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3 Reasons Why People Stop Looking for PM Roles

Uncategorized Oct 14, 2020

There are three main reasons why product managers hesitate to apply for that next great product management role:

  1. Their experience doesn’t match the job description’s required qualifications: Most of these job descriptions are for the ideal candidate and are not realistic. Do not feel limited by what the job description says because the chance of anyone ever getting any candidate that fulfills all of them is maybe 0.001%.
  2. Lack of technical background: As a product manager, you're responsible for the customer, the business problem, the customer problem, and coordinating and making sure everyone executes so that you deliver the product that matters. You're not responsible for the technical strategy. If you are over-indexing on your technical skills, your career as a product manager will be relatively short.
  3. Lack of confidence: Many people hesitate to apply to large organizations’ roles because they do not have enough faith in their abilities. You're not going to be granted confidence by someone else. You generate confidence by owning up to the work you have already done and working on your psychology. Your subconscious is like a dog; it just needs to be trained through repetition through the right commands.


Hey everyone, it's Shobhit. I hope that you are doing very, very well. Now, today I am live. I just went live impromptu because I was reflecting on as I've been having conversations with various product managers, or really people who are going for a product management role. Whether their first product management role or their next product management role. So often they stop short of applying or they stop short of really going full on with a lot of enthusiasm, with confidence because of three main reasons. And I wanted to tell you about those three reasons and just explore a little bit with you, play a little bit with you, coach you a little bit about why those are some of the worst reasons for not to go for your dreams, for not to go for that awesome product management role.

So let's talk about them. First let me tell you what the three reasons are. Number one, "Shobhit, I don't have enough experience. I don't have the five years of product management experience that the job requires." Second, "I'm not technical enough." Third, I lack the confidence to go for that company. And then maybe fourth is, "I don't have enough brands in my resume." Right? I haven't worked for Google or Facebook before, so why would they take me? So let's start breaking these down, right? Let's begin with number of fears. So have you ever seen a product management role? Right? Let's do an experiment. How about this? Let's do a job search together, shall we? Let's say product manager, and let me see if I can share my screen.

Let's see. No, I can't share my screen [inaudible 00:02:16], but I'm looking at some product management right now. Okay. Product manager, packaging and stationary at Vistaprint. Temporarily remote, near me. Okay, let's look at it. Six to eight years of product management experience combined with P&L management. For a role that purely product manager, not even senior product manager. Product owner, I'm looking at another role. $70,000 a year. Okay, this is fine. Let's see another one. Data product manager, eight plus years experience developing solution sourcing, cleaning and integrating data. Oh, okay. And then what, let me do one more. I'm just reading job descriptions, literally live here. Just because I wanted to see what people are asking for. Product management growth at Zipcar, three to five years of product experience on new product development. So here's the reason why I was reading all these sharp descriptions.

Most of these requirements that you read, they're complete bullshit. They're complete crap. Or they're the ideal candidate. Ideally, if we think anybody had five years of experience, at least they would know the basics. So that's what we put. That's what people want to put. But we just had a person who had, a year or two of product manager experience and my partner and I, we helped him land a senior product management role. Where they were up against a lot of other candidates who maybe had five years of work experience or whatnot. So the point is that don't go by years of experience or never get limited by what the job requirements say. You know why? Because the chance of anyone ever getting any candidate that fulfills all of them are maybe 0.001%. If you take the intersection of everything they put.

So don't you ever believe that you need to be limited by those. Also never, ever be limited by not having a technical background. Why? If you are over-indexing on your technical abilities as a product manager, well then why the bloody hell aren't you a software engineer or a data architect? Those other folks that bring in the technical expertise, those are the ones that figured out how to build stuff. As a product manager, you're responsible for the customer, the business problem, the customer problem and coordinating and making sure everyone executes so that you deliver the product on time. Well, not really on time. You deliver the product that matters. That solves the customer's problem. You're not responsible for the technical strategy. You have to work with engineers, you have to talk with engineers, but if you are over-indexing on your technical skills, your career as a product manager will be relatively short.

