Product Manager Job Description Template

For a product company focused on customer value*

As I wrap up my own job search, I thought it is a good time to share what I think a good template looks like, I hope it helps. Would love to hear thoughts/feedback on it.

I think the key principles of a good job description are:

  1. Communicates the right level of detail for this stage of the application process.
  2. Helps the prospect choose the right company.
  3. Helps the prospect choose the right job.
  4. Helps the prospect align their values with the team and requirements of the job.
  5. Avoid eliminating potentially good candidates (eg no unnecessary or low importance criteria)
  6. Very tightly tied to what will be asked in interviews and how candidates will be scored (the exact competencies) — so that the prospect knows what to expect and the playing field is leveled.
  7. Honestly and accurately aligns with the needs of the job.
  8. Provides as much information upfront as possible.

I’m hoping the adoption of this type of job description will allow people to focus on the important evaluation areas throughout application and interviewing. Especially of note, there is no experience requirement, because it has been shown to introduce bias and be a poor predictor of performance. If you think you require experience, maybe double check that you do, then make a clear statement about ALL the ways (school, work, life) they could meet that expectation. Nor is there a knowledge (of the company’s customers, business, markets, operations) requirement because it is something learnable and often blocks good (especially junior) candidates — and a fresh perspective about a field might actually be what you need for innovation.

I’d love to hear how we might improve the principles or what different templates might come up based on specific needs. For example, at a start-up, this might explain the main role of a Product Manager, but you may also need to include other roles that need to be played.

Now… onto the template itself:

Product Manager Job Description

Summary

  • Discover, quantify, and gain insight into our customers’ decision making.
  • Evaluate opportunities by learning all aspects of and around the product.
  • You work internally through communication with your team and stakeholders.
  • You love working with an empowered team on what gets built and delivered to customers.

About the company

Why / Vision: Short description (approximately <120 characters) of the desired future this companies aims to create.

Why + How / Values: Company values that shape our principles. Should be derived from how we believe we will be successful for the customers we aim to serve and for ourselves.

What / Mission: Short description (approximately <120 characters) of the current company objectives and strategy/approach to reaching them — what problems are you wanting this role to help solve.

What you will do

Within your empowered product team

  • Work on a high trust (empowered) team that is responsible for building products our customers love and work for the business.
  • Value and Business: Your role on the team is the person most responsible for understanding the customer perceived value and business viability.
  • Design: Designers are the ones most responsible for usability. Your role is to answer questions and advise designers as the key subject matter expert and source of knowledge (which you will learn on the job) on topics of users, customers, markets, industries, domains, business, company, and operations.
  • Technology: Engineers are the ones most responsible for technical feasibility. Your role is to answer questions and advise developers as the key subject matter expert and source of knowledge (which you will learn on the job) on topics of users, customers, markets, industries, domains, business, company, and operations.
  • Spend the majority of your time focussed on leading continuous Product Discovery and Product Optimization efforts through rapid testing and learning; your role is primarily with real people in your target market.
  • Spend a good deal of your time supporting continuous Delivery efforts through clear communication, facilitation, and process expertise.
  • Lead the team in setting customer based Objectives and Key Results that rollup to the organization’s goals.
  • Lead the team in setting and maintaining Product Principles on which decisions are based that lead to customer value.

Outside your empowered product team

  • You will work on a regular basis with: Executives (as required), Marketing, Sales, and Support.
  • You are a good listener and communicator with stakeholders outside your teams. You focus on the people first, these stakeholders should feel heard and that they contribute to the product decisions. Most of all, they perceive that you understand their constraints and will deliver a solution within them. You are trusted and build trust with all these cohorts.
  • Ensure you are using these groups to drive and grow your knowledge of sales, marketing, and business operations so that you become the expert in these areas as they relate to your product.

Who you are

A servant leader, who can set a vision that inspires people and brings those people together through collaboration, communication, and evangelism. To be successful, we believe you need to be the following type of person:

  1. Honest: there are numerous sources of pressure to “look good” in this role. So it’s important for making good decisions that honesty comes first for you. Accommodate short term business needs; while never compromising honesty and trust with staff and markets.
  2. Teamplayer / Collaborative: you’re a missionary not a mercenary; you care about your teammates and team’s mission more than your individual success.
  3. Smart: you are able and willing to become the expert in the knowledge required for the product to be successful. This includes information about: users, customers, markets, industries, domains, business, company, and operations.
  4. Curious / Empathetic: you have the curiosity to ask insightful questions and the empathy to go beyond the surface level to find the deeper insights.
  5. A good communicator: you communicate clearly using different methods to address all audiences with a focus on long-term clarity. You actively listen and gain insights, then translate that into compelling stories.
  6. Persistent: you are motivated for team/vision success and will persist when others give up.
  7. Inspirational: you inspire through results, story telling, and actions.
  8. Generous: you share what you learn transparently and generously throughout the organization; you do not covet information to win arguments or for personal gain
  9. Open / Humble: you are open and seek new ideas and are constantly learning; this means you are aware of your ignorance and acknowledge your failures fast.
  10. Creative: you think outside the normal box of solutions to inspire better problem solving (e.g. especially when looking for “minimum” tests and prototypes).
  11. Courageous / A decision maker: you have to make hard decisions in setting product strategy; these should be fast, based on experimentation, and take courage. Honesty, especially when speaking to power, takes courage.
  12. Analytical: you use data to drive product discovery, optimization, and delivery efforts.
  13. Organized: you organize product knowledge, strategy, and operations to leverage efficiency and clarity.

Details of the company

  • Size
  • Revenue / Funding
  • Office locations / sizes / roles and products at that location
  • Work flexibility (remote / hours of the day)
  • Vacation policy
  • Benefits

Usually available elsewhere, but honour the candidates’ time by putting it all here.

Details of the job

  • Hiring Manager — include a link to his/her resume, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.
  • Work tools / software
  • Travel expectations

Details of the application process

  • Cover letter truly optional — keep it short (<100 words preferred because we have a lot to read). This cover letter is a space just for you to feel complete with your application. Tell us about what is missing in your resume that you feel needs to be said, no need to restate what’s in your resume. If you already have this info on your resume or LinkedIn printout you are good. If you write something we will read it and your resume, if you don’t add a cover letter you are no worse off with just your resume.
  • Hiring Team members
  • Salary Range
  • Stock options
  • Interview structure (type/length)

*note about the subtitle: the subtitle limits who should use this as a template. However, for long term success, I encourage “all companies that have products” to meet this criteria. That is, they should become product focused and, then as a company with product focus, look to achieve that through delivering customer perceived value. Maybe, just maybe, that change can start with hiring the right Product Manager.

Coach. Leader. Manager. Passionate about helping people. Curious about problems, especially customer. Create environments for delivering software people love.

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