How to get the product experience you need

How to get the product experience you need

When we want to start a new career, one of the biggest challenges we face is being able to convince someone to give us a chance when we don't have experience in the role.

It's a tough one, but there are some steps we can take to try and get the experience we need and put us ahead of the competition.

Use your network

Every job we have we mix with a huge number of people, many of whom will move on to pastures new.  Every event we go to will be attended by people similar to you, with interests like you, with skills like you or like you want to have.

To get into the career of your dreams you need to maximise the network that you can build up.  Find someone in your network who works in the role you want to, or in the organisation you want to, and don't be afraid to ask them for the lowdown on an opportunity with them.

Use your family

In the same way, dig into your family tree to see who might be able to help you get a foot in the door to start clocking up some hours in the role.  It could be your aunt or cousin, or your uncle's new wife.  Everyone is fair game when it comes to chasing the job of your dreams.

Find a work experience opportunity

What you're really looking for is a job title to put on your CV and some experience to discuss in an interview, so why not try and get those by offering your services for free.

Look for organisations in your area of interest who might be growing and need an extra pair of hands, or who offer internships, and then take time off from your day job to work for them and get what you need.

Often these opportunities lead into people getting permanent roles as well, so if you can find someone who you'd be happy to work for in the longer term.

Talk to those recruiting

If you're trawling through the job adverts and see an opportunity you like the sound of, then there's nothing wrong with pitching yourself as the stop gap or someone who can help out in their time of need.

If they're desperate because the previous product manager has left them in the lurch then you might be able to get a couple of weeks experience in there just as a pair of hands to help out.  If you're offering your services for free (or at a very reduced rate) then they might just take you up on the offer.  The worst they can say is no, and you're back where you started anyway with nothing lost.

Look outside of your area

What we tend to do when we're looking for the job of our dreams is that we look for jobs within a comfortable commute from our home.  We try to fit the perfect job in with the rest of our perfect lives, when in fact, if we widen our search a little with the view to gaining experience wherever we can before we find the job of our dreams, then we might find our wider net returns better results.

Create your own experience

If all else fails, then there's always the option of creating your own product and developing that, so that you've got the experience to discuss within an interview.  This approach as the benefit of also showing a number of other skills that look positive to potential employers.

How to approach an employer

Do your research!  Know who it is that you need to speak to and write them a personal email (none of this copy and paste stuff because you're approaching a few people).  Let them know what you want to do, and why, and offer your services.  

Make sure you time your approach for the best possible reception, which means consider when the recipient is most likely to be free enough to give your unsolicited email a read.  Monday morning is probably out, but actually early mornings are often a good idea (if you email at 7am the emails are then at the top of the inbox) as are evenings (if you email at 7pm then you might miss the manic working hours and get into the catching up on things zone).

Just give it a go

Whatever you decide the important thing is to give it a go.  If you try and don't get anywhere then your CV is as empty as if you hadn't tried, but if you try and succeed then your CV will be one step closer to being just what your dream job needs.