How to Find a Product Manager Job Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Gonzalo December 19, 2018

If you’ve ever thought of starting or advancing your career as a Product Manager by going abroad, now is the time. E-commerce, fintech, medtech and a plethora of other sectors are expanding worldwide, and they are hungry for great PMs. If you want to find the best Product Manager job abroad, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you score it.

Are you ready for a Product Manager job abroad?

Product management is one of the most coveted career paths for college and MBA graduates. Glassdoor recently called it one of the top 10 best jobs in America. On top of that, the employment rate for product managers is estimated to grow by 9% by 2024 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics., and product managers are among the highest-paid professionals and the career offers substantial opportunities for advancement.

Currently, there are countless openings for Project Managers abroad, according to multiple job boards specializing on the subject. That’s because, after software engineering, product manager jobs are the most in-demand roles in technology. In terms of job description and performance, they are also the hardest to define and measure.

“A great product manager has the brain of an engineer, the heart of a designer, and the speech of a diplomat.” — Deep Nishar (Former Vice President of Product, LinkedIn)

The product manager is the critical link between products, customers, and corporate managers. Simply put, the product manager converts an idea into a profitable product for the company. In his book, Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love, Marty Cagan defines the goal of a product manager as: “to discover a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible.”

The skills required to exercise that role include:

  • Understanding customer needs, the product, and the goals of the company
  • Market knowledge
  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Problem solving and people management skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Technical knowledge
  • Exceptional leadership skills
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Data management

The product manager has to balance a range of competing objectives, and communicate effectively at every level from the executive to engineers and designers. That’s why your experience will have a huge impact on being considered for a product manager position.  

Upskilling

The easiest way to start off in a product management career as a new graduate or to make a major career change into product management is to take a position as an associate product manager. But with data technology’s rapid growth and products and consumer needs constantly changing, it is important that product managers continually upgrade their skills:

  • Traditional classes and certification courses:
    • Pragmatic Marketing — offers certifications, public and private courses, build-your-own curriculum, workshops  
    • General Assembly — offers full-time, part-time, online, and global campuses
    • 280Group — offers certification, public and private, online courses, templates, and webinars.
  • Continuing education and specialized programs at universities
  • Meeting groups and informal learning opportunities:
    • ProductCamp is a user-organized, “un-conference” where marketing leaders and product managers come together to create a free workshop/meeting place for sharing best practices and networking.
  • Courses in data management software geared toward product managers:
  • Training in product roadmapping tools:

Where to Find Product Manager Jobs Abroad

When looking for an international position, the best way to locate your dream job abroad is to conduct an online job search and network.

Tip: When using search engines to locate overseas jobs, target country-specific job boards by entering the country name in your Google search. This should narrow your results to those featured in the region of interest.

Jobbatical

At the risk of tooting our own horn, Jobbatical is a great starting point. Connecting companies with tech, business or creative talent around the world is our thing, so if you are looking for a Marketing Job abroad, we are the perfect place to start.

Job Boards

When using search engines to locate product manager positions, be creative and specific. There are many different industry sectors that rely on product managers, so narrowing your search parameters with keywords may help you navigate to your perfect job in an sector that interests you.

Here is an example of job boards for specific industries:

Networking

Never underestimate the power of networking. You’d be amazed what you can learn from fellow product managers, anything from new job openings to which companies to work for and which to avoid. You can find project manager communities on sites like Facebook or Slack (Product Manager HQ) to connect with product managers who are working abroad.

Also, it may be wise to join an online community in the area where you are considering as your new home. Overseas transitions can be isolating and stressful. Having a few connections with the locals will make the transition smoother.

How to Apply for Product Manager Jobs Abroad

Once you’ve decided upon a position, prepare to “pitch” yourself in a way that will maximize the chance of landing that dream job. The basic “good-practice” rules are still in order, here:

  • Thoroughly review the job description. If you’re passionate about a particular company or sector, explain why and highlight your competency in the required skills. Make sure to emphasize your work experience with data management as this is an emerging skill in the product management field.
  • We will talk more about a “portfolio” later, but be prepared with “roadmaps”, statistics on successful product launches you have managed, and other commendations or references that can vouch for your expertise as a product manager.
  • Customize your resume and cover letter based on the company and the job requirements. Make sure your resume is up-to-date and be ready to explain any absences or gaps in your resume.
  • Direct your application to a hiring manager–by name–if possible. Knowing the name of the contact person for the job will make a good first impression.
  • Make sure your contact information is accurate and current. You’d be surprised by how often mistakes in contact information has led to disappointment and missed connections.
  • Pay attention to spelling when applying for jobs abroad. Your resume should reflect the local language; for example U.S. English vs. U.K. English. Many non-English speaking Asian and European countries prefer U.K. English.
  • Consider attaching a video that provides a more personable introduction than a written application. It should be short–two to three minutes, and explain why you think you are the best candidate for the position.

