Five Mistakes in Looking for a Product Management Role

Searching for new positions and the interviewing process in itself can be a grueling task. It can become mundane and joyless.

We believe it should not be this way. When we get it right, we can love the job search process, we can get over disappointments faster, and we can ultimately make more money and achieve higher levels in our careers.

There are five mistakes that I have seen many product managers or aspiring product managers make, which cost them a great deal of grief and stress. And not to say missing out on dream jobs and compensation increases worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars over their career.

Clicking the Easy Button

I often ask my clients about their target list of companies when they search for their next dream job. I find that most product managers are pursuing companies that are easier to get into rather than prioritizing the positions that would make them happiest.

It is tempting to take the easy route. Although clicking the “easy apply” button to thirty jobs a day may seem like the most straightforward route in the short term, it will likely get you to a role that’s EASY to get rather than it is the one you want. Being intentional and strategically applying for positions that get you where you dream should be the number one priority.

Completing a Check the Box Exercise

Job requirements can often be to the detriment of product managers. When being in the midst of the job search process, it is easy to go on autopilot. Checking off the boxes of qualifications becomes second nature.

To the surprise of many, hiring managers are not always looking for someone who checks all of the boxes. More often than not, they want to be inspired by someone. They want to be motivated. Most of all, they want to hire someone they want to work with.

One of my students landed a role at Amazon. After being in this role for a while, he would continuously say how much it changed his life. He claimed the emotional connection he made with his hiring managers got him there, and I could not agree more. He had to do the work and interview well. But if there was an area he may not have “checked the box” in, it did not matter because he knew how to tell his story well.

Your interviewers want to be motivated and inspired by you.

100% Strategy, with No Focus on Performance Psychology

This mistake is vital for everyone, not just product managers. When we only focus on strategy, we get stuck in our stress bubbles. We focus on completing task after task and can lack enjoyment in our daily lives.

On the other hand, when we get this right, we show up better than ever. We can live more stress-free lives. While action steps and strategy are vital, we can only get so far without the correct psychology.

When I align my performance psychology with how I want to deliver and how I want to show up, my outcome will be dramatically better.

Getting Trapped in the Framework

I often see interviewers get trapped in frameworks.

See, the goal is not to be good at applying frameworks to answer the question.

It’s to become a great product thinker and to demonstrate that in the interview.

But it happens.

It happens because most of the time, people get stuck at the level of conscious competence. This means that while they have the competence needed, they have to think about it continuously. While this may not sound so bad, one must also realize that there is a better way.

Unconscious competence is the goal. This means that we are competent without having to spend all of our focus on our next steps. At this level, we can be confident in our knowledge, and it flows through us. Responses no longer have to be planned out; you can adapt to the situation faster.

No Feedback from People that Matter

Practicing with peers can be a vital asset; however, who will challenge you to do better if you consistently practice with peers at the same level? Gaining feedback from experts who know what it takes to land you the role is the goal. Interview coaching is proven to be the highest return of investment in one’s career.

Be intentional about the jobs you’re going after.

A Product Manager I worked with was having difficulty with a lot of these mistakes. He and I began sifting through each of these mistakes and checked them off one by one. At the end of it all, he ended up in a position that was one level higher than his goal and making $100K more per year. This outcome was the result of him recognizing and avoiding these mistakes.

We all can be in the positions that are best for us. Ones that make us happy and fulfilled. Combatting these mistakes and being intentional with this process is how we can get there.

If you liked the blog post, you would love my free workshop, “5 Steps our Product Manager Clients Take to Land Their Dream Job, Increase Their Salary by 200%+, and Accelerate Their Career. Go ahead, enroll now!

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Shobhit Chugh

Founder at Intentional Product Manager (http://www.intentionalproductmanager.com). Product @Google, @Tamr, @Lattice_Engines, @Adaptly. Worked at @McKinsey