One of the most interesting workplace trends of recent years is the shift toward more frequent job and career changes. While a typical professional of the 20th century might have stayed in the same role for decades, today’s employees are constantly on the lookout for new challenges and opportunities. Surveys show that the average millennial worker changes jobs every 18 months—a tendency that would have made an employee look flighty and undependable just a decade ago.
Chances are, if you’ve been in your current position for more than a few years, you’re feeling the urge to join in with the trend and explore your career options. Software industry professionals, especially project managers and developers, often look to product management as the next step in their career progression. Here’s a look at some of the reasons a career as a product manager might be right for you, as well as some of the potential challenges that might steer you away from the field.
Product managers are responsible for defining the features and functionality of a product, as well as the long-term strategy for enhancing and expanding it. The role requires technical knowledge, a solid understanding of the market and good business instincts. Many product managers are also heavily involved in developing the marketing plans and budgets for their products. This broad range of responsibilities is what draws many professionals to the field—few other positions in any organization involve exposure to so many different aspects of the business.
Product management is also a great way to prepare yourself for a senior leadership position down the road. By developing product management skills like strategic planning and managing large teams, you’re also building a resume that could land you a VP or C-level role in the future.
Some professionals find that product management pulls them too far away from the hands-on work that they enjoyed in their previous roles. As a product manager, you’ll make decisions about what a product should do, but in most cases, you won’t be involved in actually developing the solution. If you have a background as a software engineer, you may feel that you’re missing out on the creative problem-solving that your developers get to do every day.
If you move from project management to product management, you may feel that you’ve lost some of the variety that used to be a part of your job. While product managers certainly have many different responsibilities, they tend to work on the same product in the long term, rather than moving from assignment to assignment as a project manager does.
Take Some Time to Research
Before you make any decisions about your next career move, take some time to learn more about the differences between project management and product management, and ask of the product managers in your network what they like and don’t like about their roles, including what their day-to-day is like and whether or not they use any project management solutions in their current role. These conversations can also give you insight into possible next steps after a product management position—after all, many of today’s product managers are looking to make a career change of their own.