I apologize for being away for a couple months. I’ve was trying to push new features on my Sequent Admin Portal and actively interviewing for new and exciting Product opportunities at various companies in the valley from small startups to the big giants. After receiving multiple offers, I chose Levi Strauss & Co for my next role. I believe now is the time I’d share some of my experiences with everyone else who may also be on their own search for that exciting new opportunity in product. Keep at it! Gold is 3 feet away!
Some of the most important lessons I learnt to sail through the varied interview processes at different types of companies are as follows:
Know your strengths: When your hard work meets the right opportunity, it clicks! If you are someone who’s starting out their career in product or making a lateral switch to product, I strongly suggest doing side projects to exhibit your strength. But if you are a seasoned Product Manager, you may already know your strengths — is that data analysis? User Experience design? understanding user behavior? Is it having empathy for your customers pain points? Advocating for user research and experimentation or being laser focused on execution? Once you have a clear understanding of your strengths, sell it! Try to find opportunities where they take a chance on you to build skills that may not be your strong suits just yet.
Applying for the right roles: Now that you have a clear understanding of your strengths, apply for roles that will help exhibit those skills. Applying for roles at a whole bunch of companies and expecting calls as always isn’t the right way to go. Make a list of roles and companies who’s vision you believe in and are looking for talented product folks that match your skill set. With the right combination, in no time talent will meet opportunity and you will make an impact on their product.
Keep your favorite recruiters close and your referrals closer: Your network will play a huge role in finding you the right role. Tap into it and maybe it’s your ex-colleague’s friend’s boss who is the hiring manager for the role you’ve been eyeing. I’ve worked with some amazing recruiters in the past who genuinely believe in your skills and will go to any extent to get you visibility to the right hiring managers. If a recruiter reached out to you, even if it isn’t the right role for you, respond to them that you appreciate them considering you for the role and will connect for future roles. This goes a long way!
Okay, now that you have given a couple interviews, you may or may not have received feedback but things aren’t going your way. What do you do? Get feedback!
Mock interviews: Work with other PMs in the industry — friends, colleagues, aspiring PMs to do lots of mock interviews. No amount of working by yourself is going to get you to that dream role. With a strong product community dedicated to making you successful at Product interviews, you are bound to find the folks you want to work with again and again. Work on the feedback they give you and in no time, you will be slaying those product design, estimation and favorite product questions!
If you are lucky, you may have multiple offers in hand. The hard part is still isn’t over yet.
Negotiations: No one wants to have this awkward conversation but this is the most crucial part where you can set yourself up for success or failure. I’m no expert, so I’d suggest that never underestimate your worth and always shoot for higher than what you believe you should ask for. Especially as a woman, I’m apprehensive of being paid equally for my work as well as my worth. Always negotiate with the impact you will make at the role and overall company over the next 3 years.
Don’t get lost in the details: As PMs we are trained to execute at both a strategic and tactical level. When deciding on the role, try to get as much information in advance as possible but eventually it’s about weighing all the factors that go beyond the pay package that will keep you excited to continue working for them — Analyze how the company made you feel through out the interview process, how do employees who have left company feel about the company, that will help you decide if you can picture yourself solving problems day in and day out for them.
Every interview is a learning experience, so keep a journal of the things you believe you did right and could’ve done better. Keep hustling and soon you will land that dream role!