Much love to Blind (a PgM success story)

Nov 22, 2019 21 Comments

I know a lot of ppl on here love to shit on Blind and say how toxic it is, but truth is, without this community many of us wouldn't know the success we have today. I'm way overdue for posting my thanks on here, and tell you guys that I'm so thankful for all your posts, rants, tips, and thoughts. I LOVE YOU ALL AND THANK YOU

TLDR : from Canada, after two years of trying hard to land a job in FAANG in the US and getting rejected six ways from Sunday, I'm finally at my dream PgM job at Google! TC 210 / YOE 10+ 

For all of you out there who are struggling, here's how I did it :

RESUME

Like I said, I'm from Canada and I started applying to jobs in the US about 2 years ago. Back then, nobody would even look at my resume. I iterated it over 20 different versions, read a ton of online posts about how to make your resume stand out, tried different templates, even ended up buying a professional one. I tried all the techniques in the playbook. Sending resumes by email, snail mail, and even looking up hiring managers on Linkedin and pinging them. I wrote custom cover letters for each job, thinking through how I could help solve specific business problems that would resonate, emphasizing my passion for my work and the company's mission. All that was bullshit, and the only thing that really helped me get noticed after an entire YEAR of coming home from work and plowing through resume alternations, was stumbling on "The Google Resume" by Gayle Laakmann. The key takeaway : show results, use METRICS to prove it, and have 2 pages tops - no bs. After iterating a few more times using her book, I sent my resume out again, and got interviews from both Amazon and Google. Yep! No references - just sent my resume into the void and got called back by recruiters!

TALKING WITH RECRUITERS

Which brings me to my next point. If you're not in the Bay Area, or outside of the world of tech, realize that these recruiters speak a different language. I only knew like 1 person who moved to the US who was willing to give me tips on how to talk to recruiters, but it still didn't sink in for a while that I had to change my mindset about the whole conversation. FAANG companies are not hierarchical and recruiters (we're talking about PgM and Product jobs here) look for friendliness and good communication first and foremost, so if you're used to speaking in a formal tone with leadership at work, using a ton of jargon like "synergy", "team optimization", and writing emails that end with "best regards", ditch that shit because they don't want to hear this bs. Be a normal person and talk about getting stuff done. 

TPM VS PGM

The other thing I've learned is that "Technical project manager" outside of FAANG is basically equivalent to a non-technical project manager at FAANG. The bar for technical literacy at Amazon and Google for a TPM was way higher than anything I'd seen before, and while I was considered to be in a "technical" role at previous companies, at FAANG you literally need to be an engineer at a level of "whatever level you're applying to - 1". I didn't know this and it did me a disservice to apply for TPM roles. Ditch your ego about being "technical" and just apply to non-technical roles if you want to get in. After that, you can always pursue a technical stream if it bothers you, and you'll have way more resources to do it from the inside. 

INTERVIEWS

This is obviously the hard part. I fucked up a lot on phone and on-sites, but I kept trying. I got into Google after many phone interviews - their process is long and I got passed around from team to team, with low interest, lost recruiters, no-shows during scheduled phone calls. I got in after my 2nd onsite. 

Read all the books from Gayle Laakmann and Lewis Lin (Decode and conquer and PM books as well). Do the work. I ended up with a 20-page doc on Q&A on all PgM and PM topics, and I had a matrix of success stories from my experience vs Google value (and Amazon leadership principles). 

What really helped me a ton was the Slack group from Lewin Lin. You can sign up to the practice channel and find interview practice buddies. That was PRICELESS because the more practice interviews you do, the more you desensitize yourself to the whole process, and eventually real interviews become just like another practice round with a buddy over the phone. It's also helpful to see how much some other people suck and it' a little confidence booster. Be a good citizen and take the time to give meaningful feedback to others. If your buddy doesn't suck, that's even more helpful and sometimes you run into really senior people who have really good questions. Either way, you learn the most doing these. If I had to go back and do it all over again, this is the single most important part I'd focus on. 

