Crafting the ultimate personal story to land Product Management Jobs

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The thing with Product Management is that it never is just one skill. It is always an overlap of different skills and expertise

craft personal story to land PM jobs

You’ve worked hard and acquired the necessary skills required to excel at your next job, as a Product Manager. You’ve understood the nuances, looked at different strategies, and even learnt using many product managers’ personal growth stories. That’s all good, and all of that will definitely help during your interview.

However, to increase your chances of selection, you’ll have to do a spectacular job of marketing yourself. How do you talk about your career journey so far - what are the elements to pick and elaborate on? How to weave a narrative around your career progression so far, to market yourself as just the right candidate for a Product Manager role? 

By crafting a personal story. 

The thing with Product Management is that it never is just one skill. It is always an overlap of different skills and expertise - from technical know-how to management knowledge, from financial insights to just leading the way for the team - a Product Manager wears different hats throughout their role. And that is precisely why it’s important to ensure that your story touches all the different aspects of your skills, all of the different roles you’ve worked on over the years, and how has all of it weighed in on shaping up the final you - the you that’s sitting for the interview.

Let’s craft the ultimate personal story for you.

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Framing the story

You’re both the hero as well as the narrator of your story. Even as a Product Manager, most of your job will be around communicating with different teams. Passing on the information acquired from technical teams to management teams, from finance teams to marketing teams, and knowledge managers to knowledge absorbers/users. For this, you’ll need to have strong storytelling skills, so that you can bring all the teams on one page. 

Likewise, during the interview, for framing the story, follow a three-step approach.

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Step 1: The Context

The context of the story is extremely important, as it factors in elements like the previous companies you’ve worked at, some of the most significant projects you’ve handled, and some challenges that you might have faced.

The context-setting should be comprehensive, but not too long. This is just the beginning, and the intent is to reinforce that you know what you’re talking about - you’ve had your share of struggles and successes, and you’ve learned from them. 

Note that in this section, you’re answering the what, when, and where of your professional background.

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A few effective ways to set context:

  • I started working {x} years ago.
  • My first company was {y} where I was working as a {z}.
  • I was also responsible for managing and coordinating tasks between different teams, and this has taught me a lot about Product Management.
  • I next switched to another company where I got an opportunity to polish my Product Management skills even further. 
  • Slowly build using all these points and arrive at where you are today.

Step 2: Increasing Awareness

Once you’ve set the context, now is the time to talk about how you’re currently performing product-related tasks, and briefly explain your current job role and requirements.

The purpose of this section of the story is to establish the ‘how’. How did you tackle different challenges in your current job role? How do you ensure streamlined Product Management? What processes do you follow? This can also include simple KPIs to give an idea of the success of the products you’ve worked on.

In doing so, you’re not only bringing your expertise to the table, but also explaining how you’re aware of important KPIs and showing that you have proven success at delivering impact and driving teams forward. 

Some ways to demonstrate awareness:

  • Your current / or most relevant products.
  • Different business divisions you’ve supported or worked with. 
  • Experience of working in cross-functional teams. For example: working with different roles, such as engineers, testers, business analysts, marketers, etc. 
  • Some KPIs that you measure for a product's success, and how you went about measuring and tracking said KPIs, as well as learning from when these metrics moved in unexpected ways.

Please note:

Product Manager candidates come from all sorts of different backgrounds. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That said, the idea is to bring your specific expertise and experience to the table. You might have had past experiences that were more focused on one particular phase of Product Development, instead of the entire cycle. In such a scenario, feel free to talk about that particular phase and how you maneuvered through it. 

However, at the end, make sure to establish a breadth of experience to prove that you got experience with the complete product pipeline.

Step 3: The Climax

Now comes the part that’ll seal the deal for your interview. 

Once you’ve completed setting the story and raising awareness, now is the time for the climax of your professional story. This is where you reveal the reasons why you are leaving your current company, and why you’re just the perfect fit for the role at hand.

At this point, it’d help if you’ve thoroughly researched the company you’re interviewing for, as well as their requirements from the Product Manager. That way, you’ll be able to tie the entire narrative perfectly well with the company’s needs.

Remember, you’re the hero of the store and you are the protagonist. This section is what conveys the “why”! Make it strong. 

Some pointers to include:

  • Talk in brief about the learnings you’ve acquired from your current job, the kinds of professional growth and environment you’re looking for, and some challenges that you faced in the current role.
  • Explain how your skills and learnings align perfectly well with the requirements of the company. 
  • Re-iterate your growth as a Product Manager, and how, after accumulating all the learnings, you’d want to expand your horizons and move on to bigger challenges.

In conclusion

Collate all the steps mentioned throughout the article under “some pointers to include”, and you’ll have a story template for you to use. This template, with added modifications, should be the story you tell during your interviews. 

Does it sound a bit like elevator pitch?

It should. Because the purpose of this story is to showcase your previous accomplishments, expertise, current skill sets, future goals, and more. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the story before saying it out loud.