Product Managers are Truly Versatile Job Seekers
Updated: February 10, 2021 by ProfessionalProductManagement

www.professionalproductmanagement.com In January 2021, per the United States Department of Labor, unemployment rates across the US were still well above pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.[1]

Looking back, by the month of May in, 2020, 30 million people in the United States filed for unemployment benefits[2], and as of January 2021, the number of long term unemployed workers (those out of work for over 27 weeks) remains steady showing that getting back to work is taking some time for many.

In the UK, the government's Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that unemployment in the UK will reach 2.6 million by the middle of 2021, and redundancies were at record levels at the end of 2020.[3]

Similar forecasts across the globe are showing that the impact of job losses due to the pandemic are still very significant, even while other pandemic news regarding vaccines is becoming more and more positive.

As businesses are forced to find ways to keep going with the least possible losses over the COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions and beyond, news reports have shown that many high-tech companies are included in the list of companies reducing staff.

Fortunately, for Product Managers, the skillsets we accumulate during our role is wide ranging. Our skills have built up due to the multitude of different activities and interactions that we do every day. As we go from one Product Management role to another, it’s easy to amass skills that can be used to skip across to a sideways career path, widening the net for the types of roles we can look for when competition heats up.

Each of us likely prefers different parts of the overall Product Management role more than other parts and our skillsets will be a bit stronger in some areas than others.

Here are some positions that match skill sets Product Managers have. Any of these roles can be a natural sideways step that will also round out your career path as you later move upwards in the work force. And during these turbulent times, considering any of these roles will widen your net for jobs to apply for.

Product Marketing Manager
Photo courtesy of Andrew Neel, Unsplash.com
Most Product Managers know how to translate the features that are delivered into benefits of those features as well as use cases of when those benefits are needed.

As a Product Marketing Manager, you’ll do more of that storytelling, and more crafting of messaging for the product.

You’ll also have plenty of opportunity to present to external audiences and bring valuable feedback into the product roadmap. Product Marketing Managers often own or contribute to pricing strategies and are responsible for all sorts of go-to marketing strategies for products and product releases. Many Product Managers do a lot of this already or work very closely with Product Marketing Managers that they partner with on these types of activities.

If you think about how you have handled the last few releases of your product, you’ll probably find that you’ve got enough experience in these areas to tweak your resume, highlight these areas and then apply for a Product Marketing Manager role.

Business Development Manager Photo courtesy of Cytonn Photography, Unsplash.com

Depending on the company, there can be a fine line between the role of the Product Manager and a Business Development Manager.

If you have experience with finding ways to grow the revenue of your products by finding partner opportunities, or researching lead opportunities, this may be a tempting sideways step.
Key skills for a Business Development Manager are building and nurturing key relationships that can grow product revenue.

Project Manager
Photo courtesy of Oladimeji Ajegbile, Unsplash.com
Larger companies when fully staffed generally assign a Project Manager to a product release. If you have great organization skills, are adept at running meetings and keeping them on track and to the point, and you are good at relentlessly following up with people to ensure things get done, then this is another role that you could step sideways into.

Project Management skills are generally required to be a good Product Manager because of all the things we need to keep track of. Perhaps this is an area that you like or do well at and you could focus on this full time.

Marketing Communications Manager
We often think that as Product Managers, we seem to end up doing everything. We certainly have a broad role. But once a product is in the market, in order to get folk to notice it, there’s a lot that goes on in the marketing team that Product Managers, in all sorts of sizes of companies are not always aware of. Sometimes a Product Manager will get asked for his/her perspective on something or may write a white paper or a blog. Personally, I found that on the few occasions I wrote about the industry of my products, the benefits of my products, blogs, white papers, or various pieces of content, I really enjoyed it.

A Marketing Communications Manager will spend a lot of time writing content and this content will be key to getting customers engaged and then interested in getting a product demo or making a purchase.

If you have flawless grammar, you are good at researching to ensure everything you write is factually correct and you have a bit of imagination and creativity, this is a good sideways role to further widen your net for landing a new position.

Technical Marketing Engineer Photo courtesy of Christina at Wocintechchat.com, Unsplash.com

Another widely varying aspect of the Product Manager role from company to company is how hands on and technical a person is with the product. If you are a Product Manager that understands quite deeply how your product was built, how to install it, upgrade it and you have very detailed technical knowledge, then the TME role could be a great sideways move as well.

A Technical Marketing Engineer does a fair amount of what a Product Manager might do but is very hands on knowing the deep technical aspects of a product. A TME knows how to discuss a deployment with a customer and help the customer design their implementation and deployment schedule, and account of all sorts of customer nuances. A TME is a quick thinker, and able to adapt configuration to suit a client and often think outside the box to put him/herself in the customer’s shoes so that the product is deployed in the right way.

Flawless grammar, great presentations skills, an ability to teach the sales team how to sell are important in this role. Many Product Managers who have an engineering background or came from a development background will find they can be an obvious fit for a TME role.

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[1]Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release February, 2021
[2]CNN “What’s Important today,” Sunday May 3, 2020
[3] BBC: Unemployment rate: How many people are out of work April 20, 2020

Photos courtsey of Unsplash.com by Oladimeji Ajegbile, Cytonn Photography, Andrew Neel, Clem Onojeghuo, Markus Winkler and wocintechchat

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