Become a Product manager without experience (Advice 2021)

Become a Product Manager with no experience (New Advice 2021)

Today, we look at how you can jump into the product management field with no prior experience. You are interested in the PM career path, and you like the idea of becoming a product manager with no experience?

Become a Product manager without experience (Advice 2021)
Become a Product manager without experience (Advice 2021)

As a senior product manager with over 20 years of work experience in the field, I will give you a few tips that will provide you with a kickstart towards a product management career.

What exactly is a product manager?

Before we jump into the article, we need to clarify what a product manager is and what they do.

Product managers usually coordinate between various teams to get their product outlined, designed, and developed, then built and shipped or launched. Their area of responsibility ranges from getting research data about the target audience, analytics and expertise together and deciding about strategy and product execution.

The first question that you are wondering about is, Is it possible to Become a Product Manager with no experience? – the answer is, YES, it is!

I will show you different possibilities to achieve this goal and provide you with steps to take without any delay.

The great thing with product management is there are many different possibilities to becoming a product manager. There’s no official study or certificate you need to get settled in this field. It’s a role that can make a real impact in your company.

For this purpose, I’m assuming you’re pretty much interested in tech product management, which is product management in top tech companies or companies producing tech products, usually software web-app type-of products.

There are also differences between product managers in Start-Ups and established big enterprises.

Also, there are different types of product managers in terms of expertise. While some product managers are very proficient in technical stuff (maybe they worked as software-engineer before), other product managers seeing themselves more in the creative and “customer-understanding” part. 

That decision is totally up to your personal preference, and if you decide now that you want to go deeper into tech, you can change it later at any time. Experience is never a bad thing.

If you are looking for a job and find a “brand new” product or project, it would probably be beneficial if you have some creative mind to get going in a “lean” environment.
Another significant factor to consider when applying somewhere is that you think about the culture you want to work in. – With culture, I mean the way how people in this.

-> Example. The president of a motorcycle club with dozens of tattoos will probably not apply to the product department of a children’s toy manufacturer.

A little remark here – I get often asked what the differences are between product manager, project manager, and program manager.
I will make a short article about that and link it here as soon as it is ready.

So let’s get started with product management

The number one thing you can do to Become a Product Manager with no experience.

.. is to manage a product from the ground up, which means you launch a product by yourself or join somebody who is working on a product or service. To find such an opportunity, you can visit product hunt to see what is out there now, see what people are building right now, write them directly and tell them that you’d love to help them.

You could potentially think about joining as a co-founder or join as an intern, just helping out for a month or two to learn the skills. However, if you have no experience in product management, you’ve got to quickly pick up some of these skills. 

Now for this, as you are interested in getting into this area, I assume you’re reading books, you’re watching videos, you’re learning, you’re taking courses and classes in product management, but the best thing you can do is actually get some hands-on experience and the best way to do that, as we just covered – is 

  1. Build a product by yourself
  2. Join someone else who builds a product as a partner or intern

Basically, you’re looking to join any team of one person or more, looking for help with building and launching a product, iterating it, marketing it, growing it, or, in any other related field.
I suggest you make a spreadsheet where you track all your contacts. Email all these different folks, reach out on LinkedIn reach and out on other social media.

For the communication, be honest, be transparent, tell them you don’t have experience – but you have a lot of interest, and you have done these and that classes – or you’ve launched this product, and you’re now interested in learning on the job, and you’ve got experience in related fields, and you’d love to help because you like the product.

The key with this is don’t delay, don’t be too picky, if you’ve got time today – start today!

Take a look if there are any opportunities where you can make a quick note and reach out to just a few of these a day, and eventually, you’re gonna find an opportunity.

Remember, you only need one chance given to get your foot in the door and actually learn how to do product management on the job. That’s going to provide you with the best learning experience to Become a Product Manager with no experience.

Of course, you do need to keep going with learning about product management, the critical concepts of being a PM – how to get into it, and how to do it well. 

Keep in mind to become proficient with the essential things – the rest you can learn on the job.

I recommend doing that above almost anything else because, first of all, different opportunities might open up that you could not even anticipate.

Secondly, you get on-the-job experience. You learn much more as you start to interact with people, products, and technologies in the space.


Tip Number 2

The next tip is to go through your resume and see which elements of your previous work and your previous education had anything to do with product management. 

Then, think about the impact of your actions, knowledge, and experience you could translate to product management from these.
Sometimes it doesn’t need to be that big innovative topic. You helped somebody building a website and presenting it. Perfect.

Rewrite that resume to make sure that the responsibilities that you had are either related to product management. Of course, the impact that got out of it has to be centered around doing something with products, either bringing people together, launching, executing, iterating, improving, or selling something.

Once you reworked that resume, you can start to apply for product management positions. With the assumption that a lot of the work you’ve done already has overlaps with what’s typically expected from a product management role – How you write such a resume –I will place the article here once it’s finished. 

Another tip to get started as a product manager 

One of the essential things in the field of product management is – right – networking.
It is crucial to expand your network and your social network. 
Try to meet people that are working in companies where you’d like to work someday. 

