How To Really Screw Up Your Next Product Manager Job Search

by drjim on May 10, 2010

Could You Be Damaging Your Job Prospects And Not Even Know It?

Could You Be Damaging Your Job Prospects And Not Even Know It?

Product managers may be very good at managing a product and making it a success in the marketplace; however, all too often we do a really bad job of looking for our next job. I’m not talking about poorly formatted resumes or even answering questions incorrectly during a job interview. My point is that it’s all the other actions that we take during a job search that really end up shooting ourselves in the foot. Still confused? Maybe I should explain myself…

The Problem With Black Lists

When you are in the middle of a job search, it’s pretty easy to start to think about the firms that you are trying to get an interview with as being these big, impersonal “things” . In reality, you are really dealing with a small group of people that can include recruiters and members of the company’s HR staff.

Working as a product manager has conditioned all of us to view the world in pretty narrow terms: things either work or they don’t. We have a bad habit of bringing this view to our job search. This is what can get us into hot water.

It turns out that all of the people involved in the hiring process, recruiters, HR staff, etc. all talk to each other. When we tick them off, they’ll put our name on their personal “blacklist” and then life just got a lot harder. This is something that we tend to forget.

Reasons That We Screw Up

When we think that we’re being clever and trying to get a job interview with a company by going in through the front door (job postings on their web site) and the back door (with a recruiter) at the same time, we end up making everyone mad at us.

Recruiters don’t like it when you’ve gone direct because they don’t make any money if they place you and the company already knew about you. HR staff don’t like having your name show up multiple times for the same position. What can happen very quickly is that your name gets place on a “blacklist” .

Once your name is on the unofficial black list, you’ll find that recruiters won’t return your calls (they talk to each other also) and the company won’t acknowledge your emails.

How To Fix Problems That You’ve Made

Getting off of a black list once you’ve landed there is very difficult. First off, you need to understand that it’s going to take time to get off of the list. It took time to get on the list, it’s only fair that it should take time to get off of it.

Your first action should be to stop doing whatever got you blacklisted in the first place. Just because you soured your relationship with one recruiter doesn’t mean that you have to compound the problem with other recruiters.

Next, you need to find ways to be a giver, not a taker with the recruiter / HR staff that you’ve offended. This doesn’t mean sending them gifts – those look fake anyway. Instead, you should look for ways to make their jobs easier. One way would be to send them highly qualified candidates for their open positions (no – you can’t recommend yourself). Also, acting as a good reference for someone that they are considering can also win you points.

Things You Should Never Do

We are living in the 21st Century and that means that the number of ways that you can hurt your job search efforts have multiplied. Here’s a quick list of other things that you should never do:

  • Don’t post anything on Facebook or MySpace that you wouldn’t want your mother to read / see.
  • Don’t bend the truth in your resume.
  • Don’t spam the world with your resume.
  • Don’t submit the same cover letter for multiple positions in the same company.
  • Don’t send your resume to multiple recruiters and HR hiring managers at the same company.
  • Don’t apply for jobs for which you don’t even meet the basic requirements.
  • Don’t send your resume to the same recruiters over, and over, and over again.

What All Of This Means For You

Looking for your next job has always been a challenge. In today’s online hyper-connected world, some things have become easier while others have become much more difficult.

It’s all to easy to become too eager when looking for your next product management job. If you work with too many people or send your resume out too far and wide then you risk being black listed by recruiters and hiring managers.

Keep your job search focused and stay honest with what you tell people about yourself. You will find that next job but only if you treat the people who will help you to find it with respect.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Help

Question For You: Do you think that you should apply directly for jobs even when you are working with a recruiter?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Are you looking for love product manager? Even if you aren’t, there appear to be plenty of other folks out there who are and this has created a booming business in the Internet-based dating service business. Now if you think that your product management job is difficult and confusing, just imagine if you were trying to manage and market a product that promised to not just make your customer’s lives better, but to also help them find the love of their life…

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