Tips and Tricks from Product Makers: How to Navigate the Product Job Market
Ways to stand out in a crowded job market, from James Jordan
Macroeconomic conditions are still turbulent, and that has naturally led to people questioning how feasible it currently is to find a new job. And for Product Managers especially, where it’s common to be referred to new positions, applying for jobs might feel extra daunting.
James Jordan, the founder of US-based product recruitment company Producto, joined a Product Makers community event to chat about navigating the product job market and stand out among other applicants.
Watch the recording of the fireside chat with James for the full conversation, or keep reading for the top takeaways.
The current state of the product job market
Before jumping in to applying for a new job, it’s a good idea to get the lay of the land. James explains that he’s seen companies still recruiting, but many of them are focusing on individual contributors over product leadership roles. Salaries are another key consideration, as they’re trending downward — around 10-15% lower than last year.
When it comes to remote work, many companies are still favoring a fully distributed model, with a smaller percentage shifting toward a hybrid work approach. The only wrinkle is that companies do tend to favor candidates in the same time zone as their HQ, but that’s more of a nice-to-have than a requirement.
As for the companies offering lower salaries or requiring people to come in to the office, James warns that these may be short-sighted changes. Once the market picks back up, these companies may run into trouble with retention if the employees can find better compensation and perks elsewhere. These are factors to keep in mind as well as you weigh your options — do you see long-term potential with the organization?
Giving yourself a competitive edge
To help yourself stand out among all the other job applicants, James recommends starting by putting on your “Product Management” hat. Get feedback on what hiring managers are looking for — try speaking to other recruiters (whether in-house or external) to see what they liked or didn’t like about your resume or LinkedIn profile.
As a product person, you should know the power of feedback. Put the time and effort into creating a good resume and a built-out LinkedIn profile based on these insights. And don’t let LinkedIn just be a static resume — learn how to market yourself on the platform. Have some thoughts into trending topics? Or maybe you stumbled upon an especially interesting article? Share these on your profile to show that you’re on top of the latest and greatest in product management.
Be sure to also join other communities to put yourself out there. These could be product-focused LinkedIn groups, Slack channels, online forums, etc. — tap into these resources to get helpful advice and expand your network.
And ultimately, you should really reflect on the value you can bring to an organization. What specifically are you able to bring to the table? That should help you determine whether the job is even worth applying to in the first place.
Above all, don’t undermine your own value
That last point leads to one of James big no-nos as you apply: diluting your value. One of the big mistakes many job seekers make is to say something along the lines of, “I’ll be open to anything.” This could mean becoming too generalized in your focus or even taking on the type of work you haven’t done in years.
Of course, tough financial situations can make getting any job the top priority, but you do want to keep in mind if compromising your value will make you less of a match for the position. In the long run, all that’ll do is lead to frustration and a new job hunt.
Remember: Product is often a small total headcount in many organizations. If possible, focus on finding the right position for you. It’ll likely take more time and effort, but it’ll end up being more impactful and meaningful for both you and the company.
Reach the next stop on your product journey
The current economic climate doesn’t make job hunting a fun task, but try following James’ advice to help you land that next amazing Product Management position. Check out the full recording for even more insights, and join us in the Productboard Product Makers community to stay on top of what’s next in product management.