If you’re looking to start a career in product management, you may be wondering what the product manager job description entails.
If you’re already in the industry, perhaps you need a hand navigating the vast and complex world of product manager job ads as you look for your next role.
Either way, you’ve probably noticed that, confusingly, the product manager job description means different things to different companies. You’ve likely also come across some overwhelmingly long lists of tasks, skills, and requirements.
But don’t let this deter you. We’ve put together this guide to demystify the product manager job description. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to expect from product manager job descriptions—and we’ll also share some advice for deciphering job ads as you embark on your own job search.
We’ve written this guide with aspiring and existing product managers in mind, but it will also be useful for employers/hiring managers tasked with writing a product manager job description.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is the job description of a product manager?
- The product manager job description: Tasks and responsibilities
- The product manager job description: Skills, requirements, and qualifications
- Product manager job description examples
- Junior product manager job descriptions
- Senior product manager job descriptions
- Deciphering product manager job descriptions when applying for jobs
So: What exactly is the job description of a product manager? Let’s find out.
1. What is the job description of a product manager?
Product managers are responsible for managing and guiding a product through its entire life cycle.
A product is something a company offers to end users—be it a physical product (for example, recipe and ingredient kits delivered as part of a monthly subscription), a service (such as online education), or some kind of app or software.
Whatever form the product takes, it’s the product manager’s job to ensure that it’s as successful as possible in line with business goals and end user needs.
To that end, the product manager conducts research to figure out what customers/end users want from a product, ensuring that the business is building the right thing. They develop an overarching product strategy, define product specifications and requirements, and guide and oversee the design, development, launch, and marketing of the product.
The product manager role is highly strategic. They ensure that the product evolves in a direction that contributes to the achievement of business goals—defining a long-term vision for the product and overseeing the execution of that vision.
That’s the product manager role in a nutshell. You can learn more about what a product manager does in our guide. For now, let’s take a closer look at the tasks and responsibilities you can expect to find in a product manager job description.
2. The product manager job description: Tasks and responsibilities
The exact tasks and responsibilities included in a product manager job description will vary depending on several factors.
For instance, a product manager working solo in a small company may have a much broader spectrum of tasks than a product manager who is part of a large product management team. It also depends on where the product is currently at in its life cycle.
But, generally, the tasks and responsibilities of a product manager are steeped in the product management process—a seven-step process which takes the product from inception through to development, launch, and iteration.
Here are some of the most common product manager tasks and responsibilities you might find in a product manager job description:
- Conducting and/or overseeing research to gain a deep understanding of the customer/end user’s needs
- Gathering and managing ideas coming from different sources (e.g. internal stakeholders, business leaders, and customers/end users). This includes building and maintaining an ideas backlog, and keeping stakeholders informed about the status of their ideas and requests
- Developing a product strategy which directly relates to the business strategy
- Defining and writing product specifications. This is usually a document which sets out the product requirements, answering questions such as: What should be built and why? What should the new product or feature achieve? How will success be defined and measured?
- Building and owning the product roadmap—the strategic plan of action for the product, ensuring execution is aligned with strategy
- Prioritization: Taking a closer look at the ideas backlog and deciding which items should be prioritized in line with the product strategy and KPIs
- Defining overall success metrics for the product
- Overseeing the development and delivery of the product; turning items from the backlog into tasks and projects for the development/engineering team
- Writing user stories. User stories are short descriptions of features to be built, written from the perspective of the end user to emphasize the value this particular feature will bring
- Overseeing the creation of product prototypes in collaboration with end users, internal stakeholders, designers, and developers, and gathering and implementing feedback on those prototypes
- Running experiments and using analytics to measure the product’s performance and identify opportunities for improvement
- Setting up processes to capture and organize user feedback
Within and around these product-related tasks, product managers are expected to:
- Liaise with and present to the leadership team to gain approval for product-related initiatives
- Collaborate and build strong relationships with a variety of stakeholders, from designers and developers to marketing, sales, customer care, and leadership
- Act as the go-to person for anything and everything concerning the product
We’ve shared a rather long and extensive list of product manager tasks! Note that you might not find all of these responsibilities in every product manager job description. As we mentioned previously, the exact role of the product manager varies depending on the company size, setup, and product type.
Next up in our exploration of the product manager job description: the skills and qualifications that employers typically look for.
3. The product manager job description: Skills, requirements, and qualifications
Another important aspect of any job description is skills and qualifications.
When it comes to product manager job descriptions, you’ll find that the role requires technical know-how and business acumen coupled with a range of soft skills—with skills like communication, problem-solving, and critical and strategic thinking taking top priority.
We’ve written about the top product manager skills in this guide, and we’ll run through the most important skills and qualifications that tend to feature in product manager job descriptions now.
We’ll divide them in terms of hard skills, soft skills, and qualifications and other requirements.
