Career planning: the "future job description"

Throughout my time at Lyft, I was fortunate enough to have great mentors who supported my career growth and set me up with opportunities to learn a ton.

 

One of the exercises I would occasionally do with my managers is write up a fictional job description for my future self, projecting forward what sort of impact I hoped to have by when. The farther out a job description was, the lower fidelity it would be, and I’d update this every several months.

 

Below is an example job description that I wrote up for one of these sessions (Google Docs version). Keep in mind that this is what worked well for me (eg: based on medium-to-large sized companies; focusing on impact and output rather than achievements like titles) given what I care about, but might be different for you.

Other related writing:

  1. How I think about my high-level career goals

  2. Product Management Resources

  3. Product Frameworks I use

 

 

Job Descriptions for Hadar's future self

Last updated in MM/DD/YYYY

High-level context on how I think about my career

  1. I really enjoy the day-to-day work of PM (strategy, execution, growing/coaching teammates, org design, etc.), and am happily on that career path right now

  2. I’m concurrently developing a perspective on which societal problems I think are most important to solve that I also feel interested in and capable of contributing to solving, and what the best way to work on those problems is (socially-minded company versus gov’t versus non-profit, etc.)

  3. So long as I’m on my current path, I want to have as big of an impact as possible on the cause I’m currently focused on without compromising too much on enjoying time with my family/community and hobbies

Three months out

 

What is my role

  1. Still an independent contributor PM at Lyft, supporting two different teams concurrently

 

Day-to-day

  1. Developing product principles/strategy docs with both teams

  2. Developing roadmaps and per-project specs with both teams

  3. Collaborate with Product Marketing and User Research to develop perspective on what our Riders want

  4. Collaborate with Science on opportunity sizing and experimentation

  5. Collaborate with Eng/Design/Ops on execution; they co-own why/what/how alongside PM

  6. Meet with partner teams to align on cross-org strategy and execution

  7. Meet with all teammates regularly to share context, empower/get feedback, give recognition, mentor, unblock on execution, etc.

 

Output

  1. Set of principles, strategy, prioritization framework, and roadmap for both teams

    • Opportunity and cost sizing done for roadmap to inform prioritization

  2. {Big project for team} is shipped and team is working on next 1-2 {big projects}

  3. Alliances built across {partner teams}

    • Intimately familiar with their strategies and roadmaps

  4. Both teams are staffed with team culture / processes / etc. going well

  5. Supporting development of APM program, PM interviewing revamp, {other extra-curriculars}

  6. Actively mentoring several junior PMs

 

Mastered skills

  1. Strategy for two product areas (understanding spaces, goal-setting, roadmapping, prioritization, etc.)

  2. Identifying right problems (asking right analytics questions, working with science and user research)

  3. Execution (shipping products smoothly, identifying gaps in own/team’s execution, empowering/unblocking builders on team, analytics/experimentation, documentation)

    • Also communication of execution

  4. Building capacity across org (morale building, empowering and mentoring teammates, alliance building across partner teams, shared goals across cross-functional teams)

  5. Culture champion (supporting org-wide initiatives to improve culture and process across org)

 

Will be actively working on mastering

  1. Coming up with new ideas for product direction that leadership hasn’t thought of yet

  2. Building subject matter expertise across the broader business and specifically {area in company}

  3. Being an even more effective mentor

    • Helping mentees with accountability not just how to think about problems

 

Sorts of problems I want to be solving at this point in my career

  1. Strategy and execution for a specific product area at Lyft that meaningfully improves Drivers’ livelihood

  2. Learn about economics/marketplace dynamics: a subject that really interests me

  3. Helping junior PMs figure out their career aspirations and first steps to get there

 

What I would enjoy most about this role

  1. Coaching PMs and seeing them grow into their career goals

    • Same thing with ICs in other functions (eng, design, etc.)

  2. Strategy

  3. Continuing taking products from inception to completion

 

Twelve months out

 

What is my role

  1. Supporting small portfolio of products in {area of company} as product lead

 

Day-to-day

  1. Supporting 1-2 Direct reports, ensuring success in current role and growth toward career goals

    • Running team meetings where I help convey broader business context to team

  2. Hiring manager for my area; collaborating with recruiting et al

  3. Actively involved in reviewing and influencing product/strategy for partner teams

  4. Excel unconsciously at independent contributor stuff from previous scope on top of supporting direct reports

  5. Even deeper involvement in org-wide initiatives

 

Output

  1. Defining 1-2 PM roles for my team, supported end-to-end hiring, and have set of processes and best practices aimed at ensuring they are are set up for success and career growth

