Business TopicsCareerPrabhakar

Searching for a job?

by Prabhakar Gopalan

Tweet this: @PGopalan Searching for a job?  http://wp.me/pXBON-2gK #prodmgmt #jobadvice #jobsearch #careers

Are you in the market looking for a  job?  Is there a systematic approach to searching for a mid career job?  I have been fortunate in my career to have multiple job offers each time I looked for one and have been on both sides of the interview desk for PM and PMM positions in large and small organizations.  I’ll share my experiences and tips in three posts.  This is the first one.    In my next post I’ll cover interview skills.  In my third post on this topic I’ll cover how to interview candidates for a PM position (or how not to be a jerk).

Six things to consider when searching for a PM job (or for that matter any job):

1) Take time to reflect on your career and where you want to be next

Often times, especially if you are in between jobs or anxious to leave one, the tendency (and financial pressure) is to quickly find another job and then regret later on missed opportunities or an unhappy outcome.  A better approach is to actually take the time and reflect on what worked in your career so far, what you have learned from failures, and where you’d like to work on what next.  Once you spend the time to understand yourself better (imagine doing a SWOT analysis of your skills and experience) you’ll get a better idea on what will make you happy.  Take a self assessment test like StrengthsFinder.  You’ll be surprised at what you can actually be doing!  If you’ve been in that one company since you graduated from college and stuck in a career plateau, it is time to step out and make a difference.  Chances of making an impact in a 400,000 employee company  is a number very close to zero on the number line, more likely to the left. 🙂

2)  Make an employer target list

Instead of applying to every product management position advertised on Indeed or LinkedIn, spend time on what drives your success and which kind of company and organization culture would work for you. The Top 50 employers ranked by Forbes may not necessarily be your Top 50.  Write your criteria in one column, weights in another column, compare those with your potential employer target list.  Make your trade offs and realize why you are applying for a position in those companies.  It is so much better when you know why you are applying there versus just pressing the “upload resume” + “submit” buttons.

3) Let your network know that you are looking

If you are looking, don’t forget your network.  That is the best place to start.  Bonus points if you can communicate your target list in 2) or reach out to your friends/former colleagues who are already working in the companies you want to work for.  Take the time to explain what sort of a place and position you are looking for and why.  If you communicate your requirements adequately, your product is more likely to turn up like you wanted (isn’t that how product management works? j/k).

4) Build a search friendly presence on the web

This one bullet can take up many pages of elaboration.  The idea here is, if you have done things noteworthy, that you are proud of, post it on the web so it can be found.  Of course if it is a trade secret or a confidential piece of work, you don’t have much choice to display it, but you could at least talk about how your contribution changed a situation for better.

5) Invest in a resume writing service

Not many understand the importance of taking professional help in resume writing.  For a few hundred dollars you get invaluable professional help.  Make your resume stand out without the top 10 overused phrases if you can.

6) Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is 100% complete (yes, LinkedIn actually tells by how much percentage your profile is complete).

I’ll end this post with a 2×2 that can help you decide about your current job.  I vaguely remember seeing a matrix like this in a blog post by Chip Conley, the CEO of Joie de Vivre, but I’m not sure.  Which quadrant are you in?

–  Prabhakar

Tweet this: @PGopalan Searching for a job?  http://wp.me/pXBON-2gK #prodmgmt #jobadvice #jobsearch #careers