To Get Your Next Job, You Need To Know How Firms Hire Product Managers

by drjim on May 24, 2010

What Goes On AFTER You’re Done With The Interview?

What Goes On AFTER You’re Done With The Interview?

So what’s your job status? You either currently have a job (yea!) or you are looking for you next one (yea!) There is no shortage of job search advice out there on the Internet and otherwise. They’ve pretty much said all that there is to say about resumes, dressing nicely, researching the company, etc. How about if we talk about something different – how the company that you’ve applied to actually goes about filling their open positions?

Making The First Cut

Going for a job at a company is very much like trying to win a gold medal at the Olympics: many will try, but only one will win. Just imagine the job that the company that has the open is going to have to go through to sort out all of the applicants that they get for every open spot.

The first thing that you need to realize is that the first pass of work to weed out the clearly unqualified candidates will be done most likely by a team. This will be a bunch of employees / contractors who may not know much about the specific job, but who have been told what to look for in resumes and cover letters.

Product managers who want to get past this first cut need to include a cover letter. Your cover letter needs to contain two important pieces of information: you need to include words that talk about how you meet the key qualifications that were identified in the job posting and you need to include key words that have to do with this job.

Next Step: The Phone Interview

Whenever we apply for a job, time instantly becomes our enemy. If you become worried that your application for the job never got to the firm, then it is socially permissible to make a follow-up call to ask for confirmation after 5 days have passed.

You’ve probably heard this before, but the best way to get your next job is to connect with actual people instead of just submitting your resume to a firm. Candidates who come in via a recommendation from an employee or a trusted source often get to bypass the first round of applicant cuts.

Firms generally end up with a list of about 20 candidates or so that they’ll take to the next round: the phone interview. From the company’s perspective the phone interview has two missions: to make sure that you understand what the job is and to make sure that it lines up with your salary expectations.

However, there is another reason for a phone interview. It give the company a chance to evaluate your communication skills – are you a good talker, do you seem confidant?

Last Step: The Face-To-Face Interview & Selection

Every firm differs, but a good rule of thumb is that about 6 candidates are granted interviews for a given opening. Once all of the prospective candidates have completed their interviews, it’s time for the company to make a decision.

The actual hiring manager will meet with all of the people who participated in the interviews in order to get their recommendation for who should be hired. The key here is that they get only opinions, the final decision still rests in the hands of the hiring manager. This final selection is more often than not based on two criteria: how well your skills and experience fit the job and how much enthusiasm you showed during the interview process.

What All Of This Means For You

Interviewing for a new job is a numbers game: it’s you against the rest of the world. Knowing what goes on inside of the company that is doing the hiring can be your key to getting the job that you want.

A good cover letter will get you past the first round of cuts. However, you’re going to have to do well on the phone interview in order to get invited in for a face-to-face interview.

In the end, how much you’ve studied the firm and the job will determine your chances. Make sure that you let the interviewers know how excited you are about the challenges that come along with the job and you’ll be that much closer to being hired…

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

Question For You: Do you think that anyone still reads a cover letter for a resume today?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you were counting on getting a promotion this year, you might want to scale your hopes back just a bit. A lot of product managers are discovering that their career plans are having to be put on hold. Maybe we should spend some time talking about what you should do now…

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