How to Find PM Roles for You
As an aspiring PM, or an experienced one
How do you find a PM role that actually is a fit for you?
It’s easier said than done.
There are so many roles, so many titles, so many levels, and, most of all, so many job boards.
The Two Motions of Sales
I have long said: your job search is enterprise sales.
So let’s start a lesson on sales. There are two types of sales:
Inbound sales is the process of taking the leads that come to you and converting as many of them as you can into sales. Outbound sales is going out into the market and getting more leads.
When you boil it down, the same two motions apply to recruiting:
Inbound: Organic interest. This is people reaching out to you. Every tech worker who worked in 2018-2021 knows about this. Hungry recruiters messaging you.
Outbound: This is you going out there. Dropping resumes, writing cover letters, getting references, networking. It’s all about you grinding, sending applications, doing the homework, and connecting the dots.
Inbound is great, but in a tough job market, inbound has more or less dried up. Recruiters have tended to be the first to go in tech’s mass layoffs. With the tighter market, companies can post a job posting and get 200 qualified applicants the day later.
The Story of Outbound Sales
This has made outbound sales all the more important. Outbound sales is all about widening the top of the funnel for your recruiting funnel. It’s getting your foot in the door into more processes.
It works magic for sales - and it’s the reason Apollo.io exists. So being a VP of Product there has given me a unique window into outbound sales. I’ve been speaking with practitioners and experts in the field daily.
One of the first things you’ll learn when you talk to these folks is that within outbound, there are actually two subcategories of motions:
External Buying Intent: This is going out there and trying to reach out to companies who may have intent to purchase your product. Users who do this use a tool like Apollo by searching for people who work in a certain industry with certain job titles at a specific seniority. This is most common at Small-Medium sized businesses.
Target Account Lists: This is the totally different world of large sales teams. They already know the entire universe of potential buyers of their product. So what they do is assign their sales representatives territories within that universe.
It’s a fascinating world in sales. And if you think about it, the same categories translate well over to the job search:
External Buying Intent: In recruiting, this means focusing on all companies already hiring for a specific role, level and space. You focus on applying to what’s out there and keeping a pulse on job board for what else becomes available.
Target Account Lists: This means targeting a hand-picked list of companies you want to work at. It’s not just about seeing what job postings you might come across, but instead focusing on companies you want to work at.
This piece is about managing both elements of that outbound process to success.
It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I’ve spent the past few weeks painstakingly interviewing 25 PMs who recently received jobs. I’ve also been talking to the world’s leading experts in outbound sales.
I’m finally ready to uncover from under my crab shell and share all the insights I’ve gleaned in today’s mega-piece. We’ll cover everything you need to know to find the next PM role that is right for you:
How to figure out what you actually want
Building a target account list
Leveling to the right roles
Job trigger architecture
How to network in
Top job boards
At 6,500 words and weeks of work, it’s a mini-book: everything you need to know to find your next PM role.
1. Figure Out What You Actually Want
Before you start swiping right on every job opportunity that pops up on your LinkedIn feed, do you know what you're really fishing for? The job market isn't a buffet. You can't have it all.
So, let's get granular here. There are so many different things you can optimize for:
Something that’s fun
Great work-life balance
A mission you align with
A product & team you care about
Be honest with yourself. Money and passion don’t tend to exist at the same places. Similarly, money and senior titles can even be at odds too.
Big tech companies tend to pay the most - but be the most conservative with titles. You’ll likely have to prioritize one over the other.
Do the math. Write it down if you have to. Where does your needle point more: towards filling your wallet or scaling the hierarchical web?
And when you’re doing this, have a high bar. Remember: opportunity cost is what you’re leaving on the table.
What’s your blend? The concept to channel here is the Japanese one of Ikigai:
You’re looking for what’s at the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what you’ll get paid paid for, and what the world needs.
What you want to ask yourself is: what makes you feel more fulfilled when you tuck in for the night? Sure, the high-stakes Silicon Valley job might make you the talk of your college reunion, but what are you missing out on? Most likely - work-life balance. Keep that in the back of your mind.
Everybody mentions work-life balance. But let's get one thing straight—it’s not universal. What works for you might look like madness to someone else.
Are you okay trading late nights at the office for extra zeroes on your paycheck? Or maybe you're looking for something that allows you to clock out at five, no questions asked. Your version of balance is your own—own it.
Having a clear answer to these questions will help you find the job that is right for you, instead of any job.
We’ll help you use this high-level framing to narrow down the types of companies and roles that are a fit for you in the next section.
2. Target Account List
Now back to our sales lesson at the beginning.
Before you start applying to every job posting on LinkedIn that somewhat fits (external buying intent), it’s worth focusing on a target account list.
As Reddit will tell you: Blindly sending out resumes is like throwing darts in the dark. You might hit something, but likely not the bullseye.
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