How To Become a Product Manager Without Experience

How To Become a Product Manager Without Experience

“In the end, your goal isn’t to get the specifications perfect – your job is to change the world,” stated Jeff Patton.

Product managers come from several professions, including but not limited to engineering, marketing, and communications.

All of these individuals share the ability to master a few hard skills, such as the capacity to recognize market opportunities, product modeling, and road mapping. 

As well as the crucial soft skills, a product manager requires are strategic thinking, leadership, communication, collaboration abilities, and empathy.

A collaboration between numerous departments—including IT, engineering, marketing, and sales—is necessary to create the majority of tech products. And product managers are in charge of those cross-departmental teams.

Elon Musk and other tech titans have a reputation for being lone geniuses. But that is more myth than fact. In 2008, Musk introduced the first Tesla automobile alone on stage, but he collaborated with a sizable crew behind the scenes to construct it.

Aspiring PMs should focus on three main aspects when assessing a post: core capabilities, emotional intelligence (EQ), and organizational fit.

Product management is about clearly understanding why a company’s products are essential, having managerial skills, and constantly looking for ways to upgrade what is already available.

To work as a product manager, you must comprehend how technology, business, and user experience are intertwined. The entire lifecycle of the good, from conception to launch and beyond, can fall on the shoulders of a product manager, making it a position of immense responsibility.

Because of this, it’s also a job that necessitates expertise in various areas, both social and technological.

Millions of articles about becoming an experienced product manager may be found online. 

But here, we’ll talk about various product manager-related topics, including an intriguing one: “How to become a product manager with zero experience.”

Let’s begin with the basics:

Who Is a Product Manager?

In popular culture, the image of a tech office with a dark room full of sleep-deprived developers frantically producing code is frequently mocked.

In truth, more steps are involved in creating a software product, and a tech company’s commercial operations are crucial. So, who contributes to making technological innovations into commercially viable products?

Product managers are the answer.

A product manager combines corporate strategy, design expertise, and consumer demands to create functional, practical, and valuable products. PMs are concerned with making a product as efficient as possible while meeting user needs and company objectives.

The position of product managers is continually in the process of development.

The product manager manages all the space surrounding the product.

Because each product manager is responsible for a fundamentally distinct issue space, you may encounter a stunning range of product managers working for the same firm. 

Different types of clients, business stakeholders, and development teams are involved in their work.

What Makes a Great Product Manager?

“How do you become an excellent product manager?”

A list of skills would be the most straightforward response.

Do you want to work in product management? The question of how to become a product manager may come up. What do you research? What kind of experience are you looking for? Which action comes first?

It’s challenging and complex work, but it’s also intriguing to create awesome things. You must possess both vision and practicality if you want to succeed as a product manager.

Exceptional “product men” are enthusiastic about their projects, willing to invest all of their energy into developing and bringing great ideas to market, and are strategic thinkers with the capacity to spot product opportunities when others are obscured by confusion and noise.

Some prerequisites for becoming an excellent product manager include the ones listed below:

A Bachelor’s Degree.

Not all product management positions require an undergraduate degree, but most of them do.

Companies frequently demand an undergraduate degree in business, computer science, or engineering to be considered for a position in product management. 

Employers also prefer applicants with management, marketing, public relations, and statistics backgrounds.

Creative Business Thinking.

It is crucial: product leaders exhibit a unique mindset that is the cornerstone of success; they are ardent about creating products that people love; they are motivated by innovation; but at the same time, they maintain a grounded sense of reality through the establishment of clear objectives and the systematic assessment of performance and success.

Big thinking is necessary for a successful career in product management, but you also need to be mindful of limitations and priorities. The proper instance of your product must make the best use of the resources at your disposal.

A Proper Combination of Tactical and Strategic Thinking.

Some product managers like to focus most of their time—if not all—on brainstorming, pontificating, and thinking through the big-picture elements of their products. 

Others feel more at ease plunging headfirst into the specifics of the backlog, the budget and resource allocation, etc.

Only after gaining comfort and competence in the tactical and strategic facets of advancing their product can a PM genuinely excel.

You must cultivate both your big-thinking strategic side and your tactical project management side if you want to excel. Strike a balance.

Be Familiar With the Terrain.

Product managers need to be the best at navigating the market. Rarely do they begin with a blank slate. 

Product managers frequently find themselves thrust into an initiative already gaining traction. They will make poor decisions if they start carrying out without first taking the time to orient themselves.

Good product managers start by asking questions instead of slamming the brakes. Take advantage of your first few months in product management to speak with as many clients as possible.

Then you’ll be able to start making some of your own decisions.

Years of Experience.

Years of experience are necessary for product management jobs, and the duration typically varies depending on the particular role. 

A director, for example, needs five to twelve years of managerial experience. Associate product managers are entry-level positions that don’t require any prior experience. 

While this is happening, some businesses hire qualified individuals without previous product management experience.

Specialized Education.

The education and experience needed will vary depending on the role and the firm. However, most employers prefer that their staff members receive training. This instruction could come from the practical experience you earned while obtaining your degree or from any prior training.

A technical and data-driven background is necessary for many product management positions. Companies may also look for candidates with coding and customer service expertise.

