This is a blog post I had written in response to Ask Women in Product series to the question: “I really want to be promoted from PM to Senior PM. What do you think distinguishes these positions, and how can I best show my achievements to make my case?“
The transition from a Product Manager (PM) to a Senior Product Manager role encompasses growth in all the skills required to be a product leader.
You’ll want to start by making your intentions clear to your manager and setting goals for how you can improve to get promoted to the next level. Below, we explore the various skills that a PM will need to level up to get promoted to a senior position.
The term “Strategy” consists of roadmap strategy, individual feature strategy, as well as long- and short-term product vision. The difference between a product manager and a senior product manager in terms of strategy is as follows:
To level up: Ask your manager for ownership of a big product goal. For example, ask to own the revenue growth of your product and create a roadmap to meet the product goals. Use the project both as a learning experience and as a way to showcase your ability to strategize. Work on gradually owning larger parts of the product roadmap.
The term “Analytics” refers to a combination of technical analytical skills, the ability to identify key metrics, derive business insights, and experiment. The differences between PM and senior PM are as follows:
To level up: Derive key insights from your product analyses and make recommendations that contribute to the business as a whole. Keep focusing on your product but also drive initiatives that impact larger product goals.
Product Design/Product Sense
“Product design and product sense” are terms that refer to both how well a PM understands users and their needs as well as the PM’s ability to design products to meet those needs.
To level up: Deconstruct top products in your market and do market research. Use your research findings to make recommendations to your product team. Take the initiative to share your research and learnings with the broader organization.
The term “Execution” refers to the PM’s ability to drive product strategy and roadmaps with multi-disciplinary teams, thus ensuring that ideas go to production.
To level up: Build great relationships with other disciplines by setting up 1:1s and understanding their needs. Use your insights to create better processes so everyone can execute more efficiently.
Next Steps to Level Up
The expectations from a senior PM are company-dependent, so the very next step to working toward a promotion should be to align with your manager and company on the expectations. Evaluate your areas of strength and weakness in the skills expected of a Senior PM and work from there.