Do Product Managers need a Portfolio?

Product Manager Portfolio

It’s almost funny how much focus the specifics of individual projects get during the hiring process of a designer. A CV on the other side is not much more than a necessity to check for some known names.
And in the end, everything boils down to their portfolios. It’s, on the one hand, the perfect place for the designer to put some love into the representation of the work one has done. On the contrary, it’s ‘perfect’ for judging the capabilities of a person based on pixels.

The situation is then often, that most design portfolios look pretty, but completely lack context or outcome of a project. And because everybody (involved in the hiring process) of course has a (strong) opinion on design, the portfolio gets judged subjectively as shit.

That’s a real problem as at least I favor an approach to the application process which removes subjectivity and focusses on outcomes (read this book for more input on this topic). So, if portfolios, in general, are already an established part of the hiring process for designers, shouldn’t a more outcome-oriented version of the portfolio play a significant role in a Product Manager’s application process as well?

To me, the answer is yes. At least, if you’re beyond the junior job level and have a couple more projects to talk about under your belt.

Way more important than the actual medium you’ll use to showcase your work (since there’s no Behance for Product Managers yet) is the real content to put in.
As a Product Manager, your success is often measured by the numbers/impact your product has generated. It’s a bit unfair to say, but while designers can hide behind beautiful pixels and bouncy animations, you need to come up with the naked truth and objective facts.



That’s probably the main differentiator when compared to the current state of design portfolios being part of the hiring process. As outcomes should be a part of a Product Manager portfolio, you won’t hear that many ‘opinions’ on that part. And it’s certainly not a matter of taste on how to judge it.

While I currently don’t maintain a product portfolio myself, I made a weak attempt back in 2014 on my personal website. If you’re looking for a better example, I highly recommend the way my fellow product superwoman Petra Wille is presenting her work (German only).

So, when you’re assembling your product portfolio as a continuous representation of yourself or for a particular application process, I recommend something loosely following this structure:

  • What was the objective of the project/product?
  • Which stakeholder environment did you face?
  • How did you structure the discovery and delivery process?
  • Building up on that: Which frameworks & tools did you chose to apply and why? Would you pick those again (for the same context)?
  • What was the measurable outcome?
  • In hindsight, what was your biggest personal learning from the project?

Some additional thoughts on the criteria of a Product Manager’s portfolio are included in this neat article by Sachin Rekhi.

If you’re interested in developing a template for Product Manager portfolios, just say hi to me, and we get the conversation going. I’d love to see something like this happen and spread across the community.