Q&A: Should I take a different role before applying to become a product manager?

People sometimes ask me for career advice. Here’s a recent question:

Hi Jock,

I’m an entrepreneur, product/program manager and hardcore gamer. I’m facing a dilemma in my career’s direction. I’m split between my love for the game industry (dreaming of launching a game with a team), and my passion for product management (I would love to be a PM for a tech company).

I’ve applied to both the game industry for producer positions (no PM there), and to tech companies for PM roles. Got a few interviews for PM, but I may lack experience. On the other hand, I’ve got an offer in a big game studio for a production coordinator role (about project and people management, primarily). My manager is experienced and believes in me, and it would be for a triple A game.

I would see myself being a product manager for a tech company, or a game director in a studio. So not only managing projects and teams, but also having a vision for the product/games, researching the market, coming up with features, roadmaps, and so on. I feel I already have a good “product sense”, but I may be lacking in terms of experience, management (especially with engineers), and leadership.

Do you feel being a production coordinator would be a good or at least relevant move toward this career?

Thanks for your help,

Y

Read on for my reply.

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Q&A: What skills do I need to be a freelance product manager?

People ask me from time to time about how they can get into freelance product management. Here’s a recent question:

Hi Jock,

I’ve been working as a product manager for 5 years now. I worked in different industries (financial, loyalty, media, fintech) and now I am starting to manage a team of product managers and setting up a product team as a senior product manager, as well as managing my own product.

I was thinking about starting consulting in 2-3 years of time. What are the skill sets I need to focus on and improve during this time period?

Thanks,

N

Read on for my reply.

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Q&A: How do I make myself more suitable for a senior product role in UK government?

Here’s a question I’ve been asked recently:

Hi Jock,

I’d appreciate your advice on working for the GDS and different ministries. I have recently applied for senior positions (Deputy Director and Head of Product) at GDS and another UK government department.

On both occasions I was told that while I had the skills, my previous products had not been used by the millions of users, rather the hundreds of thousands, and therefore I was not considered the right person for the role.

This seems unusual given that building for 6 figure as oppose to 7 figure usage would not make that much difference in my opinion.

Could you recommend anything I could do to improve my suitability for next time a role like that comes available?

Many thanks,

D

Read on for my reply.

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38: Product managers learn by doing

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

Many years ago, my parents bought me my first PC. It was fairly pricy at the time, and represented the end of my reliance on stolen minutes on other people’s computers. And because I’m a muppet, the very first thing I did was to brick it by attempting an ill-advised upgrade.

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35: Product management skills to pay the bills


This content was originally published more than five years ago and is archived here for preservation.

More up-to-date content is available on this blog.


I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

So you want to become a product manager?  Good for you!  But how do you know you’re ready to move into a product management job?  Here are some suggestions to start you on the right track.

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