Far and away the most common question I get is:
- How do you find a product job?
Before we tackle answering this question, let’s look at what most of us do when we try to find a job. We start by working on our resume. We list out all the places that we’ve worked, we outline our activities, and if we are somewhat sophisticated we include our key accomplishments.
We highlight that we love being the voice of our customer, the CEO of our product, and a jack-of-all-trades. We call out the virtues of user-centered-design, describe our duties as Agile product owners, and we sing the praises of being Lean. And with our shiny new resumes, we move on to the next step.
We start applying for jobs. And again for the more sophisticated in the crowd, we might also send our resume to friends and family. We might even get some positive feedback.
It feels like we are on the right track. A job must be just right around the corner. And then what happens?
That’s right. For the vast majority of us, even if we have a stellar background, amazing accomplishments, and a can-do attitude, this process simply doesn’t work.
So stop doing it.
I mean it. Stop looking at job boards. Stop rearranging bullets on your resume. Stop being the 412th person to apply to a job posting. It’s a waste of time.
As a product professional (even an aspiring one), there’s a better way.
What if you started thinking about yourself as a product?
Read that again. I’ll wait. You need to start thinking about yourself as if you were a product.
What does that mean? Well, let’s review, what do product managers do?
We identify a market, we learn as much as we can about our customers, particularly their pain points, we compare those needs with our company’s core competencies, and we develop solutions to meet those needs. In doing so, we pay special attention to competitors so that we can ensure that our solutions are differentiated and competitive.
Yes, of course you already know all that. But what does it have to do with finding a job?
It has everything to do with finding a job.
You need to use this same approach when looking for a job.
Remember, in this case, you are the product. Rather than blindly sending your resume around, hoping to find product-market fit, instead start by identifying your market. Just as we don’t build products for anyone and everyone, don’t apply to any and every job. The first step is to identify a group of companies where you’ll have the best chance of product-market fit, where you can be of most value.
From there, do your research. Learn as much as you can about your customer (your target companies) and their pain points (why do they need you?). And then work on the ideal solution – you! How can you best position yourself to be the solution they need?
See, finding a product job is just like designing a product.
In the next few posts, we’ll walk through each step of the process. Next up, you’ll start by identifying your market. Don’t miss it. Subscribe now to get notified when the next post is live.
John Peltier says
Interesting post – I gave a talk about this at the first B2BCamp in Atlanta. Applying product spidey-sense to the job market only makes sense. I also consider blogs and other social tools to be inbound marketing applied to you, the product.
Teresa Torres says
John, I really like that post. I have definitely formed positive impressions of many product folks that I’ve never met because of their blogs. It’s a great way to get to know people before you need to hire.