The Product Manager Job Description has a few things in common across companies. Essentially, the Product Manager is the CEO and the janitor of the product.
A Product Manager is expected to be the liaison between the business teams and the development teams.
Product Manager Job Description
The product team is the bridge between all the different stakeholders of a project.
The success of a product rests on the shoulders of a Product Manager.
Equally important, if not more important, is the fact that the failure of a product also rests on the shoulders of a Product Manager.
Nobody wants their product to end up on the list of the top 10 product fails of all time.
Product Manager Roles And Responsibilities
The following expectations are generally mentioned in any product management job description.
The ability to create a product roadmap with a vision for the future is a definite expectation.
The Product Manager not only needs to come up with the vision, but also drive the vision.
The ability to interview multiple stakeholders to try and figure out their underlying problems is an art.
Many times, people tell you what they think could be a good feature, but they are only describing their perceived solution to an underlying problem.
A Product Manager’s job is to figure out that underlying problem.
Then, the product team needs to brainstorm various ideas to come up with a solution to that underlying problem.
The product team may very well choose a completely different solution. The customer’s proposal can act as a benchmark, but doesn’t have to be the main solution.
Manage Resistance To Change
This soft skill is very rare. We can only find it in the best of Product Managers.
This skill is at the heart of driving the vision.
There will always be people who are comfortable with the way things are going and will not like any new ideas that the product team comes up with.
The key here is to remain calm and firm.
Change doesn’t happen overnight.
The Product Manager needs to keep on driving the conversation, and trying to brainstorm as much as possible. The ultimate goal is to move forward, to disrupt the status quo.
Effective and efficient stakeholder management is the basic expectation from any and every Product Manager.
Stakeholders can be the external customers, the developers and even the leadership team.
The art of influencing without authority can be very useful here.
Everyone has their idea of doing things.
The Product Manager’s job is to figure out the common ground and then move up from there.
Product Life Cycle Management
Every Product Manager should know how to effectively manage the entire product life cycle.
The product may succeed or it may fail. Either way, the product team must be aware of all the metrics and indicators that point to a change in the stage of a product’s life cycle.
The applicability of each of the above requirement can be different depending on the seniority of the role.
Let us cover the seniority aspect in the next section.
Product Manager Role vs Product Owner Role
It is important for everyone in the fields of product management and project management to be clear about the following differences.
Many job descriptions use these 2 titles interchangeably.
However, every candidate should keep in mind that the Product Owner roles is generally junior to the Product Manager role.
During the interview stage, it is best to ask up front the exact roles and responsibilities expected of the candidate.
However, the underlying product skills are common.
One major difference is that everyone already expects a Product Manager to display product leadership qualities.
Product Manager Minimum Qualifications
Before I move on, I want to state that there is no defined educational criteria to hire a Product Manager.
Product management courses do exist.
But it depends on an individual’s specific environment whether or not a course would be beneficial.
The point of this article is to point out the generic minimum qualifications that most product management job descriptions have.
Here are some minimum qualifications –
- Educational Qualifications – A technical degree or a technical background is preferred. Some companies also may prefer an MBA candidate.
- Travel – Ability to travel as per the job is a reasonable qualification. Some stakeholders may require a face to face meeting. Though, with more and more companies working from home, this has changed the product management landscape. Here is a good article on these changes.
- Communication Skills – I have never seen a Product Manager job description that does not specifically mention the expectation of excellent communication skills. Being able to clearly communicate is a necessity in every thing a Product Manager does. Whether it is writing a business requirements document (BRD) or creating the product backlog, crystal clear communication is a no brainer.
- Data Driven – A Product Manager, when faced with many conflicting opinions, must take all decisions based on data. Yes, product intuition is also important, but it should be used in conjunction with data.
- Prioritization – Ability to distinguish in-scope features and out of scope features is very important for the product team. Sometimes, a Product Manager must simply say no. Taking difficult decisions is also a valid expectation from any Product Manager.
Product Manager Job Description – Conclusion
Here is a sample of the job description that a candidate can expect.
Before any interview, every candidate should take out time to fully research the job description.
The job description may seem generic, but each line in it carries a specific intent.
Many people just skim through the roles and responsibilities without fully grasping the significance of each item.
If there is a requirement for coding skills, then don’t ignore that requirement. Never assume that a product management job doesn’t require coding skills.
The requirement has been mentioned there because the interviewer genuinely expects you to know how to code.
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