Reach out to people if you have shared contacts. That’s a very convenient way to make new contacts. Also, consider asking contacts that you know already a little bit better to introduce you to people you’d think could be a good contact for you.
You don’t need to tell them in the face that you are trying to become a product manager with no experience.

 If you are “cold-texting” people, that’s also fine – just be honest with your intentions. Explain what you’re interested in, explain that you’re interested in learning, learn more about the company, and learn more about product management. You’d love a few minutes of

their time, you’d be very appreciative of their time, and you just want to ask them a few questions about how they built their career or how they joined the company or something like that, just be honest, be appreciative, be direct and be brief. 

Nobody was born a product manager, and everyone at some point needed advice or tips. That’s also one reason why you are here.
Of course, I will not let you go without some tips on education.

There are hundreds of books, videos, courses, ted talks out there. 

And no matter what you start – The product management role has touchpoints all over the place. You are the man in the middle. 
You bring the needs of a product, developing teams, marketing, research, and one of the most important things – the customer – together.

Wherever you start, there is always to learn something new, sharpen “mastered” skills, pick up new ones. Once you’re on the job, you will quickly see in which direction you want to go, what way your passion or talent leads you.


1. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
The classic book, everyone knows it – you’ve probably already read it. If that is so, move quickly on to the following recommendation. -> more info here

2. The Lean Startup
Another must-read to sharpen your entrepreneurial skills and knowledge about how to evaluate ideas. We are developing for a customer/client, aren’t we? -> more info here

3. Product Mindset – How to Get Inside Your Customers Mind
Building products that people love, you should understand their lives’ circumstances and the complexities of their current situation. Learn from Spotify example, how they won over artists, how Netflix made AI useful, and the psychological similarities that your phone shares with a slot machine. Some PM advice and thought leadership from big tech companies. -> more info here

4. Well Designed
Get more imaginative in Product Design and become a more skilled Product Manager. There is no need to be a world-class artist, but building products that require product design is not too bad to have some knowledge in this area. The book “Well designed” by J. Kolko describes how to determine a market fit for products, the identification of behavioral insights, outlines the strategy for a product, and give products the final polish. -> more info here

Start with these books – and then proceed to listen to some smart product people! There are dozens of good podcasts out there. If you have Spotify – use it 🙂

Yes, indeed there are. Let me recommend you some of them.

  1. Product Management Courses by Coursera
    1. The “Brand and Product Management” course by Coursera will help you to develop a brand and product strategy, identifying quick wins, and gain an understanding of long-term value. You will learn how to define a product life cycle, how to define and successfully deliver a brand promise, integrate the right metrics, and how to best express yourself in terms of brand strategy. For our solo entrepreneurs and self-starters, creating a brand portfolio is also very helpful. 13 hours packed with information makes this course a steal for beginners to advance product managers. To learn about the topic itself, or to refresh the basics of their knowledge.
  2. Micro Masters Programm by Boston University
    1. I went through this program a while ago, and it was worth it. If you have some Dollars to invest, then invest them in your product manager knowledge. Not only do you learn everything necessary, but also you have the chance to gain an official document that makes a good impression on your resume. The cool thing about this course – the knowledge is free. You only pay for the certificates. I think I will do an in-depth review and link it here—definitely no time waster.
  3. Product Management First Steps
    1. If you have an active subscription to LinkedIn learning, which is totally worth it, I recommend you to take a look into the Product Management First Steps. It is an easy-going course that you can take in half an afternoon. And as it’s LinkedIn, you can even watch it in some breaks (yes, I also mean on the toilet). The Author of this program is Doug Winnie – a former Adobe Principal Product-Manager. The course is covering six stages of the product lifecycle, starting with researching going over to refining, and finally retiring. It will also describe the core skills of product managers, including the way how you work with a product team and get into product definition together. As I mentioned before, the course is pretty short ~around two hours.

Next Steps:

You can’t get enough?

Here you find some additional steps you can take to get into product management without experience or become a product manager without experience:

Get engaged with other product people.

1. Networking and meetups: ( I mean in the real world)

Product managers visit meetups to stay up to date with the industry and recruit new hires potentially. So if you are going all-in with a job search, it’s good to mention it during a chat with some people you meet at one of these events.

And even if they are not the people who are hiring at the moment, they probably know someone who is.

Now you ask, where can I find such kinds of events?

  • ProductTank – A meetup platform for product people all over the world in more than 200 cities
  • Mind the Product Conferences – locally or hybrid conferences, during covid you can join digital/virtually, how cool is that?

2. Product job boards

  • Mind the Product also offers a job board. Take a look, and you might find something – there are also a lot of remote possibilities.
  • Product Manager HQ has a job board, and it’s filled with good opportunities for any level of product management-related jobs.

I’m sure this article will help you with finding your way into product management. Some more articles about resumes, product owners, program managers are on the way. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you are interested in actually creating the product in the development team, try the guide “First time Product Owner insights”

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