The product manager job description: Hard skills
- Proficiency in the most popular product management tools
- Thorough understanding of the product life cycle and the product management process
- Ability to run A/B tests and other experiments
- Ability to analyze and interpret data
- An understanding of web technologies and programming languages (i.e. the technical side of product development)
- An understanding of UX principles
- Ability to conduct customer and market research
- Developing proof of concepts and prototyping
- Ability to build and manage a product roadmap
The product manager job description: Soft skills
- Communication, collaboration, and interpersonal skills
- The ability to problem-solve
- The ability to prioritize
- Strategic thinking
- A knack for storytelling
- Excellent time management
- Confident decision-making
- The ability to manage multiple projects and priorities at once
The product manager job description: Qualifications & other requirements
- A background in marketing, software engineering, business administration, project management, or something similar
- A product management certification (learn more about how to get one in our full product management certification guide)
- Experience in a specific industry (for example, finance, healthcare, e-commerce, media, etc.)
Bear in mind that this isn’t a hard-and-fast, universal set of product manager requirements—nor would you be expected to meet every single one of them when applying for a product manager job.
As always, different companies will prioritize different skills and qualifications depending on the exact role they’re hiring for.
4. Product manager job description examples
The best way to understand product manager job descriptions is to look at real-world examples. So: let’s evaluate a real product manager job ad that is live at the time of writing.
Product manager job description example: Home Depot
Our first example is a job ad for a remote product manager, posted by Home Depot.
This product manager job description reads:
“The product manager position is responsible for delivering business value to drive sales, improve efficiency, and improve customer satisfaction through the production of quality products.
Within their designated enterprise product line, PMs focus on delivering incremental value by driving product changes and working closely with a team of developers, designers, and business partners. They support in-depth business reviews, communicate and present across all levels of the organization, and support cross-functional product teams.”
For this particular role, the main tasks, responsibilities, and key accountabilities have been divided as follows: 40% strategy and planning, 30% delivery and execution, and 30% people.
Within these categories, the product manager will be expected to carry out the following tasks:
Strategy and planning (40%):
- Translate business goals and end user needs into product strategy
- Identify goals, metrics, and analytics to determine product value
- Continually make recommendations and refinements to the product backlog based on learnings
- Conduct end user research to help identify user stories and determine Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
- Monitor the competitive landscape
Delivery and execution (30%):
- Ensure the product is aligned with company, stakeholder, and end user priorities to drive sales, improve efficiency, and improve customer satisfaction
- Formulate, test, and refine assumptions and hypotheses through user research and testing
- Identify pros, cons, issues, obstacles, dependencies, and value associated with features and enhancements
- Participate in standups, iteration planning sessions, product demos, and retrospectives
- Foster collaboration with team members (engineering, user experience designers, etc.) to drive value and collectively identify and resolve impediments
- Act as a proponent of modern software development practices
- Advocate for the end user and stakeholder by empathizing with and understanding user needs
- Manage cross-functional team and stakeholder expectations to execute on product strategy
- Exhibit active listening, facilitate sessions, and clearly communicate at all levels
Under preferred qualifications and desired skills, knowledge, and competencies, the Home Depot product manager job description lists:
- 1-3 years of relevant work experience
- Demonstrated experience with modern software development product management practices and agile methodologies
- Experience working in a fast-paced, fluid environment where priorities shift on a regular basis
- Experience conducting user research and testing to understand needs
- Business insight
- Collaboration and communication
- Ability to build strong customer relationships and deliver customer-centric solutions
- Organizational savvy (the ability to maneuver comfortably through complex policy, process, and people-related organizational dynamics)
The estimated salary range for this role is $80,000-$180,000. You can see how this compares to the average product manager salary in our dedicated guide.
This is just one real-world example of a product manager job description. For further examples—and to get a feel for how the product manager job description varies from company to company—search “product manager” on job sites like Indeed and LinkedIn.
Next, we’ll look at job descriptions for junior and senior product managers.
5. Junior product manager job descriptions
Those new to the field might start with a junior product manager role.
The tasks of a junior product manager aren’t much different from those of a product manager. However, being less experienced in the field, junior product managers will usually support more senior product managers rather than acting completely independently.
You’ll notice that junior product manager job descriptions place much more emphasis on soft skills and an ability to learn on the job. This is an entry level role, after all, so it’s important that the requirements reflect this.
So what are the typical features of a junior product manager job description? Let’s take a look at a real-world example.
Junior product manager job description example: PacerPro
PacerPro is a market-leading workflow automation and experience capture tool for US federal court filings. At the time of writing, they are hiring for a junior product manager.
The junior product manager description reads:
“The [junior product manager] role is suited for a quick learner and creative thinker who wants to develop innovative products for managing complex litigation. You need experience in a project management role, strong communication and organization skills, and an interest in the intersection of legal practice and data.
