What Does a Google Product Manager Do?

Updated on May 16th, 2021
What Does a Google Product Manager Do?

For a company to be as successful as Google tasks and roles have to be properly designed and executed every single day. As a result of well-map out strategic plans, Google is one of the world's most powerful companies providing a wide range of products and services from their search engine to Gmail and Google Docs.

For that reason, it can be difficult to figure out what a typical day in the life of a Google product manager would look like. That is why we will break down the roles and responsibilities of this type of professional so that you know exactly what they do, as well what can you do to become one.

Let's get started.

What is a Google Product Manager?

The evolution of product management has come a long way since its suggested creation by Neil H. McElroy back in 1931 while he was working at Procter & Gamble. Since then the product manager job position has become an essential part of tech companies ever-growing strategic plans.

It is estimated that just between 2007 and 2018 Google went from hiring 800 to 5,000 PMs with yearly hiring rate of 500 to 800 new job positions, so you can imagine how important this role is.

That being said, what is their job? A Google product manager is a type of professional who works with various teams to ensure that all products and services are being created in the most efficient way possible.

They work as part of one or many teams and can be focused on just one Google product (e.g Google Cloud) or on several. As well depends on their level within the business, they need to know what everyone does so that they can find ways for those departments to work together efficiently.

What Does a Google Product Manager Do? Roles and Duties

A Google PM translates customer needs into features for projects which will create long-term value for customers, thus they need to have product vision, and product strategy. They also maintain relationships with stakeholders inside and outside of the company by researching industry trends, attending conferences, and writing proposals.

A product manager report directly to their executive management at Google (usually the senior vice president or higher) and will carry out their duties as assigned by them.

They typically have three main responsibilities: analyzing market opportunities, overseeing user experience/interface design, and leading cross-functional teams in development efforts.

Listed below we break down its roles and duties:

  • Ensure that the product is meeting customer needs.
  • Work with engineering and other departments to get what they need in order to deliver a successful product,
  • Attend brainstorming sessions for new products or features being created by Google engineers, designers, marketing strategists, etc.
  • Manage projects from beginning to end - define goals, scope out deadlines and help teams work collaboratively on their project together.

The Google PM will take information put forth by others into account when making decisions about these various aspects of a project.

They are responsible for taking input from colleagues while collaborating internally with engineers and marketers as well as externally through customer surveys and focus groups.

  • In this role, you are expected to be involved in many aspects of the design process including brainstorming, ideating, writing user stories then refining them with product managers from other teams who will work on implementing those features.

Google Product Managers may also be called upon to help consolidate feedback about their project by presenting it at company-wide meetings or conferences which require public speaking skills.

Day-to-day tasks of Product Managers

First thing is to answer emails and messages - a lot of them.

For some, it could be a lot but a typical working day for a product manager at Google include checking on the latest product metrics, Google search results, check user data, meeting with the team and stakeholders.

It involves a lot of prioritizing tasks for the day based on what's most important to get done first.

  • A Google PM never forgets to congratulate the team for achieving daily milestones!

If there is a new Google product launch, legal meetings and usability tests are in order for example. They may also be in charge of communicating feedback from their users or customers back to the product teams so that these insights can inform future decisions about how a business develops new features.

Did we mention answering a lot of emails and messages?

What Skills Must a Google Product Manager Have?

First of all, as part of the Google staff you to have a passion for Google Products. Google product strategists should be passionate about what they do because it will show in the content of their work.

For example, if a PM is not into YouTube as much as another colleague who's also interviewing with Google, then that person would have to convince hiring managers why they are more qualified than someone else.

To successfully fulfill the role as a product manager at Google both technical and interpersonal skills are required. Let's take a look at them:

Teamwork

  • Product management works with other colleagues on various areas of the design process including brainstorming and ideating.

Communication

  • You must be able to communicate your ideas internally through presentations or externally during customer surveys and focus groups.

Critical Thinking Skills

  • These skills are important for keeping an open mind when implementing features in order to avoid bias while prioritizing user needs that can include qualitative feedback from interviews as well as quantitative data results from tests.

Leadership Skills

  • Leadership skills are required for managing projects which may involve multiple teams working across different departments such as engineering, marketing, partnerships, etc. This includes developing goals, assigning tasks, and providing status updates on progress back to management.

Google Product Manager Technical Skills

Great product managers have technical expertise in object-oriented programming including:

  • Java and C++; proficiency in SQL queries via MySQL or similar database technologies (not Microsoft Access); understanding of HTML/CSS coding standards for web pages; knowledge of browser compatibility issues when designing websites are highly required.

As well the computer skills required to do the job include:

  • Proficiency with SQL queries via MySQL or similar database technologies (not Microsoft Access), knowledge of Internet Search Engine Optimization techniques, understanding of how Google’s Search Quality team works, familiarity with a wide range of software applications including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator; experience using Mac OS X operating system, etc.

How to become a Google Product Manager?

To have a successful product management role at Google, you will need to have an extensive background in technology as well as marketing skills including PM bootcamps or product management certification courses.

Also, you need to meet some product management education requirements. That is to say, a relevant bachelor's degree from a top university in computer science, marketing, or another relevant field. In addition, it helps if you speak one language fluently - either Dutch (Netherlands), English (U.S.), Spanish (Latin America) Portuguese (Brazilian).

You need at least five years of technical background like software development experience, with some managerial level responsibility in these areas: project management or customer-facing roles related to managing requirements, design documentation, implementation plans.

How much does a Google Product Manager get paid?

It varies depending on location, experience, and other factors.

The average salary of this job position is about US $156,354K annually. However, this varies based on which country and source you're looking at.

For example, the median annual wage as reported by Payscale is approximately $198,742 USD annually.

This figure also includes bonuses that vary significantly from company to company but can range upwards of 100%. This means an annual income after taxes may be even higher.

Is it Hard to Get a Job as Google Product Manager?

The demand for qualified candidates is so high, that it can be hard to get the experience in order to even land an interview.

However, it is not impossible. So, if you're looking this position as a career path we recommend getting your foot in the door by taking any job related to product management and working your way up through each level of responsibility until you make it into Google Product Management.

As well you can pursue one of several programs designed specifically for college students or recent grads with small amounts of work experience, such as: Internship Experience Program (IEP), Associate Product Manager Track (APMT).

And of course, once you get an interview you are in for a 4-8 weeks interview process. All the Google product manager interviews are very structured, and in each one you will be thoroughly evaluated.

  • First, you will have a phone interview that will not include any technical questions, and is just designed to get an idea of how you think about problems in general as well as your communication skills.

If you made it to the next round:

  • You will be invited for full day visit at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley (or another location like Google Mountain View headquarters in San Francisco). Here, you will discuss project ideas with engineers and answer "the" tough questions that are more challenging than those asked during the phone interviews.

Final thoughts

This position can seem like a dream job, but it requires and demands a high level of responsibility and commitment, so before applying you should ask yourself if you are willing to spend a lot of hours thinking, scheming, and creating new ideas and plans.

As Google Product Manager you are a leader and a manager, so it will be expected from you to guide your team into setting goals and make sure they are achieved within a timeframe.

Are you up for the challenge?