The job market is competitive. It’s not always easy to keep up with it. The job hunt struggle has always been real. Whether you’re working towards scoring your first job, getting the dream position at an awesome company, or trying to change careers, it’s never been easy. Two years ago, Product School published a survey asking product managers what their dream companies to work for were. Some companies that they would dream of working for are Disney, SpaceX, or FitTech. Unfortunately, It’s not always easy to get a job in these companies. Required skills are numerous, and competition is high. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Having a dream job doesn’t always have to be a… dream. It takes persistence and effort.
I stumbled upon a great post on LinkedIn the other day. Product coach Robin Zaragoza from the Product Refinery has conducted a survey questioning what was stopping product managers from getting their dream jobs. The outcome is the following:
· I don’t have the experience- 33%
· I’m applying, but no offers yet- 33%
· I don’t know what I want next- 20%
· I don’t have time to search- 13%
The lack of experience seems to be the main obstacle between product managers and getting their dream job, followed by not getting any offers. So how can you change that and make it through the selection process?
No one said getting these in-demand jobs was going to be easy. Landing a job in your favourite company, in your favourite position comes with challenges. But don’t give up just yet. I’ve gathered the following tips to help you turn that dream into reality.
1: Think about your dream job.
Identifying your dream job is the first step. It’s simple. Think about what makes you happy first and what position you’d like to see yourself in. You’ll have to put in the extra effort to get that job. For that, you’ll need to aim for a job where you’ll feel comfortable, fulfilled, and motivated to make a change in your life.
And don’t settle for less—Aim high. But remain realistic. If you’re just kickstarting your career in product management, getting a position at Spotify or Facebook is maybe too ambitious (but still not impossible, don’t get me wrong).
2: Get more experience by volunteering
Now you know what your dream job is. What’s the next step? Most jobs will require you to have some sort of experience beforehand in order to hand you the job. When it comes to a meticulous position such as product manager, the requirement is even stricter.
Maybe, you found incredible job opportunities but don’t feel confident enough to apply because you lack some skills in some areas. But there’s no reason for you just to sit there and wait for these skills to develop themselves.
In order to become a better and more skilled product manager, work on these required skills. Maybe start by teaching it to others first. Learning by teaching has always proven to be very efficient. You can offer to mentor an aspiring product manager. In that way, you’ll be able to learn more yourself as well.
How do you find a product manager to mentor? Maybe you’ll find an aspiring product manager in your organisation. You can also try looking into product management Slack communities like our very own dualoop slack community or other communities like Mind The Product. Maybe check out platforms like Mentoring Club on LinkedIn to find aspiring product managers you can work with. Publishing a post on your LinkedIn will also do the job.
3: Rework your CV
It’s obvious. It’s simple. But it’s also sometimes very neglected. Your CV is like your passport. A tiny mistake on it can cost you your journey. Always make sure your CV is fit for the position you are applying for. Also, if you’re applying for a job in a foreign country, make sure to check their requirements. The same job you’re applying for in the UK will require a different CV than if that job was based in Belgium.
4: Complete your LinkedIn profile
Long were the days you printed your CV and handed your application in at the office. Everything happens online today. Especially on LinkedIn. This powerful tool has allowed numerous people to get their dream job. But only if it’s done correctly. Regarding LinkedIn, Diego Granados suggests you:
- Have every section completed (photo, header, education, skills, etc.).
- Have your header include relevant keywords.
- Have your summary used for keywords + projects & transferable skills
- Add relevant skills & more context under each job.
- Turn on Open To Work.
5: Work on your interview skills
Being good at interviews and selling yourself are critical elements to scoring that dream job. You may lack skills in some areas, but impressing the interviewer could land you the job. Do you believe you’re presenting and showcasing the best version of yourself at interviews?
Arrive at your interview prepared and confident, research the company, and memorise the job offer. Have an idea about what the company is expecting from you. Check what other employees say about the company online. Finally, be prepared to answer any tricky question. It’s crucial to be effective at your interviews.
