2 Mistakes Product Leaders Make When Recruiting

Throughout my Product career I have seen companies struggle with recruiting and hiring good Product talent. Helping companies find and recruit Product talent is one of the core services we have here at Pathfinder Product Labs, but we also help companies reflect on why they are struggling to recruit and hire Product talent. Two major themes have emerged.

First, Product leaders are not directly involved in recruiting product talent. They rely on internal HR or Talent Acquisition teams, or external recruiters or partners like Pathfinder to find candidates. While that approach might work for some roles, it does not as well for Product roles. Product people, regardless of whether they are early-career or senior-level, want to hear from Product leaders – directly.

Specifically, they want to hear about:

  • The role itself
  • The Product vision
  • The Product strategy
  • The organization’s mission
  • How/if teams are empowered
  • How often they talk to customers

In addition to hearing the answers to the above questions, candidates want to see and feel the passion and energy in the voice of Product leaders. When candidates hear the passion and energy, they get motivated and excited about the problem, the opportunity, and the role. HR and recruiters can’t do this justice. Product leaders need to personally cultivate their network and engage with the local Product community on a regular basis. Trust me, the time and effort will pay off.

Second, talent shortage/salaries are unsustainable. As everyone knows, we are in the midst of The Great Resignation. Companies need to build their Product pipeline with impressive, diverse talent, exploring all avenues to do so – that includes recruiting college graduates and early-career professionals. Indiana University, University of Wisconsin, Product School, and others are making this investment in young Product talent. Corporations need to consider hiring college graduates and early-career Product talent, invest in their future through coaching and empowerment, provide a supportive and diverse culture, and get out of their way so they can be awesome. The next generation of Product leaders awaits.

There are many other reasons I’ve heard, but these are the two that I’ve seen and heard the most. Agree? Disagree? Additional thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

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