A Cross-domain Expertise.

Modern digital goods’ success depends on various factors, including technology, usability testing, business models, marketing, and operational excellence. These factors must all work together to promote user engagement, value generation, and monetization.

By putting the vision into practice, outlining the roadmap, and deftly directing the work of brilliant multidisciplinary teams, product leaders “make things happen.”

Problem-solving in a Novel Way.

The prime aim of product management is to enhance an already-existing product or to develop a new product that has been evaluated and is ready to succeed. As a result, effective product managers have a track record of resolving customer and company issues.

Being able to solve problems is insufficient, and it would help if you also exercised creativity in doing so. 

You must develop a few user-centered solutions if your user research points up a bug in the product, and these are solutions that the engineering team might not think of.

Master the Art of Influence Without Power.

There are several ways to exert influence. The initial step is to pay attention to others and recognize how they are being persuaded. The second is figuring out how to convince them to agree with your viewpoint. 

Even if you don’t have any evidence to support your claim, developing your storytelling skills will help you advance.

Leading without direct power requires knowing which levers to pull and with whom.

High Empathy Levels.

It will help if you try and put yourself in the position of your customer to comprehend what goes wrong with a product level. You will therefore require empathy. If not, it will be impossible to provide a solution as you control the product life cycle.

Empathy can also make it easier for you to comprehend other teams’ difficulties, improving your ability to work with them and fostering a more successful relationship.

Given that we now know what makes a great product manager—experience, education, and skills—let me let you in on a little secret.

You know what? Here’s how even someone with zero experience can become a productive product manager.

The article’s most interesting section is “How to become a product manager without experience,” so let’s look at that.

From their initial suggestion to their final interaction with the customer, product managers influence the life cycle of the items we use. As a result, knowledge of the purpose and market of a product is often necessary for product management.

But What Should You Do if You Have Zero Prior Experience?

Recognizing Essential Skills.

Aspiring product managers must first comprehend the essential competencies that constantly characterize success in the position if they are to succeed in the area.

Since they will probably combine several strategies and viewpoints into a single, comprehensive vision, managers must feel at ease speaking with teams from other industries. 

This typically calls for various cross-industry soft skills, including self-motivation, organization, critical thinking, and attention to detail.

Research as Much as You Can.

Before your first interview to become a product manager, you must first take this strategic action. You can quickly answer the product manager interview questions if you thoroughly analyze the market, product history, rivals, and target market.

The earlier you become familiar with the product, the simpler it will be for you to go through the product manager career path stages.

Ensure That Your Other Abilities Are Flawless.

The only way to stand out if you lack industry expertise is if your other abilities are top-notch and can compensate for your shortcomings in this area.

  • Soft abilities.
  • Business sense.
  • UX and technology expertise.
  • Domain expertise.
Check out Chisel to start your product management journey
Check out Chisel to start your product management journey

It could be wise to concentrate on the Technology & UX pillar. Even when switching industries, you should highlight any commercial or technical experience you may have on your resume.

Test Out the Product.

Do it yourself if you want to comprehend or do anything at a high level. Managers who work for consumer product firms must be thoroughly knowledgeable about the product they are proposing. Daily product use is crucial, and you should be willing to test out all upgrades.

Request access to a demo from a responsible engineer if you deal with B2B or B2C products. Demo and staging areas are typically accessible to sales managers and support staff.

Find a Sales Manager Friend.

Developing relationships with every team member is best because everyone will support you and provide the necessary instruction. You will undoubtedly work with developers and QAs. 

Sales managers converse with customers frequently and better understand the competitive environment, and they are technical product specialists.

Sales will demonstrate how frequently clients utilize the product in their daily activities. This encounter will give you a thorough understanding of the product and highlight its advantages and disadvantages.

Understand Your Rivals.

Make sure to keep tabs on the current situation of two or three rivals before attending an interview with the company’s executives. Look at their most recent updates and the features that set them apart from the product you’ll be working with. Your current situation will become more knowledgeable and you will be self-aware as a result.

Cite Instances of How You Ramped Up in Other Companies.

Hiring managers need to know that you are a self-starter who is prepared to put in the work (even after hours) to catch up. 

Bring instances of times you joined a new industry and how you caught up to the speed.

Read Books That Are Helpful to Product Managers.

This is something that amateurs always forget!

There is no better teacher than your own experience, without a doubt. You won’t feel confident using the new product unless you are confident in your thoughts, failures, and successes. 

But frequently, theory and experience can provide excellent answers. The books for product managers have information about this. 

Plan To Attend Conferences and Events Professionally.

You won’t have time for outside events during the first several months of using the product.

But as things get better, look for worthwhile pursuits that might help you network and gain new expertise in your field.


Are you apprehensive about entering the field of product management fresh?

To calm yourself down, refer to our blog. Then, use our advice to slay the position.

This post dispels the fallacy that prior industry experience is required. It will enable you to spend more time attaining your goals while considering the above factors and learning more.

You will lie in a better position than other PMs if you have a plan to fill in your deficiencies.

Crafting great product requires great tools. Try Chisel today, it's free forever.