Many job search guides fail to offer meaningful insight into landing Product Manager (PM) jobs at startups and growth-stage companies. They tend to over-index on popular interview questions, and while that’s useful to a point, they don’t teach you how to differentiate yourself in an increasingly competitive market.
If you’re a PM wondering how to break into startups and growth-stage companies from the outside, or if you’ve been trying and have struggled to gain traction, read on!
In this article, I share what I learned in my search for PM leader roles (i.e. Director / VP / Head of Product) as a candidate coming from a lengthy PM stint at a large company (8.5 years at Wells Fargo). My advice is relevant for those pursuing IC roles, e.g. Senior / Principal PM.
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Last updated: 2022-08-05
Some Product Managers (PMs) lack a nuanced understanding of Product Design disciplines, provide direction & feedback to Product Designers in unhelpfully limiting ways, and fail to build an effective partnership with Product Designers.
In this article I provide guidance on how PMs can effectively collaborate with and empower their Product Designers to design delightful customer experiences.
Before we can have a meaningful conversation about how to work with Product Designers, we first have to level set on what they do. If you’re already knowledgeable about Product Design disciplines, feel free to skip ahead to the tips & advice.
What Product Designers Do
Product Designers integrate multiple design disciplines, including:
- Information Architecture (IA)
- Interaction Design (ID)
- Content Strategy (CS)
- Visual Design (VD)
These disciplines are intentionally listed with IA first and VD last. We’ll unpack each discipline in detail.
“Product Design” has become an increasingly popular term in recent years, but before that UI Design, UX Design, and CX Design — i.e. User Interface Design, User Experience Design, and Customer Experience Design — were more commonly used. We’ll talk about the distinctions between UX and UI later. My gut feeling is with the growing emphasis on the word “product” that “Product Design” will continue to gain prominence.
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