You need to be as technical as your customer. And listen, I'm also proof that you actually don't need to be as technical as your customer. My customers, my day job at Google as Crashlytics product manager, they're engineers. They're as technical as technical gets. I'm not that technical, but I'm technical enough. Former engineer, I understand what they do. I understand the pain points. I understand a lot of things. So I'm good that way. But the point is that if you are, for example, building an app, you don't need to be super technical. So never over-index on not having technical skills and let that not stop you in going for your dream as a product manager. Number three, confidence. A lot of people tell me, "Hey, I'm not going forward. You know, Google because I'm not confident enough yet." Well, let me break it to you.

It's not that you're going to just get confidence. It's not that somebody is going to give you confidence. It's not that you're born with confidence. You generate confidence. You generate confidence by owning up, truly owning up and working on your own psychology to truly owning the work that you have already done. The works that you already have. The value that you have already delivered. It doesn't require you to go and do a bunch of additional stuff, it's pure psychology that can be trained. Our mind, our subconscious, it's giving you signals that are making you confident and under-confident. And as a wise man, who I work with said, "Your subconscious, it's like a dog. It just needs to be trained, through repetition through the right commands." So you can become confident, just like I am right now, talking with you.

Do you think I was born confident talking to a camera? No. I've built that over time. You can build confidence for anything, including your job search. The last thing. The last reason why people tell me that they are not going for that next role. And that is that they don't have a solid brand on their resume. Somebody has a strong brand as a business school, maybe a company that they worked for... Whole bunch of things. And it's awesome, it helps, but it's not a necessity. It is not that you have to have it. You can overcome it just like how you would overcome any other shortcomings. So let that also not stop you. Instead, what I want you to do is to focus on the things that really make a difference. So first of all, telling your narrative and your story well. Preparing practicing interviews amazingly well. Building strong communication skills. Networking. Getting the referrals so that you can get in. Trying unconventional techniques. Tapping the hidden job market.

Those are the kinds of things that actually help and that you can influence. And look, I don't live in Lalaland. I don't pretend that if you've never had any product management experience, that you can go and get a job as a director of product management. No, I'm very realistic and very straight with you. But I believe that most of you, or most of the people who I speak to are selling themselves short. Sure, they're applying to a lot of places. I think people apply to hundreds, 200, 300 places. Today I spoke to two people who had applied to that many places. But they haven't truly given it their all. They haven't done the hard work of actually networking. They haven't done the hard work of making themselves so good in interviews that anybody feels that they'll be lucky to have them.

They haven't yet worked on their confidence or their communication skills. That's really where the rubber hits the road, because applying to places has become easy. You can go to LinkedIn easy, apply and apply to so many places. So that's no longer the bar that impresses me. What impresses me is your dedication, your practice in the process that is going to get you the job. And look, let me tell you. When I searched for jobs in my career, the one thing I regret not doing is hiring the best mentor or the best coach. Because frankly speaking, if somebody can help you get a job that is one level above. And one promotion on average in the US at least means about $30,000 in annual compensation. So imagine $30,000 over the course of whatever your career is going to be, every year it's added up, it's compounded do the calculation yourself.

This job search is a process where you need to take all the help you can get and you need to pay and invest for the best help. Of course, I'll leave a link here so you can apply to work with me. I select candidates. I don't work with everyone. I have certain criteria. The biggest one is your passion and me knowing that I can add value to your search because in some cases I just can't. I'm not going to be uniquely suited to help and in that case, I'll politely decline. But if you are qualified for that, I'll set up a call, we'll understand where your career is going, where is it that you want to go?

And if there's ways I can help, I'll certainly show you how, and if not, you would have gained clarity just from speaking with me, like so many people say, "Hey, Shobhit, I know we not working together, but thank you for that call. It really made a difference for me. I feel so much clearer now on what I'm going after." So I'll post the link at the bottom of the video, but remember, don't let number of years of experience, lack of a technical background, lack of confidence and not having brands on your resume, stop you from pursuing your dreams as a product manager. It's Shobhit, and I look forward to speaking with you very, very soon.

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