2019 Digital Skills Survey
Product Survey Results

The role of Product Manager has gained a lot of popularity in the past several years. Now listed as one of the most promising jobs by LinkedIn, Product Manager roles have seen a 30 percent growth in job openings year over year.

The responses from the product field indicate that professionals have come from a range of different backgrounds to work at the forefront of digital product development.

Product Work Experience

88 percent of respondents working in product started their careers in a different field, which was the most of any other discipline. This is unsurprising, as there is not one single path to becoming a Product Manager. In fact, Product Managers tend to come from diverse professional backgrounds.

Did you begin your career in a Product role?

Additionally, over 80 percent of product respondents are working in an intermediate or higher position level. This could be because most product respondents have ample professional experience before moving into the product field, and therefore don't always start in an entry-level position.

Small teams are the reality for the majority of Product Managers, with 62 percent of respondents working on teams of 10 or fewer. Professionals working in product spend most of their time developing requirements and specifications or participating in team and client collaboration.

What function of your job takes up the most time?

If we break this down by seniority, junior employees are more likely to list team and client collaboration or research as their most frequent activity, while more senior employees focus on developing requirements or product ideation.

Digital Skills and Tools

As the vast majority of respondents started their careers in a field other than product, it makes sense that the most important skills for Product Managers are soft skills, which are transferable across industries. Respondents chose communication, leadership, and empathy above research, project management, brainstorming, and design as the most important skills a Product Manager can have.

Which skills are most important for a Product Manager?

This may indicate that the technical skills required to succeed in product management can be learned through training or on the job, while effective interpersonal skills are often harder to develop. In terms of digital skills, data gets cited nearly twice as often as others when it comes to the most important secondary skill for a Product Manager.

Looking at the tools Product Managers are using, traditional, hands-on methods are still the favorite for brainstorming and ideation. Whiteboarding is the most popular, with 67 percent of respondents stating that they use it as a method for ideation, followed by pen and paper, at 53 percent.

Which tools do you use for brainstorming and ideation?

Email and Slack dominate as the most popular tools for team communication amongst product professionals, while Jira, Confluence, and Trello are the top three tools for project management.

Professional Development

Most product professionals have participated in multiple types of professional learning opportunities. The most common forms of learning for those working in product are workshops, seminars, and conferences; online courses; and in-person courses.

Which of these learning opportunities have you participated in?

When we break down these learning opportunities by seniority, it's clear that in-person courses are most popular for entry-level product respondents, while workshops and seminars are the learning method of choice for management.

Product professionals use a diverse range of resources to learn new product management techniques or gain ideas. The top five types of resources were: colleagues; blogs; digital skills training and courses; books; and workplace lectures.