The Slack group is for PMs, so if you're a PgM, you can do all the behavioral ones, but challenge yourself to do other areas of PM interviews as well as interviewers might ask you estimation questions and strategic thinking as well. If you're a TPM you can use it to practice your technical design. 

SELF CONFIDENCE

If you're in a PgM or PM role, you're in a leadership role and a ton of people people end up relying on you, so whoever is hiring you needs to trust in your leadership ability. You can be the best PgM out there, but if you lack confidence, that will be a red flag right off the bat and you won't be credible. After applying for 2 years and hopping on an off the merry go round of endless phone calls with no results, I felt like a failure. I started questioning my own skills and worth, and I was downright depressed. Job search always takes a toll on you, and it shows when you interview. Nobody wants to hire somebody who's devoid of confidence or passion for their work, so no matter how drained you are, you need to take care of your spirits. What helped me was meditation (Headspace); a weird book called "psycho cybernetics" (hear me out here) that gave me tools that helped me build visualizations of positive interactions with interviewers; and a list of things I loved about my job. Basically you need a solid set of habits and techniques that you can use to calm down when you have anxiety, when self-doubt creeps in, or when you're getting depressed about failing. 

Most importantly, don't give up!! The more you try, the more you learn and improve. I never thought I'd get through this but if I did it, you can do it too!!

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TOP 21 Comments
  • Google ii66tt
    Says who? PgM or for that matter any role can bring leadership to it
    Nov 23, 2019 2
    • E*Trade / Finance cbEV72
      Pgm is a glorified task scheduler, overhead
      Nov 23, 2019
    • Maybe at etrade it is
      Dec 4, 2019
  • New
    scheme

    New

    BIO
    Started blind to get some break from work. Now I work to get some break from blind.
    schememore
    Congratulations and thanks for explaining in detail. Bet this will help many. 👍
    Nov 22, 2019 0
  • Deluxe / Product
    Levels

    Deluxe Product

    PRE
    Electronic Arts (EA)
    BIO
    AMA about video games industry.
    Levelsmore
    Thanks for the info. Did your TPM recruiter help with your PgM application or did you get another referral?
    2d 3
    • I didn't get any referrals, i applied on the website 😛✨
      2d
    • Deluxe / Product
      Levels

      Deluxe Product

      PRE
      Electronic Arts (EA)
      BIO
      AMA about video games industry.
      Levelsmore
      Congrats again! Wishing you the best and more career success!
      Yesterday
  • Congrats!!! There should be a Blind channel where only positive posts are allowed. This is great and thanks for sharing all this detail.
    Nov 22, 2019 0
  • Deluxe / Product
    Levels

    Deluxe Product

    PRE
    Electronic Arts (EA)
    BIO
    AMA about video games industry.
    Levelsmore
    @OP, Congrats. This is super helpful!

    How did you get around the Google cool down period? It seems as though you didn’t have to wait 12 months after failing the phone screen. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood. Would be good to get an idea of the timeline.
    2d 1
    • If you apply to a different role, you don't go through the cooldown period. At first i was applying to TPM, but ended up in PgM.
      2d
  • New / Biz Dev
    NonCodeSW1

    New Biz Dev

    BIO
    program manager
    NonCodeSW1more
    Congratulations!
    6h 0
  • New tkVg33
    Congratulations on decoding the interview process.
    Former recruiter here who coaches ppl on resume, LI, interviewing. While I can’t comment on the external resources you mentioned, the advice is spot on, all of it. Thanks for sharing it with everyone.
    Dec 17, 2019 0
  • Microsoft PrrN03
    Congrats.. your post is extremely helpful for all others!! :-)
    Nov 22, 2019 0
  • Google elxadal
    What L did you get hired at?
    Nov 22, 2019 1
  • E*Trade / Finance cbEV72
    Pgm is not a leadership role. It’s a pm. It’s good you got a job you wanted of course
    Nov 23, 2019 0

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