In your role, you will be one of the first product team members, reporting to the Director of Product. You will work with PacerPro’s product, design, and engineering teams to help develop and maintain legal technology products for our customers, expand our product offerings, and widen our customer base.”
For this particular role, the junior product manager’s responsibilities include:
- Helping to define the company’s product vision and strategic roadmap, including setting objectives and key results
- Working with UX/UI designers to develop wireframes, mockups, and interactive prototypes
- Analyzing customer and industry data to uncover and understand user requirements, organization goals, and technical capabilities and apply them to functional concepts
- Generating user stories with acceptance criteria and creating supporting documentation
- Coordinating with sales and engineering teams to ensure functional and visual design quality at each step of the software development process
The requirements focus primarily on soft and transferable skills, including:
- Strong critical thinking skills
- Demonstrated ability to develop practical subject matter expertise in unfamiliar areas
- Clear, concise, and prompt written and oral communication for a variety of audiences
- Organized approach to projects requiring data entry, organization, and/or analysis
- Ability to simultaneously manage and execute multiple projects and competing priorities
In this example, the junior product manager job description is much broader than the product manager job description, with less specific requirements in terms of technical expertise and experience.
Good news for entry-level product managers looking to land their first job in the field!
6. Senior product manager job descriptions
After product manager, the next step in the product manager career path is usually senior product manager.
The senior title means different things to different companies, so the exact tasks featured in senior product manager job descriptions can vary greatly.
Still, the senior product manager typically continues to have a hands-on role in executing the product management process. They may also manage junior product managers and focus more heavily on strategy.
Let’s explore how a senior product manager job description might look with an example.
Senior product manager job description example: Audible
A subsidiary of Amazon, Audible is an online podcast and audiobook service. At the time of writing, they are hiring for a senior product manager.
The senior product manager job description reads:
“Audible is seeking a Senior Product Manager who will develop global product strategies, build and launch unequaled customer-centric experiences in a variety of geographies. This role is part of the Global Expansion & Growth team, within the Product Organization, and is pivotal to accelerating Audible global growth and ensuring that we deliver exceptional experiences to our customers across the globe.”
The ideal candidate:
- Has a track record of defining, building, and launching high-quality consumer-facing products
- Has a demonstrated ability to evaluate opportunistic and innovative ideas, and create product roadmaps that drive customer delight and business results
- Obsesses over customer needs and leverages quantitative and qualitative data to back up assumptions and drive decisions
- Knows how to gain trust and build consensus among diverse stakeholders
- Proactively identifies and communicates risks, and adapts their communication style to suit the audience
The tasks and responsibilities listed in this senior product manager job description focus heavily on delivering customer-centric solutions, identifying and tapping into market opportunities, and driving growth at scale.
The senior product manager should:
- Envision, define, build, and launch unequaled experiences that pioneer new ways to reach global customers in a variety of geographies
- Extend global products into localized experiences that meet the local customers’ needs and tap into market-specific opportunities
- Learn the needs, pain points, and behavior of International Audible users and develop strong intuition about solutions that will work for them
- Frame and lead discussions with key business and technical stakeholders to assess opportunities, make data-driven recommendations, and build consensus ahead of important investment decisions
As is the case with most senior product manager roles, this position requires at least five years’ experience in a product management role (ideally customer-facing), a degree (the field of study isn’t specified), and demonstrated experience in agile, lean product management processes.
As you can see, there is lots of overlap between junior, mid-level, and senior product manager job descriptions in terms of day-to-day tasks.
The main difference is that junior product manager job descriptions focus on soft skills and learning on the job, while mid-level and senior product manager roles require more technical expertise and, oftentimes, a more strategic focus.
Learn more about the role in our dedicated guide to the senior product manager.
7. Deciphering product manager job descriptions when applying for jobs
Throughout this post, we’ve explored the skills, requirements, and tasks you can typically expect to find in product manager job descriptions, ranging from junior to mid-level to senior roles.
If you’re an aspiring product manager considering your first role, or a product manager looking to step into a senior position, it’s important to bear in mind that you don’t need to tick every single box in the job ad.
When composing job descriptions, employers will often write up their wishlist with the “perfect” candidate in mind. But, in reality, it’s unlikely that any one candidate will satisfy all criteria.
So: When applying for jobs and reading through product manager job descriptions, don’t let those seemingly-never-ending (and sometimes impossibly specific) lists of requirements deter you. If you can demonstrate most of the required soft skills and a good handful of the hard skills, you can confidently put yourself forward for the role.
To learn more about product manager job descriptions, we recommend browsing job sites for roles across different industries, company types, and seniority levels.
You’ll begin to get a feel for what the product manager job description means to different companies—and get an idea of the kinds of roles and sectors that spark your interest and best speak to your career aspirations.
Want to learn more about a career in product management? Check out the following: