7 books to help you land your first product manager job

Product management is hard to break into. Why is that? Product managers set the direction for their teams, and often an entire company, to take. If they make the wrong call, it could be catastrophic. Because of the tremendous amount of risk associating with being a product manager, hiring managers usually prefer to hire people who have previous experience.

So what can you do if you’re a recent grad or looking to make a transition? Prepare yourself for the job interview before it happens so that you can nail it will confidence by reading the following books by these product management thought leaders.

Inspired by Marty Cagan is at the top of my list of books you should read. This book is a great guide to a number of discovery and design techniques. Marty also has a great blog at Silicon Valley Product Group.

The must-have book for future PMs, Cracking the PM Interviewis considered the industry bible for prepping for PM interviews. The authors have done a great job of covering everything you need to know to nail that interview from writing cover letters and resumes to example questions and answers. What’s really valuable is the information about how the PM role varies across companies.

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman is one of the most highly regarded introductory texts to usability and interaction design. It’s also a great resource for helping you think of examples of everyday design problems that you may need to talk about in job interviews.

Sprint by Jake Knapp is a great playbook for collaboratively brainstorming, problem-solving, designing, prototyping and validating concepts in 5 days. If you haven’t read this yet, you’ve gotta get it. It’s a fairly quick read, too, but it’s full of great information.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is similar to Sprint in that it’s a playbook to help you get a new product created and into the hands of customers as quickly as possible.

Lean Analytics is a book to read after you’ve read Sprint and Lean Startup. It provides further guidance on how to use data to build better products.

Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Perri is geared towards someone who has been doing product management already, but it provides some excellent cautionary tales of things to avoid which I think would be useful for anyone seeking a product management position.

These are my favorite books for people interested in breaking into product management. What are some of your recommendations?

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