes, you will have sufficient experience for a Product Manager role.
Many people involved in team projects in MBA programs, graduate schools, or even during college have valuable experience when it comes to leading a product. You don’t necessarily need the title to be considered for a Product Manager role, so don’t sell yourself short.
You should be, however, able to speak about your relevant responsibilities in a very particular way. The way you relate your previous roles will determine if you can make the cut for a Product Manager job.
2. Resume Level: Novice
If you are at a novice level when it comes to your resume, you should consider an APM role instead. Essentially, Associate Product Managers require more guidance and mentorship as they are new to the task and its responsibilities. An APM role will be a better environment for you to learn the ropes and begin to develop the soft skills and general work experience that will prepare you for a Product Manager role.
To be able to go from an APM role to the PM level, consider building up your projects and resume. This way, you will have relevant projects that you can talk about in great detail.
3. Changing Industry
The next category is those who are making a paralell career move, or a significant change in terms of the industry they are going for.
For example, if you are in adtech and want to get into fintech, you might be underqualified compared to the other candidates who have experience in finance. If you are passionate about the industry and feel like you need more guidance, you might want to go for an APM role instead.
Another case of a paralell move would be going from a non-technical role to a technical one. This concerns people who have the people skills essential for product management — like customer service reps and HR professionals — but don’t have the technical background to understand the workings of a product. These people have the social skills to function in a team environment, but they will probably need some hand-holding when it comes to understanding technical details.
Given the current industry and the rise of tech, it should be no surprise that at least 90% of the current Product Manager job postings are for a technical product, be it software or hardware. Therefore, you should be educated enough to deliver on the job, and the best way to get that necessary tech experience is through working with experienced people.
Learn More About APM Roles
This is a part of our Associate Product Manager discovery series with Chris Beck. Here’s the full video coverage of today’s article:
Assessing your readiness for a particular role might look challenging, but if you follow these guidelines, you should be on track.
People often get discouraged after reading the job description and finding out that they don’t have what they are asking for. This is common to everyone, and nobody is perfect! Everyone has a missing point when it comes to fulfilling some random job requirement list, no matter what role you’re looking at.
The only important thing you should be focusing on is assessing if you are ready, willing, and able to do the job. By evaluating your involvement in various projects, your gut should tell you whether you are prepared to go for a PM role or whether require more mentorship (in which case APM roles are the better option).
If you are still in the self-doubt stage and have trouble navigating your Product Manager job hunt, we are here to help! Schedule a free career coaching session with our in house team today: we’d love to help answer any questions you have about APM roles, Product Manager job hunting, or your career in general.