How to Get a Product Management Job in Health and Fitness Industries
The health, wellness, and fitness industries had been steadily growing before the recent boom. In a time when health issues dominate newsrooms and Facebook feeds, it’s no wonder that these industries have experienced such rapid growth. For example, the global health and wellness industry reached a value of US$3.31bn in 2020. And in eCommerce, the global athleisure market is predicted to reach a value of $517.5bn by 2025 (up from $300bn in 2018).
People are craving products that will help them achieve their ideal healthy lifestyle. It could be a healthy recipe app that helps a diabetic person to manage their disorder. Or maybe it’s a fitness tracker that helps take an athlete to the next level. Or a better data management system for medical professionals.
There’s a whole world of tech that serves this booming corner of the market. So if you’re looking to land a job that’ll make your users happier and healthier, this is the guide for you.
Do You Need Special Training to Work as a Product Manager in Healthcare/Fitness/Wellness?
The main question on your mind could be that you don’t have any formal training in medical fields.
If you happen to already have medical/fitness industry training or experience, that’ll certainly give you an advantage as a candidate. It’ll help you to empathize with the users you’ll be building for, and it’ll show that you’re already dedicated to working in that space.
While it’s always good to be able to come from a place of experience, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree in sports science to work for Nike, and you don’t need to be a doctor to work for a medical startup. Because you’re not being hired to be a medical professional. You’re being hired to be a product manager.
The best training you can get for a PM role, is of course PM training. What you lack in formal healthcare knowledge you can absolutely make up for with certified PM skills. The magic of working as a product manager lies in being able to work across any industry or discipline, without needing to constantly re-train.
Which Health and Fitness Companies Hire Product Managers?
Medical Companies/Startups: Johnson & Johnson, Flatiron Health, HealthBridge
Working in a medical company/startup could be the most challenging, inspiring, and uplifting step in your career.
Medical companies that ship digital products to their customers still need product managers, just like any other software company. For example, a PM at Johnson & Johnson could be working for any number of companies, tackling some of the world’s most devastating diseases.
If you’re looking at the startup world, the good news is that there are plenty of startups to choose from, especially thanks to 2020. The bad news is that there aren’t as many product positions to choose from. It’s not like wanting a job at Google or Amazon, where there’s a steady stream of open product positions coming and going.
To work in this field, you won’t need medical training, but you will need a few years of product management experience, as well as a higher level of technical knowledge. This would be a great opportunity for those who have previously worked as engineers or Technical PMs, rather than those looking to get into product for the first time.
A lot of the top healthcare companies are driven by AI, so PMs with experience with machine learning will have the advantage here.
Wearables: Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin
Wearable devices landed with a bang and it’s here to stay! It’s a competitive market, with a few dominant big names and some scrappy startups bringing new innovations. In 2020, an estimated 21% of all Americans wore smart watches, so the potential impact your work could have is pretty impressive!
Wearables are rapidly growing in both popularity and scope, and do so much more than just tracking physical activity. Smartwatches in particular have many undiscovered and innovative uses. You could be part of the next big industry trend.
The tech might be unique, but as a digital product manager you’ll be expected to work cross-functionally with engineering, marketing, and design. You don’t need to understand exactly how a heart rate monitor works, you just need to be able to ask the right questions.
Confused? Check out: Webinar: How to Work with Engineers as PM by fmr Google Product Lead, Israel Shalom
Fitness and Diet Trackers: Strava, MyFitnessPal, Lifesum
Sometimes you just want everything in one place. Apps that track various aspects of a healthy lifestyle all in one are a staple of every fitness fanatic’s tech stack. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of seeing calories in and calories out that people want, or maybe they’re athletes looking to keep an eye on their macronutrients.
Trackers and also help people monitor their heart rate, sleep cycles, menstrual cycles, and much more. Helping to give millions of people a birds-eye-view of their overall health is a mission worthy of any product manager.
Fitness Trainers: Nike Run Club, Peloton, Alo Moves
Who among us in 2020 didn’t dabble with at-home workouts?
Gyms and fitness classes are a luxury that not everyone can afford, whether that be because of the cost or the time it takes to get to a physical location. There are also those who are only just beginning their fitness journeys, who feel too self-conscious to work out in front of other people.
Apps such as NRC, Peloton, Alo Moves, Down Dog, and Apple Fitness+, help to put fitness into people’s hands on their own terms.
These global products will require product managers who can specialize in everything from localization to AI. It’s a competitive market, with fierce brand loyalty and beloved ecosystems. And your customers will be everyone from professional athletes getting Olympics-ready, to someone wanting to run their first 5K.
You don’t need a sports degree or Olympic medals to break into this arena, but a job in this field is best suited to someone with an interest in sports/fitness, and who cares about democratizing exercise and bringing it to millions of users.
You might also be interested in: Tactical Agile Executions by Nike Principal Product Manager
Mental Health Apps: Headspace, Talkspace, Better Help
Counselling, meditation, and mindfulness apps help to break down the barriers between people and better mental health. Everyone deserves access to the help they need, but time and resources are often major gatekeepers.
Apps like Headspace allow people to introduce meditation to their daily life, and counselling apps with Better Help put people in touch with mental health professionals who might otherwise be out of reach for them.
The changes made to your customer’s mental wellbeing, both little and large, can have a positive ripple effect on their lives that you can’t even imagine.
eCommerce: The Honest Company, Thrive Market, Gymshark
There are simply too many eCommerce companies in the health and wellness space to list! As a product manager in this area, you’re helping people to get their hands on the real-life products that make their lives healthier and easier, and perhaps more sustainable.
The fashion conscious among you might want to get into athletic wear (which, as we all know, became the uniform in 2020!). Or perhaps you want to get into vitamins and supplements, or healthy meal delivery services.
How Can I Stand Out From The Crowd as an Applicant?
We’ve mentioned already that having previous experience in your chosen field will be a great advantage to you. But not having that isn’t a deal breaker, and there are plenty of things you can do to boost your profile and catch the eyes of recruiters.
Instead of focusing on the subject matter, focus on the skills. When making your application, pick through the job description you’re applying for and identify the main skills that they’re asking for. Then use your cover letter and resume to demonstrate times that you used those skills.
Particularly if you’re applying for large medical corporations, a data-driven resume will help to show that you know what you’re doing and you’ve got the numbers to back it up. So talk about the metrics you actively improved at a PM in your previous projects.
If there’s something within this space that you’re particularly passionate about, be it democratizing fitness or making mental health more accessible, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Use your online personal brand (everyone on LinkedIn has one, like it or not) and help prove to these companies that you’re passionate about their cause.
It’s not about fabricating fake enthusiasm to land a job, it’s about letting your genuine passion be known to the world…and your potential employers!
Resources for Landing (and Acing) Product Management Interviews
While each company and industry has its preferences for who they look for in candidates, the skills for landing and acing product management interviews are largely the same. So time to study up!
First of all, make sure you’ve prepared to answer the most common PM interview questions. To really get prepared for the interview, dig deep into those questions and understand why your interviewer is asking them. And don’t forget that the questions you ask in the interview are just as revealing as the answers you give. So prepare some great questions to ask at the end of your interview.
It’s rare, but not uncommon, for PMs gunning for more technical roles to go through coding interviews. If you get invited to this type of interview, it’s critical to be prepared for it, so read up on coding interviews right here.
Finally, we’ve got a whole YouTube playlist full of talks from product leaders on how to master the PM interview. Literally hours of advice! Check that out right here, and try this great talk out for starters:
I’m Carlos González, CEO at Product School, and I enjoy sharing weekly tips for Product leaders!
This article was also published on The Product Management Blog.