We’re In A Product Candidate’s Job Market

Every CPO/VP Product I talk with is in a battle for product talent. It’s even harder than normal to find and hire product managers (or first-line product directors) with relevant experience. So I’d call this a “candidate job market” rather than a “hiring company” job market. As of today, LinkedIn shows more than 234,000 posted “product manager” jobs in the US.

There are likely many reasons:

  • For the next few nanoseconds, tech product management is hotter than blockchain or machine learning or rumors about Federal indictments. Every newly minted MBA wants to be one.

It may be a good time to break into product management, especially via internal transfers to product groups that have been short-handed for a long time.

But this post focuses on experienced individual contributors and first-line product directors who may be in the market. The reverse side of CPO/VP desperation is that you have more options than in 2019 (or perhaps in 2023). This is an opportunity to land somewhere that meets your own needs better, help you learn/grow, and feel good about the hard work you do every day.

So even though it’s against the interest of the CPOs I coach, here are some random DO’s and DON’Ts from the candidate’s point of view.

Do…

  • Do think about what you want — rather than just what some job posting or company offers. Should your next adventure to be at a much smaller company (more influence, equity, closer to the CEO) or much larger (stability, more mentors, internal opportunities)? B2B, B2C, B2B2C, B2G or C2C? Software, hardware, services, or a hybrid? Products or markets that you care about? Geography? (Although we’ll mostly be remote for another year, some companies will revert back to on-site and others will stay fully remote.) Start with a hypothesis before you’re smitten by an opportunity.

Don’t…

  • Don’t forget that recruiting is partly a sales process. When managers and staffing teams are trying to convince you to join, they put the best face on their companies, tell the most upbeat stories, write glowing job descriptions, and try to deflect issues. Be as skeptical about potential employers as you are about internal stakeholders telling you they’ve already designed your ideal solution.
  • Don’t quit your current gig — if it’s tolerable — before you’ve lined up the next one. Otherwise, you’ll create tremendous personal/social/financial pressure on yourself to take the very first thing that comes along. (But don’t stay if there are strong reasons to quit: financial irregularities, abusive management, toxic politics.)

Sound Byte

In the current talent market, experienced product managers have a wide choice of companies, products, cultures, markets, and remote/onsite working arrangements. So think about what you want out of the next gig rather than depending on the perfect hiring manager to find you first.

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Originally posted to https://www.mironov.com/candidate/

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Rich Mironov

Tech start-up veteran, smokejumper CPO/product management VP, writer, coach for product leaders, analogy wrangler, product camp founder.