    • Learning from mentors how to hit the ground running as a great people manager

  2. Our teams are shipping {projects} with {impact}

  3. When necessary to better align areas on an impactful path forward, influencing strategy/roadmap of partner teams

  4. Serving as a subject matter expert on {product area I’m in} and how it impacts {other areas across company}

  5. Coming up with new ideas for product direction that leadership haven’t thought of yet

 

Mastered skills

  1. Stuff from previous “will be actively working on mastering” section

 

Will be actively working on mastering

  1. Strategy for a large-scale product group

  2. Writing vision/strategy/execution docs that are helpful to a large set of other PMs across company

  3. People management (coaching, advocating for reports, career planning, effective escalation point, accountability: catch their execution gaps and course-correct on strategy as needed)

 

Sorts of problems I want to be solving at this point in my career

  1. Drive a sizeable portfolio of bets that Lyft is making that’ll meaningfully improve Drivers’ livelihood

  2. Get deeper on economics/marketplace dynamics; augment Lyft’s understanding of the area

  3. Higher degree of focus on growing a team of PMs to achieve their career goals

 

What I would enjoy most about this role

  1. Spending more of my time on coaching/growing people around me

  2. Getting practice supporting an org

  3. Higher level strategy - more intellectually stimulating

 

 

Three years out

 

What is my role

  1. Supporting large portfolio of products in {area of company} as product lead

 

Day-to-day

  1. Supporting team of 5-7 product people and some first-line people managers

    • 1:1s with skips/reports; team meetings, product reviews; office hours; group-wide all hands; group leads meetings

  2. Org management

    • Performance management: ensuring folks across org (not just product) are doing well in current roles and set up to succeed toward their career goals

    • Hiring manager for my area: lots of time defining roles, hiring, selling, etc.

      • My product team but also adjacent roles with their functional leads

  3. Key stakeholders in determining many teams’ strategies across org

  4. Involved mentor outside of my immediate group

 

Output

  1. 5-7 people on my team are happy, productive, and impactful

  2. Successfully grown reports I’ve been supporting for a while into their career goals

  3. Defining group-level strategy for my area

  4. Active contributor to development of high-level org strategy with leadership across whole company

 

Mastered skills

  1. Stuff from previous “will be actively working on mastering” section

 

Will be actively working on mastering

  1. People management (coaching, advocating for reports, career planning, effective escalation point, accountability: catch their execution gaps and course-correct on strategy as needed)

  2. Development of high-level org strategy with leadership across whole company

 

Sorts of problems I want to be solving at this point in my career

  1. Drive a large portfolio of products furthering economic empowerment of the global working class

  2. Get deeper on economics/marketplace dynamics; augment the industry’s understanding of the area

  3. Growing a team of PMs to achieve their career goals; build a healthy org culture that promotes happy collaboration and learning among all team members

 

What I would enjoy most about this role

  1. Spending most of my time on coaching/growing people around me

  2. Supporting a sizeable org; creating a healthy and fun culture

  3. Higher level strategy - more intellectually stimulating

 

Five years out, Product (current path)

What is my role

  1. Supporting a large-scale product org

 

Day-to-day

  1. Org design (how to structure teams, where to put resources, what incentive structures should we implement for our teams, etc.)

  2. Org processes (when / how we meet as an org, playbooks / frameworks for teams that help keep whole org aligned, etc.)

  3. Mentoring product leads and other function leads across org

  4. Collaborating with leaders of other orgs across company to ensure everything fits together well

  5. Probably much more than I haven’t yet gotten to understand  :)

 

Output

  1. High functioning org where all teams are happy, productive, and impactful

 

Mastered skills

  1. Stuff from previous “will be actively working on mastering” section

 

Will be actively working on mastering

  1. Org-level strategy

  2. Org-level culture/process

  3. Being the most supportive mentor that I can be

 

Sorts of problems I want to be solving at this point in my career

  1. Lead an org of people to happily and perspicaciously drive forward {social impact}

 

What I would enjoy most about this role

  1. Spending most of my time on coaching/growing people around me

  2. Supporting a sizeable org; creating a healthy and fun culture

  3. Higher level strategy - more intellectually stimulating

 

Ten years out, Product (current path)

 

TL;DR

  1. Same role/scope as from five year goal. Still enjoying it, and I understand it better every day :)

  2. Plenty of time outside of work to be with my family/friends, play music, live a healthy lifestyle, and support social causes that I care about

© 2020 by Hadar Dor

  • RSS
  • LinkedIn