Growing Your Product Management Career During Challenging Times

It's a fact that, more often than not, we face various career challenges. Recently there's been a plethora of challenges facing humanity.

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Take a look back at 2019 when Covid-19 hit. There was a drastic drop in hiring as companies tried to determine how they would make things work. Companies that relied on person-to-person interaction just went bankrupt. Other companies slowed hiring and became highly cautious. Many people were searching for jobs, competing for every position.

Then, moving into 2021, things started to look up. There was a lack of candidates, and companies were doing whatever possible to get a candidate. Suddenly there was a supremely inflated job market where companies woke up to the fact that they had not hired much and needed to catch up.

Now it's 2022, and seemingly, we are on the cusp of a recession. The economy is down, stocks are down, and companies are beginning layoffs. Talk about challenging times.

The fact is that when there is a storm, the chinks in the armor start to show. You begin to see when there are gaps in your knowledge, skill sets, and ability to interview, sell yourself and express what makes you unique.

One core question you need to ask yourself is, Are your career skills, and is your mindset set up to succeed in these trying times?

Is your mindset able to tackle when market conditions change? Or will you curl into a ball and cry, 'This sucks!'?

I will give you five ways to ensure your career thrives during these trying times.

Know your value proposition

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Knowing your value proposition is especially important for people who have substantial experience. When you started in product management, you were a product manager. But as you go further into your career, you need to determine the unique skills and experiences that you bring to the table that make you different based on things you've done, what you know or what you've built your reputation on.

Some people have built their careers based on 0–1 products. They are great at initially determining the customer value proposition and initial paying points and then can rally a team around that vision and successfully bring the product to market.

Some are experts in cyber security with large networks of contacts. Others are outstanding leaders, coaches, and teambuilders.

Focus and own your skills and articulate your unique story and your value proposition. Be creative in your experience. When times are demanding, companies can be more selective. Cultivate your understanding of your uniqueness and value proposition, and communicate it excellently.

Focus on building and leveraging your network

Now is the time to strengthen relationships, not let them go. People with strong networks and communication skills can outperform others during these times. Reciprocity is crucial during these times. Build your networks at your current company and outside. Not building your network is the equivalent of not making your reputation.

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Focus on adding value

Start by finding ways to add value to your current company. Make your execution solid. Drive results and value for the company.

Next, find ways to lead your company through these trying times. Notice what's working and what's not, and what generates sales. Most people start to focus on the negative and lose focus on adding value to their careers. Now is the perfect time to add value to your career.

Focus on your psychology and mindset

One of the main things that go up during these times is people's news consumption.

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The news is hyper-exaggerated with negativity. Our minds are hardwired to focus on the negative. It is a basic survival instinct. It's normal; it's natural. But, people bent towards the negative are now consuming more negativity.

Learn to limit your news intake and put things in context.

During Covid, people were dying and being laid off. There were hiring freezes and company shutdowns. What percentage of the tech industry has been laid off? Not that much. That is where you need to put your focus: the jobs that are there, not the layoffs.

Limit your harmful intake and ensure your psychology is vital during this time.

Balance patience and hunger

Patience for results. Hunger for action. That is the recipe all of the time.

It is more challenging during trying times.

On average, you can expect the job search to take approximately two months longer than before. Sometimes when interviewing with a company, you think you will receive an offer, and then at the last minute, they back out. At this moment, it is essential to acknowledge that you are an excellent candidate for that job. That is how you came as far as you did in the interview process.

When you reflect upon the facts from a place of balance, you can see that it was just a blip. That was not just a novel job that gives you a constant paycheck; it was the career you chose.

Keep your psychology strong.

Because of the time, it takes to find a job; it is essential to find healthy ways to balance this hunger with patience to keep yourself focused and centered. Maintain routines that keep you in a positive mindset. Understand things from the entire context, not just the negative.

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Be mindful of what you are watching. The more you focus on the news, the more negative things become. It is essential to have a balanced positive view.

Your mindset is more important than your strategy.

As a bonus…

Never stop learning and growing.

Now is the optimal time to accelerate your learning. Looking at great companies, you can see that during these times, they acquired great talent and resources and all of the right things so they could thrive when the economy turned around.

If you want to accelerate your career, I encourage you to book a breakthrough session with my team. We can help you understand what is going on and help determine what is working, what is not, and what you need to succeed.

If there are ways we can help, then we will.



Founder at Intentional Product Manager ( Product @Google, @Tamr, @Lattice_Engines, @Adaptly. Worked at @McKinsey

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Shobhit Chugh

Founder at Intentional Product Manager ( Product @Google, @Tamr, @Lattice_Engines, @Adaptly. Worked at @McKinsey