Remember that a product manager job entails exceptional leadership and communication responsibilities. Demonstrate you have these talents by convincing the hiring company that the extra effort it takes to hire you–a foreign talent–is well worth their while.

Applying For Multiple Product Manager Jobs Abroad

It makes sense to apply for multiple roles if you’re serious about pursuing an international position. There may not be one perfect job so give yourself as many opportunities as possible. It’s a good idea to tailor each application, right down to its look and feel, but be very careful that you don’t forget to change the salutation and company name when applying for multiple positions.

Attention to details and organization are critical skill sets, so you want to demonstrate them throughout the application process.

Interviewing

There are resources available to make the most of any interview, including YouTube videos and books specifically on how to “Crack the PM Interview”.

When you do land an interview, be authentic and passionate about what you do. Talk about what drives you, what makes you unique, and how you can contribute to the company’s success.

Be aware of cultural differences. Some cultures are much more direct than others, others are more formal. In Asia, for example, a relationship of honesty and trust must typically be established before any business commences. So if you apply for a position there, be patient as things may proceed slowly at first.

If the hiring company asks to arrange a phone or video interview, make sure you’re aware of time zone differences and select a time that’s convenient for you both. Make sure to eliminate all distractions and disruptive noises during the interview time. Check your equipment and verify that everything functions as it should.

Dress professionally. First impressions really do count. Be concise, and answer truthfully if you don’t know the answer to a question.

Have questions ready to ask the interviewer. If it’s a company you’re really keen to work for, make sure you’ve checked out their latest media releases and social media comments so you’re aware of what is ‘top-of-mind’ for them. Interviewers are always impressed if you really show you know their business and have taken the time to do background research into them and their challenges.

Tips for The Product Manager Interview

Remember, a successful product manager is defined by two essential factors:

  1. Outcomes they helped drive
  2. The processes they employed along the way

Keep these two factors in mind, and prepare short, concise answers for the interview.

  • Prepare a portfolio: While you may not have portfolio typical of a designer or writer, you should still have samples of your work. Gather documents, roadmaps, and electronic sources that demonstrate your skills as a team leader and a planner, and the product statistics that show your accomplishments as a product manager. Provide links to blog post or website announcements of product releases. Have a collection of experiment design documents, product specifications, cohort analysis spreadsheets, and any other tools (Word Doc, Excel, and template files) you’ve created. Your ability to demonstrate a proven track record of delivering products to market is critical.
  • Be sure to have and display knowledge of the regional market and the products that could impact that market. Understand the company’s efforts to reach that market, and consider products they may be interested in launching.
  • While many strategic thinkers have great ideas, the ability to pull a team together to deliver a product to market is the real measure of success. Be prepared to talk about your leadership and team management skills. Also be prepared to talk about problem solving and conflict resolution. A good product manager is a director to all, master of none, and as such, needs exemplary people and communications skills.
  • Be prepared to adapt to different interviewers. As a prospective candidate, particularly if you’re overseas, you may have multiple interviews with various interviewers. Plan for a meeting with HR for initial vetting, then advance to interviews with designers and/or engineers, and possibly even the CEO. Be prepared to adjust your answers and technical knowledge to the interests of each.

Accepting the Offer

It’s been a challenging experience but you’ve persevered, and now you have a job offer on your plate with one critical decision before you: Do you take it? Before accepting the offer you should:

  • Determine if the company is a good fit for you, based on your values and aspirations.
  • Be sure you understand and agree to the terms in the written contract. Consult legal assistance before signing on for employment if you are unsure of anything.
  • Review the job description and know what is expected of you in the position.
  • Research the employment laws of the country. Review work permit requirements and visa requirements to understand types of visas, the application process, and requirements for both you and the hiring company.
  • Know what your net salary will be and the cost of living.
  • Find out from your local tax office if you are required to taxes in your home country while you are abroad.
  • Ask if moving expenses or accommodation is part of the contract agreement and if they will assist you with relocation or finding accommodation.
  • Discuss and agree on a start date.

Congratulations! Now it’s time to prepare for what could possibly be the biggest adventure of a lifetime. Prepare yourself for the move by doing some research into the location, people, and customs of the region to which you are relocating. Familiarity will make the transition easier.

What are you waiting for? Browse new jobs in product management abroad today.

Not a product manager?

We wrote several guides on getting a marketingdesignsoftware engineering, data science or product job abroad. You can learn how to get a job abroad here.

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