It would be a shame to miss out on landing that dream job because of poor interview skills. Some questions are recurrent. Always have answers ready when you’ll be asked to talk about yourself, why you choose to work in product management or why you applied for that company.
There are a lot of ways to improve your interview skills. I’d suggest you check these tips on how to prepare your interview.
6: Start a side project
Does your dream job require some specific skills, and your current role in your company does not allow you to develop skills you would like to work on? Having a side project might be the best help you can find right now. Dave Jarman’s TedTalk about why you should start a side project is very interesting.
Why is starting a side project relevant in this case? Doing a side project means you’ll be practising a career you haven’t had yet. It can help you succeed slowly towards your goal of a dream job. Most people tend to call it a hobby, but Dave Jarman says to consider it more like a venture.
One key element with your side project is to be patient. Having a day job at the same time will inevitably make your side project advance slower. You won't have much time for it, and you’ll have to do your side project on the sidelines. So there is no need to rush things; you just have to work it over time.
What are the elements of making a good side project?
The following elements Dave Jerman mentions lift out what might be considered a hobby or an amateur activity into something credible:
- Personal passion: your side project has to be something you’re passionate about. If it’s not a topic you’re interested in, the chances are that it will likely fail. It will require discipline. You will have to devote yourself and time to it. For example, you might have to wake up early in the morning hours before starting your day job to fulfil your daily activity that day. If you’re not enjoying it or think it’s not giving you enough, it’s better to stop it and move on to something else. It’s a sign of lack of interest.
- Professional competence: you have to have some sort of skills to start that side project. Let’s say you want to launch a website to sell your graphic design services? Having skills in HTML and coding a website will help you tremendously and make your project move quicker.
- Tomorrow’s plan: in the long run, you will learn new skills. The previous element was about existing skills. However, having a side project will also allow you to develop more skills if you invest yourself in it. Dave gives the example of Hollie. She launched a food blog and knew how to cook already. However, her side project also taught her how to use social media. She took photography courses in order to make the blog and her picture look better. She invested her time to acquire new skills and used her side project as a stepping stone in developing her future.
7: Work for a start-up
Productschool’s survey shows that many product managers would love to work in a startup. Starting your career by working in a startup can be very rewarding. It’s cool because you’re helping a young company build themselves. A start-up’s mindset is very different from these big multinational companies. Start-ups allow you to have more responsibilities and more freedom, especially to work from wherever and whenever you want. You’ll also be working with different teams and develop skills in various aspects of the business and try different roles. Start-ups provide you with a lot of opportunities.
You’re working on something brand new and helping them build their success quickly. You will also be a part of a younger workforce. You will be less scared to make mistakes working for a start-up since everyone is learning. If you’re just kickstarting your career, aiming for a startup can be a good idea and will look incredible on your CV for the future.
We’re always hiring at dualoop.
8: Figure out why
Are you applying for several jobs but seem to be never getting any offers or follow-ups?
One of the reasons could be that you're aiming too high and applying for jobs that do not match your skills or experience. Or maybe you cannot articulate your strengths, skills, and experience during your interviews.
You can seek an external evaluation to pinpoint the problem you’re facing. You can ask for help from experienced recruiters and analyse your application and interview methods. Zaragoza also suggests asking a product leader about what you might be doing wrong in your applications. Some services also offer product leadership coaches that will help you progress in your career.
9: Don’t stop trying
The ultimate tip would be to not to give up. There is no reason for you to give up because of repeated failures. Work hard. Work on your skills. Have more experience. Apply as much as you can. It's only a matter of time until the company of your dreams hires you. Things don't always go according to plan, and being prepared for setbacks is essential in your career's long journey. Make sure to have a good support system in case of any failure. All good things come to those who wait (and persist).
It’s only a matter of time
No one said getting your dream job would be easy. It takes persistence, work, and time to attain your goal. There isn’t one solution to getting your dream job. Sometimes, unexpected opportunities can come out of nowhere. Always trust your luck. Product manager roles are on the rise. That’s why dualoop was also born. It's definitely worth putting the extra effort into getting your dream job.