The Best Reddit Product Management Advice for Beginners

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Is the Reddit product management advice out there actually useful or not? In this article, an experienced PM assesses some popular tips.

All manner of advice can be found under the subreddit r/ProductManagement: requests for help on how to deal with specific situations product managers tend to encounter on the job, offers of career advice on how to become a PM or being promoted to the upper ranks of the profession, as well as rants against particularly nagging stakeholders. 

Amongst this maze of both solicited and unsolicited advice, how are aspiring and junior PMs to navigate between conflicting pieces of information? We’ve attempted to create a curated collection of some of the best product management advice to be found on Reddit.Here’s what we’ll cover: 

  1. How to break into product: general advice
  2. Reddit product management interview advice 
  3. Product management advice for the long haul
  4. Final thoughts

Just a short note that some comments have been edited for clarity and brevity. Let’s get into it!

1. How to break into product: general advice

If you could only read one thread summarizing many of the possible ways of breaking into product without any prior direct experience, this subthread manages to answer most of the questions keeping aspiring product managers awake at night (mind you, it’s quite detailed and a bit long for Reddit’s standards).

The thread reads almost like a mini-guide to some of the most frequently asked questions on product, including:

  1. Credentials and education: what might be beneficial, how these can be used to make a career change into product management, how to decide if they are worthwhile.
  2. How to approach the problem of having no direct experience in product.
  3. What to look for in job descriptions if you are looking for entry-level positions.
  4. How to identify transferable skills.

Why is this good advice? The thread starter is not offering vanilla-style opinions: myths are dispelled without much ceremony and the tone is one of “there are a couple of things worth doing, and quite a few that you shouldn’t bother with”. 

Learn more: What is Product Management? An Introductory Guide

2. Reddit product management interview advice

A very popular Reddit topic on product management is interview advice: how to approach interviews, what’s reasonable to expect in an interview, and what’s the best way of navigating them. 

Product management interview advice: what not to do

2023 was the year when the product world’s two most-debated topics were tech layoffs and how to leverage ChatGPT. Well, the following Reddit product management advice, offered by a hiring manager, gives very clear directions on how not to use AI in remote job interviews:

I’m hiring a PM and just rejected a candidate who was evidently reading out from ChatGPT.

All their responses were accurate textbook definitions, all the right buzzwords, and I could see them typing in and clear eye movements signaling me that they were reading through.

Instead of calling out their bull, I started to grill them further on a specific topic and I was amazed at how quick they were able to enter the prompt into GPT and read out the responses. After a certain point, they were unable to defend/justify their rationale and kept blabbering.

To all the junior folks who are actively interviewing, please be honest by mentioning whenever you don’t know anything. We would appreciate and respect that more than lies. It’s easier to detect bull than you think.

A lot of times, we expect you to not know things and ask clarifying questions. We often screen for whether you are able to think right or not, everything else can be taught and we are ready to invest in such candidates.

Why is this good advice? Beyond the obvious (the candidate was rejected), preparing a detailed script and just reciting it during an interview does nothing to improve a candidate’s interview skills. It also prevents a real dialogue from taking place, something of particular importance when trying to assess if a company and a role and the right ones for you.

Learn more: The 11 Top Product Manager Interview Questions, Answered

Also on the topic of interview advice, a PM subthread nails down a common frustration among those who have been faced with bookish, theoretical questions in interviews. Why should companies care if a candidate can memorize endless product management frameworks? Well, it’s not about the frameworks themselves, those are simply a proxy to evaluate Product Sense:

The product sense part of the interview is assessing whether or not you can guide their company in making the right decisions to meet their customer needs and their business objectives.

These are the “theoretical” questions you’ll get, and it gives the interviewer a sense of how you approach problem-solving, brainstorming, building a strategy, prioritizing a roadmap, etc. 

Why is this good advice? Besides restoring some hope that the product management interview process might not be entirely broken, this kind of advice allows candidates to keep the bigger picture in mind. 

Product management interview advice: how to figure out if a company is product-led

Let’s face it: not all companies can offer a fulfilling work environment for a product manager. A very reasonable number of them do not even know what a product manager really is.

And once you have tasted the water of disappointment a couple of times, you might start to wonder, like this Redditor, if there are any companies in the world that do product the way it’s supposed to be done. The best answer sums up the only possible attitude to have:

Realize there is no one “right” way to do product management or even to run a business. Being comfortable with uncertainty and a bit of chaos is one of the rites of passage for PMs.

Building on the importance of having a two-way interview to help you determine if a particular company is a good fit for you, another Reddit product management subthread was started by a PM who realized, after reading product expert Teresa Torres’s The Building Trap, that they probably hadn’t been doing product as it should be done. So what kind of questions can a PM ask during the recruitment process to ensure they get a fairer chance next time?

Tell me a little bit about the last big feature the product org has released. How was it prioritized over other features? What was the company strategy that drove this prioritization? What customer/user insights drove this prioritization? Who played a role in how it was prioritized, and who ultimately made the decision to prioritize it?

