Building your resume can be an overwhelming task. From the layout, design, font styles and your list of experiences. What are the most important factors?
Senior Technical Product Manager at eBay advises you to treat your resume as a product. Develop it using the same mindset you would when building a product.
Here are other crucial tips that she shared with our community of aspiring product managers.
Shanea is currently the Senior Technical Product Manager at eBay. Before this, she worked at Google from 2013 to 2017 holding multiple positions including Technical Product Manager and Product/Program Manager. Shanea holds a Bachelors in Computer Science, and in Business.
Why and how did you break into product management?
Before Google, I was a product analyst. Then I started a digital marketing agency. I actually started as an AdWords community manager answering questions on the forum, so I was learning about customers for about six months. Then I became a program manager in the developer relations department for about two years where I led online training for developers.
That’s when I decided I wanted to be a Product Manager, but I didn’t work on technical products. I started with a degree in Business and then taught myself to code. Now I’m back in school getting a CS degree.
What is the distinction between Technical Product Manager vs. Product Manager?
A technical product manager is expected to work on actual software. This can be anything including API’s. It wasn’t easy to transition. It took about a good solid six months to a year of interviewing to get the job.
What did you do to show that you could code?
I talked about technical projects. I didn’t have technical projects at first. So, I found a job that allowed me to work on something technical.
In your current position, are you expected to code?
No, I’m not expected to code, but I am expected to know how software works and make tradeoffs.
In what ways did you learn to code on your own?
I took every online course under the sun. But what many people don’t talk about is the current online courses don’t teach you fundamental skills, such as, computational thinking, logic, whole systems, etc. It only leaves you with a bunch of gaps in enterprise software which is why I went back to get a CS degree.
Do you know any particular books, websites, etc. that would be helpful?
Cracking the Product Manager Interview was helpful. Find a friend in product that you can practice interviewing with, go to events and listen to speakers.
What are some of the most frequently used skills in your daily job?
Convincing people that my ideas are the way to go. Also, politics, influencing and presenting to folks while looking confident.
Did you report into Marketing or Software Development organization?
I reported into engineering.
Any tips or on how to increase my involvement in the products’ success without overstepping sales?
You are ultimately responsible for your product. You need to make sales your partners. Don’t side step just do stuff together.
What are the differences between being a Product Manager in the area you were at Google vs. eBay?
The culture is very different between Google and eBay. Google has a bunch of money, so Product Managers have more autonomy. At eBay, there’s more process.
Do you work with other Product Managers as a Technical Product Manager?
Yes, I work with other product managers. The technical vs. non-technical is different at every company. I can have conversations with engineers and make technical products.
I have a CS degree, MBA and sales experience, but no product experience. What can I do next?
If you have a CS, MBA, and sales, go build a product on your own. Even if it fails, you can position it as learning.
What methods do you utilize for understanding customer needs?
Talking to them, pretending that I know nothing and feeling what it feels like to be them. Many times customers don’t know what they want.
What are the prerequisites regarding experience/skill to ace the product manager interview?
You need to have all of the skill sets. If you don’t, someone else will.
What do you think are the biggest differences between Project and Product Management?
Product Managers are responsible for the vision in addition to execution. Project Managers only execute in general.
Do you feel that being a technical Product Manager is being more tactical or strategic?
It depends on what level you are at. At junior levels, you are responsible for execution. At more senior levels you are responsible for strategy. You build your strategy skills by building a bunch of stuff.
You’re said customers don’t know what they want. Can you elaborate?
Sometimes customers can’t articulate what they want when you are building something that has never been built before. If you are just following the crowd, then it will be easy for customers to articulate.
Should I continue looking for PM roles or switch to other roles like BA and later switch within the organization?
Sure some knowledge on business models, making payments easier. Without money in the business, you won’t have a product to manage. Tools are not the problem you need to find whatever works and is the least barrier to entry in your organization. It depends on the company.
What would you suggest emphasizing in your resume?
Product Manager job descriptions are always very similar, and LinkedIn is just like Google search. Check the keywords and SEO in a job description and put those things on your resume. You have to start thinking of your resume as a product. Tools and 1-2 skills aren’t the right questions.
The right questions are what is going to make me stand out among all of the other product managers? Do I have something to highlight? Should I get skills on my own? What features do I need to add so that it can compete in the marketplace? What “research” do I need to do? Recruiters are lazy, make their job easier.
Do you think it is important for Product Managers to have a technical background?
It is possible to get a job without a technical background. Absolutely. But you are competing with everyone else that also don’t have a tech background. If you do have a tech background the numbers of jobs, you qualify for increases. It’s just a numbers game. I think it’s only important if you want a job at a traditional tech company the Googles and Facebooks of the world.
It depends on the company you are applying for. If you were applying for Eventbrite sure if you were applying to Google then no also there is another option that people forget. Get a job at the company you want and then transition into Product Management.
Would you tell recruiters that at some point, you’ll be willing to transition to a product manager role?
No, I would not tell them that eventually, you want to transition into PM. Trust me tried that. failed miserably
Have you ever had to do a take-home product challenge?
Yes. Complete it like you would your job if you find that you want that job.
Do you manage just one product or a set of products?
I manage a set of products. I lead all of our efforts for large merchants and brands.
My boss wants me to move into product. I have a design/tech background and no previous experience in Product. Is this the right way to start?
Sounds good! Keep at it and doing the best that you can. Keep learning and being curious. Think two steps ahead.
What can I do to have the best chances of getting hired?
Build a product and learn to scale. Even if it fails to talk about what you learned. Expertise, they need a PM, you were the best person for the job.
How would you go about gaining Scrum experience and skill sets if your current company projects don’t use Agile? Are Scrum Master certifications reputable?
Yes, scrum master certs are reputable. I believe in getting whatever you need to give yourself an edge. Remember, treat your resume as a product.
Any suggestions for building a new technology that doesn’t have existing users?
Ah! That is what I love. Building from scratch. You need something to communicate your ideas. It will be a classic chicken and egg. It’s up to you to make agile tradeoffs.
At what point do you hand off to design? Do you do wireframing yourself as well?
No one knows what that is yet, your design, the need for it, why they would pull out their cc’s, but you have a finite set of resources/funding. You need to balance all of those things incrementally.
Any piece of advice for aspiring product managers?
Someone told me that I could do it and that’s all I needed! Think about what will make you better. Do that thing. Invest in yourself.
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