“I have applied for more than 50 product openings, but not even a single response.”
Applying for PM opportunities is no less than a marathon. In this article, I have shared a few tips on how and where to get started when exploring suitable opportunities in the product management domain. To deep dive into this topic you may also refer to my next 2 articles in this series:
- Do you have that “perfect resume” to apply for your PM job?
- Do you need a good digital profile to land a PM job?
So let us get started with the “Job search” process.
Job search is practically a full-time job in itself. It can be an overwhelming process but you can make it easier by mastering the search and application process.
1. Selective application
You might be tempted to flood the job market with applications and resumes as you don’t want to limit your chances of landing an opportunity, but blindly applying to any and every position that you come across doesn’t usually yield good results. Don’t apply to just any company. With the help of the following criteria, you can make a list of your own target companies:
- Which industries, companies and products are you passionate about or match your interests?
- Which industries will get the most value from your skillset/past experience?
- What types of positions are you suited for?
- What size of company do you want to work for, i.e. seed-funded/ series A start-up, series B and beyond, corporate
Guidelines that can help you with the above questions:
|Entrepreneurial Outlook, Growth Mindset||Learning||Early-stage startup|
|Problem Solving, Tech lovers||Salary||Funded start-up|
|Process orientation, People Management||Growth||Corporate|
PS: This is the author’s opinion and can’t be generalized.
2. Optimizing your application process
Optimizing your application strategy can significantly increase your likelihood of finding and ultimately landing better opportunities. When it comes to making a target list of companies where you would like to apply for a product role, the following considerations might help. Focus on such companies where the below characteristics work in your favor. There is a strong likelihood that these companies will give you a chance even if you don’t have the ideal background.
Look for Leadership teams with work experience/education background like yours.
For e.g. It has been observed that founders from IVY League colleges prefer candidates from similar alma matter.
Similarly, a product leader who was previously into product designing is far more likely to believe that someone with a designing background will succeed in a PM role.
Doing some research on LinkedIn will help you know about the top executives at your target company. You may also get some useful information about the startup leadership team from Crunchbase. It would be good to know if the background of the CEO or the head of the product has something in common with you.
Industry (relative to your experience/skills)
Look at what customers they serve and problems they solve for their customers (and how your experience/skills can give them a unique advantage).
For e.g. Bankers would stand a better chance in a fin-tech start-up rather than a gaming company. And similarly, an ed-tech company will prefer someone with a background in instructional designing.
3. Look in the right places
You can’t apply to your dream job if you don’t know where to look for. Your first step should be to identify and sign up for the job search websites that list the types of jobs you’re looking for.
Be specific when using search engines to locate PM positions. There are different industries/sectors that have product manager requirements, so narrowing your search parameters with keywords may help you navigate to your perfect job in a sector that interests you.
Few examples of job portals that you may want to refer to as per your target industry:
- Pragmatic Leaders Jobs: Product Manager jobs across industry
- MindTheProduct: Product Manager jobs with more of a sustainability bent
- Glassdoor: Product Manager roles in the automotive sector
- Angel.co: Product Manager jobs in the startup sector
- Indeed: Product Manager jobs in industries like IT
Use a variety of search techniques such as talking to friends, family, and business contacts about different employers and attending in-person networking events, conferences, and industry gatherings.
This offers a couple of benefits: helps you find an opportunity that you may have not otherwise known or your connection could help with a personal recommendation within the company to help you score that job.
You can effectively network by regularly connecting with people on social media.
Research your desired industry and follow the experts.
Once you have your target employer list ready, research on companies, organizations, and individuals you’re interested in and follow them on various social mediums like Linkedin, facebook, twitter, etc.
Having a LinkedIn profile has become indispensable for any professional.
Join and participate in product management and other relevant groups on Linkedin to connect with industry experts, increase your visibility to recruiters and hiring managers, and make other Linkedin connections that could offer potential job opportunities.
Find out the thought leaders in the domains you’re interested in.
Follow them and also find out if they have blogs or other platforms they are active on or contribute to through their writings or podcast. Engage with their content by sharing their posts, asking questions, and contributing to conversations. Additionally, receiving mentoring and support from the Leaders can play an important role and help you grow in the career.
I always share the following advice to our learners at Pragmatic Leaders:
- Make an employer’s target list and start following those companies on Linkedin
- This will help you familiarize yourself with the company’s vision, processes and most importantly keep you updated in case of job openings
- You may also join the company’s Linkedin group and start contributing to the posts
- This way you will also be able to cultivate contacts in that company. And you never know one of these connects might recommend you for a suitable job opening there or share some valuable insight that can help you in the interview process
Once you have developed a list of target employers and also connected with the right people for those opportunities, comes the application process.
So let’s take the next step towards your dream job by building a perfect resume.