Why is this good advice? These questions, if answered, will allow the candidate to gain an accurate picture of the decision-making and prioritization processes used within the company. The absence of answers will in turn indicate that the company might base its decisions on little more than intuition, guesswork or managerial preference.

3. Product management advice for the long haul

A third category of topics which is quite popular on product management Reddit is either specific situations that product managers continuously face on their day-to-day work or the ever important matter of career development.

The good news is that there’s quite a lot of helpful answers and actionable advice out there. I’ve picked out some of the best for you:

How to solve the stakeholder management conundrum

Any product manager knows that stakeholder management is one of the most crucial aspects of the role. So naturally it pops up a lot.

On a subthread about stakeholder communication, one Redditor asks for advice on how to deal with stakeholders who push for specific solutions to be implemented, while not bothering to explain why they’re so crucial in the first place. How should a PM approach this delicate situation while preserving the relationship with said stakeholders?

This was one of the best pieces of advice from the replies:

Avoid antagonizing your demanding stakeholder. Avoid justifying yourself.

Instead, ask for their help in understanding the why, and what kind of positive impact it might have for the company or the product.  

Why is this good advice? It provides an actionable and concrete strategy on how to deal with a tricky situation while also taking steps to make the relationship evolve in a direction that becomes easier for the PM to manage.

On a related topic, a different Reddit product management subthread asks for help on how to manage your manager, also a very typical situation that most people working in product go through. For product managers (or in this case, product owners), being in a situation where they’re being micromanaged runs against everything good they have been taught about their trade.

In a way, it’s almost like the ultimate test: will you bow to the demands of an unreasonable manager, or will you stand your ground and understand that while people cannot be changed, circumstances can?

Why is this good advice? Nearly all product people will face at least one situation where they’ll realize the only way of avoiding becoming an impostor is to start looking for a new job. Learning early on that not everything can be solved through individual action is a powerful mechanism for product managers to develop. 

Learn more: What is Stakeholder Management? A Guide for Product Managers

avoid the product management conundrum

How to continue building your product management skills

One of the most popular Reddit product management subthreads this year is actually a visual guide to some of the most relevant books for PMs. 

The guide features quite a few PM classics, including the Cagan trilogy, but since it’s broken down into different sections and subsections, it provides a very manageable overview, both for novice and more experienced PMs.

Why is this good advice? While there is no shortage of reading lists out there, it is not so common to find one presented in a way that does not deter the future reader from even getting started. It can be very intimidating getting 100+ titles to browse from and be left with little idea on where to begin. 

Learn more: The 15 Best Product Management Books for Beginners

Beyond the proposed readings above, the greater question most product managers will face after working in product for a while is: How can I get better? And, the secondary, but not less relevant question: How can I leverage my achievements to ensure I can move up the career ladder? So here are two separate Reddit product management subthreads written by veterans (a decade of experience each in product) worth taking a look at.

The first subthread is a bulletpoint list featuring 9 lessons learned after 10 years as a product manager. It stands out from the average Reddit subthread because it’s long, well structured (the summary section is right on top, so users can choose to just read it and stop there if the content does not feel particularly relevant to them) and, last but not least, it’s written in a very intuitive way. First lesson: always separate the problem from the solution. Second lesson: most people don’t understand what your job is. Last lesson: don’t be a perfectionist. These three lessons alone will go a long way in reducing work-related stress.

The second example of product wisdom in this Reddit thread about product management is presented as a 15 point “cheat sheet”. Like in the previous example, the layout is very concise and not particularly demanding. The first point makes for a strong opening: don’t believe the saying that a PM is the CEO of a product.

Other points further down reinforce the idea that a PM doesn’t have to be, after all, invincible: a product manager cannot be expected to know everything, but should know when to ask for help, shying away from making decisions isn’t going to help anyone and don’t be conflict avoidant (just learn how to pick your battles).

Why is this good advice? It’s not necessarily easy to have access to unfiltered advice from people who have learnt it the hard way over the years. It’s much easier to get experienced product managers to talk about applied topics (what’s the best way to build a roadmap, what’s your favorite framework, etc) than getting them to share their reflections about the realities of the job. Both subthreads do that, in a clear cut way.

4. Final thoughts

Is it possible to find useful advice about product management on Reddit? The short answer is, yes, it is.

Whether users flock to Reddit because they are considering making a move into product management or are making their way through job interviews, or are looking for help navigating the typical dilemmas a PM is likely to face, there is advice worth reading there.

Good advice tends to recognize the importance of placing questions within a context and it is both actionable and backed up, either by experience or data. When looking to source the most useful advice, readers would be advised to take most statements with a pinch of salt, and to exercise their own judgment.

If you’re considering or only just getting started in the rich realm of product management, one place you can always rely on good advice is from seasoned experts. That’s why CareerFoundry’s Product Management Program is not only build on the foundation of a curriculum created by product pros, but students benefit from the Dual Mentorship model of a tutor and mentor who are both experienced product managers.

Just want to dip your toe and see if it’s for you? Then try this free product management short course on for size. Ready to learn more? Check out these articles:

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  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online product manager events with industry experts, or check out CareerFoundry graduate Farley’s product management portfolio project.

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