Product recruitment is notoriously competitive. Unfortunately, this often results in businesses panic hiring to fill roles as quickly as possible, thinking that this is the way to beat their competitors. However, whilst this might help you rapidly expand your Product team, it doesn’t necessarily improve product delivery or quality. It’s more important to hire the right Product person than to hire multiple people quickly, who aren’t quite suitable.
Based upon my own Product recruitment experience, and emerging trends I am seeing in the market here is a guide on how to hire exceptional Product talent for your business.
Having a great product team made up of the right people can help you deliver relevant and high-quality products that solve customer issues at a faster rate through effective communication, collaboration, creativity, and better roadblock and issue management.
The wrong hire can cause issues and threaten the efficiency of your product processes, as well as your reputation as an employer. Some of the biggest problems caused by a mis-hire include financial losses, and damage to team morale, productivity, customer churn, and delivery time. In a company with product at its centre, this damage would be felt throughout the whole company and would have a huge knock-on effect through all departments, as well as damaging employer brand and company reputation.
When panic-hiring, businesses can often cut corners in their recruitment processes, resulting in a poor hire. As demonstrated above, this can be disastrous for a number of reasons. Additionally, though, panic hiring in a competitive market can also have a knock-on effect on candidate power. Candidates know they can request higher salaries and better benefit packages because companies are willing to pay more to secure candidates.
What does this mean? Well, recently I have seen evidence of basic salaries jumping by £15,000 - £20,000 just to hire talent as businesses benchmark their product salaries higher than ever before, especially in larger organisations. For example, a year ago, a traditional Product Owner with 3 years-experience would receive an average salary of £45,000 - £50,000; now they expect nothing less than £60,000 - £65,000. Unfortunately, this means that small to medium businesses are struggling to hire the right talent, because they are constantly being outpriced by bigger companies who have the financial ability to invest as much money as they want in talent. This will have long-lasting effects on their projects and business goals as they struggle to hire product talent to push the required deadlines through. In response to this, companies may end up hiring the wrong people culturally, just to push these projects through, which has long term detrimental effects.
As you can see, this starts an endless cycle, to which nobody really comes out the winner.
Businesses will either end up paying a premium for less experienced talent, and it’s not all good news for candidates either.
If the market settles down, for candidates who are looking to move roles, there will be a much higher responsibility and level of accountability for experience you may not have but is expected at higher salaries. This means you may struggle to move roles in the future as you may not have the skills or experience necessary or will at least be looking at a significant pay decrease. This will halt progression and likely slow down professional development. We may even start seeing a trend of people taking a step backwards.
We all know that a poor hire is bad for business. So how exactly do you find and hire the top Product talent your business needs? The first thing you need to do is to ask yourself what is most important to you? Is it more important to hire the right person, or to hire someone quickly? If you value your product, the priority should definitely be to hire the right person, so here are some steps you can take to do just that.
Use a range of talent sources aside from the obvious methods. Proactive applicants are great, but have you first looked internally first? Is there a suitable employee internally who can step up or who would like the opportunity to try something new? This can be great for your employee morale, progression, and will save you the cost and time of hiring externally.
Additionally, have you considered hiring at a junior level with the intention of training them up? Naturally, this isn’t necessarily appropriate if you have a project that needs delivery urgently and you require a senior hire immediately, but for long-term goals, this could be a great way to fill a role quicker and at a lower cost.
It’s helpful also to question how important factors such as degrees and certification is to the role. By solely searching for someone with formal education, you may be excluding people who are a great fit for the role. Revisit your job specification and really evaluate what is required, desired, and beneficial to the role, and what you don’t really need.
Having a great candidate journey is imperative to attracting and engaging candidates throughout the hiring process. It’s important that you show consideration for your candidates throughout the process. This might involve removing additional interview stages and instead, keeping it to 2 interviews, or an interview and a presentation. This means you are not expecting all candidates, most of whom won’t get the final job offer, to travel each time, find and/or pay for childcare provisions repeatedly, and take time off work.
Shorter more structured interview processes are more effective in gathering information about a candidate and also shows consideration for the candidates.
An interview isn’t all about the candidate selling themselves, you must sell yourself as a great place to work. This is especially important in a candidate short market, where job seekers have their pick of employers. Be ready to be honest about the role, benefits package, and any additional perks, as well as progression opportunities and training. An interview isn’t just about screening candidates for suitability, it’s a candidate’s opportunity to decide if your business is a good fit for them, so be prepared to sell yourself!
Great product teams are made up of great product people, and to have a high-performing product team you need the best. Hiring for Product in 2022 is likely to continue to get more and more competitive so it’s increasingly important to stand out and differentiate from your competition, rethink your recruitment process, and access those top talent pools.
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