In the world of product management, setting yourself apart from other candidates can be the key to thriving as a highly-valued professional. While technical skills and basic project management are foundational, there are certain qualities, skills and experiences that can dramatically set a product manager apart and enhance their career trajectory.

From people management skills and international exposure to demonstrating a deep understanding of market dynamics and strategic foresight, these attributes can play a significant role in getting this new job you`re applying to.

This article delves into six skills and experiences that, if possessed, demonstrated, and highlighted, can elevate a product manager’s effectiveness and significantly improve their career prospects in a competitive industry.

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1. People management experience

    Product managers often act as the glue between different teams and departments. Having strong people management skills enables them to motivate and guide their teams effectively, foster collaboration, and manage conflicts. This skill is particularly critical because product managers frequently need to lead without formal authority, relying instead on their ability to influence and negotiate across functions.

    Effective people management also involves understanding and respecting diverse team dynamics and individual differences, which can significantly enhance team productivity and morale. Furthermore, product managers with adept people skills can better advocate for their team’s needs and resources, ensuring that projects stay on track and meet their objectives. They can also more effectively communicate the vision and value of the product, ensuring all stakeholders are aligned and engaged. This not only helps in building a cohesive team but also in creating a positive work environment that drives innovation and creativity.

    2. International experience

      In today’s global market, having international experience can provide a product manager with a broader perspective, enhancing their ability to understand and meet diverse customer needs. This experience is invaluable for companies looking to expand into new markets or to manage products across different cultural contexts. It helps in understanding varied consumer behaviors, regulatory environments, and market conditions. International experience also enriches a product manager’s skill set by exposing them to different business practices, negotiation styles, and communication strategies, all of which are crucial for effective cross-cultural management. By working in varied geographical locations, product managers can develop a more adaptive and flexible approach, tailored to accommodate and leverage global diversity. This global insight is critical for crafting strategies that are not only locally effective but also globally scalable, allowing companies to maximise their reach and impact in the international arena

      3. Good understanding of market dynamics

        A solid grasp of market dynamics, such as knowing who the competitors are, what trends are affecting the industry, and how economic shifts influence consumer behavior, is crucial. This understanding allows product managers to anticipate market needs, make informed decisions, and position their product strategically. It’s not just about reacting to the market, but also about predicting and shaping market trends. Product managers with this expertise can identify emerging opportunities and potential threats before they become obvious to the competition. This proactive approach is vital for staying ahead in a competitive landscape, allowing for the adjustment of product development and marketing strategies in real-time. Additionally, understanding market dynamics aids in risk management and helps in crafting more resilient and adaptable business strategies. It enables product managers to align product offerings with actual market demands, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

        4. Good knowledge of different development methodologies

          Product managers must be versatile in their project management approaches, as this allows them to select the most effective methodology for each project, whether it’s Agile, Scrum, Lean, or Waterfall. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each methodology enables product managers to drive efficiency and adaptability in product development processes, thus better aligning product outcomes with business goals. This versatility also enables product managers to tailor their approach to the specific needs of the project, team, or stakeholder preferences, enhancing collaboration and productivity. Furthermore, by applying the appropriate methodology, product managers can manage resources more effectively, optimise timelines, and mitigate risks, ensuring that the project progresses smoothly and meets its targets. Mastery of different methodologies not only enhances a product manager’s toolkit but also empowers them to innovate and apply hybrid approaches when necessary, staying flexible and responsive in a fast-evolving business environment.

          5. Staying up-to-date and well-informed

            The technology and product landscapes are continually evolving. Being well-informed about new technologies, tools, consumer preferences, and industry changes is critical. This ensures that product managers can leverage the latest innovations to enhance their products and stay ahead of competitors. It also positions them as thought leaders within their teams and the broader industry, enhancing their credibility and influence. Staying current is not just about tracking news; it involves actively engaging with various professional podcasts and reading blogs focused on product and technology management, or industry-specific ones. These resources provide fresh insights and evolving strategies that can be directly applied to their work. Regularly updating one’s knowledge through these channels is essential for maintaining an edge. This continual learning process allows product managers to anticipate market trends, adapt to new technologies, and lead innovation efforts within their organisations.

            In my blog MyPMDiary, I write about anything that can be of interest to Product Managers and share some interesting insights from the world of product management. Some other blogs and podcasts I find insightful and interesting and I highly recommend include:

            • Product School: Apart from the well-known courses and certifications that they offer, they have a rich resource library, including a blog page with articles suitable for newbies or those looking to enter the field of product management and also seasoned product managers, reports on the current state of product management, and a podcast with interviews with product leaders from top brands like Google, Uber, Amazon, Ebay, Spotify, to name a few. Their blog contains many useful articles from various product categories, ranging from analytics, CX, UX, technology, marketing, to Product Strategy, Career and Leadership. Highly recommended!
            • ProductLed: A product management podcast, hosted by Wesh Bush, the founder and CEO of ProductLed, and it focuses on strategies for transforming businesses into product-led organisations. This podcast provides a comprehensive exploration of product-led growth, emphasising how companies can use their products to drive growth and reduce reliance on traditional sales teams.
            • Lenny`s podcast: Lenny’s Podcast, hosted by Lenny Rachitsky, is a valuable resource for product leaders, founders, and growth experts. In his podcast, Lenny interviews prominent figures to provide concrete, actionable, and tactical advice aimed at helping listeners build, launch, and grow their own products. The podcast covers a wide range of topics relevant to product management and growth strategies, making it a go-to for those involved in product development and entrepreneurship.
            • The Product Manager: offers both a blog and a podcast tailored to product management professionals. The blog focuses on providing a diverse range of resources such as articles, how-to guides, and tool recommendations, aimed at helping product managers navigate the stages beyond product-market fit, from strategic scaling to securing Series B funding
            • How They Grow: A resource that I love and find very insightful. It is a newsletter by Jaryd Hermann that provides in-depth analyses on the growth strategies of leading companies. It covers early tactics, current methodologies, and key product-building insights, aimed at offering actionable knowledge for entrepreneurs and operators. The newsletter is valued for its detailed case studies of prominent tech companies, making it a great resource for those interested in learning from successful business models.

            6. Strategic vision

              Strategic vision involves looking beyond day-to-day activities and understanding the bigger picture. A product manager with a strategic vision can define a clear path for a product, aligning it with the company’s long-term goals and market opportunities. This capability allows them to guide their teams through complex product landscapes and to make decisions that support sustained growth and success. Moreover, a strategic vision helps product managers to identify synergies between different product lines and to innovate within their market space effectively. This foresight is critical in prioritising initiatives that maximise impact and in steering clear of pitfalls that could derail project objectives. Strategic vision also encompasses the ability to adapt to changes in the business environment, anticipating market shifts and recalibrating strategies as necessary. This dynamic approach ensures that the product remains relevant and competitive, fostering resilience and facilitating continuous improvement in pursuit of excellence.


              In conclusion, possessing any of these skills and experiences —ranging from adept people management to a nuanced understanding of international markets and strategic foresight—can distinctly set you apart in the field of product management. Each of these things can not only enhance a product manager’s capability to lead effectively but also enrich your career prospects and can play out to your advantage when applying for a new job. By developing these key attributes, aspiring and current product managers can markedly increase their influence within their teams, drive innovation, and navigate their products through the complexities of the market. Embracing and cultivating these qualities will equip product managers to excel, making them indispensable assets to their organisations and leaders in their industry.

              Guest post written by Desislava Paunova

              Product Manager Work