Important Job Skills for Product Managers

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Technology is developing new products at a fast rate. For example, 3D printing allows innovators and product developers to create prototypes and blueprints faster and cheaper than the world previously conceived. When a new product catches the attention of companies and investors, the economy needs unique personnel with the expertise to guide a product’s path to market and distribution. These are product managers.

What Skills Do You Need to be a Product Manager?

Successful product managers are ambassadors of the product that they are carrying from conception through production and final launch. They must understand the market they are targeting with their new product and the competition it will face.

They are also responsible for creating and executing a successful strategy that will ensure the seamless and cost-effective passage of their product through its research, development, engineering, manufacturing, launch, and distribution. As such, this job requires top-notch problem-solving skills and analytical abilities.

Types of Product Manager Skills

Interpersonal Skills

Product managers influence many people along with the products that those people produce – from customers and sales personnel, to marketing, finance, and engineering teams. Thus, they must be able to communicate and disseminate their vision to everyone effectively.

A product manager is a multi-faceted individual. More so, perhaps, than any other profession, product management requires a solid grasp of the demands of several disciplines in order to communicate productively across divisions.

Although not an engineer, she must have enough technical knowledge to understand a product’s structure, composition, and applications. And while not a marketing specialist, the product manager must also be able to analyze market data and brand/position the product. Although not an accountant, he has to predict costs and manage budgets.

Solid presentation skills are a necessity as the product manager is usually the president of the product s/he is in charge of and has to get others on board with his or her goals. When resources are limited and other products are also under development, he or she must be able to champion the product so that it enjoys a timely and successful launch.

  • Active Listening
  • Presentation
  • Public Speaking
  • Inviting Feedback
  • Addressing Objections
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Bearing
  • Collaboration
  • Facilitating Meetings
  • Influencing Others
  • Interviewing
  • Leadership
  • Leading Cross-Functional Teams
  • Maintaining Composure Under Pressure
  • Managing Partner Relationships
  • Verbal Communication
  • Written Communication
  • Negotiating
  • Teamwork

Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking begins with posing the right questions, then understanding the market and competition, and finally by defining the product's road map. The product manager must be able to forecast how much time each stage of the production cycle will take, position their product to take advantage of market cycles, and formulate strategies to control costs and manage risks along the way.

  • Marketing
  • Innovation
  • Audience Segmentation
  • Product Life Cycle
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Creating Milestones
  • Goal Oriented
  • Project Management
  • Product Design
  • Creating and Managing Budgets
  • Creating Distribution Strategies
  • Customer Analysis
  • Defining Objectives
  • Defining Requirements
  • Forecasting Sales

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills follow on the heels of strategic thinking; it's about researching and analyzing the right data to make product decisions with profit in mind. This is a data-driven skill rather than acting on instinct or innate response. A product manager with solid analytical skills knows how to use data (whether it's paltry or prolific) to crunch numbers and create solutions for business strategy, product development, and pricing outlook.

  • Beta Testing
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Entrepreneurship
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Data Analysis
  • Statistics
  • Market Research
  • Basic Engineering
  • Quantitative Skills
  • Risk Management
  • Synthesizing Data
  • Tracking Progress

Marketing

Marketing is understanding how to promote, deliver, and service your products and customers. Frequently confused with advertising and sales, marketing is far broader. Product managers typically supervise advertising and sales as part of a bigger picture, the smoothness of the process of getting a product to market and delighting your customers before, during, and after a purchase.

  • Customer Service
  • Coordination
  • Creativity
  • Developing Pricing Frameworks
  • Developing Strategies for Product Launches
  • Developing Value Propositions
  • Evaluating Advertising Proposals
  • Promotion
  • Researching Market Trends
  • Responding to Changing Demands
  • Translating Customer Feedback into Product Modification
  • Ability to Meet Deadlines

More Product Manager Skills

  • Attention to Detail
  • Critical Thinking
  • Organization
  • Prioritizing
  • Time Management
  • Working Independently
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Supervision
  • Developing Cases for New Products/Features
  • Driving Product Strategy
  • Documentation
  • Product Feature Definition
  • Product Implementation
  • Product Improvements
  • Product Launch
  • Product Strategy
  • Visual Representation
  • Financial Analysis
  • Managing Social Media Systems
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Measuring Product Functionality
  • Measuring User Acceptance
  • Metrics
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Compiling Status Reports
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Visio

Key Takeaways

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: The keywords and keyword phrases listed here are those that are frequently programmed into the applicant tracking systems that many employers now use to review applications. Incorporate them into your resume.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: After highlighting the relevant skills in your resume, include a few in your cover letter, as well.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: Be prepared to share details of the experience (both direct and indirect) back each skill you’ve chosen to highlight in your resume.