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  • JJ Rorie

How to Stand Out in the Product Management Job Market

Episode 088

On this episode, we discuss how to stand out in the product management job market. Our guest is Chris Mason, co-founder of Intelligent People, a product management recruitment agency.

Chris shares his expertise on the evolving job market and the increasing visibility of product management as a discipline.

He highlights the growing number of graduates and better training options in this field. Chris also mentions the rise of Chief Product Officers and product-led organizations. However, he cautions that the job market has become more competitive due to recent layoffs and an influx of talent. Big tech companies have been making cuts, leading to a flood of candidates. Despite the challenges, Chris believes there is still optimism for those pursuing a career in product management.

This is an episode you won't want to miss, whether you're currently in job market or not, this discussion has something for everyone.





Some key action items from the episode include:

  • Prepare well for interviews by researching the company and role, and having examples of impactful work ready to discuss.

  • Ask for feedback at the end of interviews to address any concerns before leaving.

  • Show enthusiasm for the role if excited about it.

  • Keep LinkedIn profiles up-to-date with details of experience and impact to be found for relevant opportunities.

  • Consider using a recruiter or mentor to help prepare for interviews and get feedback on applications.

0:03 Introduction to Product Voices and its purpose

2:09 Evolution of the Product Job Market in recent years

4:45 Rise of Product Management as a Career Choice

7:18 Market Pick-up and Increasing Hiring Demand

10:13 Importance of Skills and Experience in Product Management

12:55 Hiring Managers' Perception of Domain Expertise

15:52 Standing Out as a Product Management Candidate

19:20 Importance of Impact Statements on Resumes

23:38 Networking and Mentoring for Job Seekers

27:39 Importance of Feedback and Asking for it in Interviews

31:29 Introduction to the Free Product Mentoring Program

36:27 A comprehensive range of services for product management

38:07 Helping organizations understand the ideal product management candidate


Intro  00:04

Welcome to Product Voices, a podcast where we share valuable insights and useful resources to help us all be great in product management. Visit the show's website to access the resources discussed on the show. Find more information on our fabulous guests are to submit your product management question to be answered on our special q&a episodes. That's all it And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform. Now, here's our host, JJ Rorie, CEO of Great Product Management.


JJ  00:37

Hello, and welcome to Product Voices. Today's episode is going to be a very important one for a lot of people out there. There are so many people, unfortunately, who are in the market for a new job, whether it's from layoffs or, you know, just looking for their new adventure, there's a ton of people who are looking to get into the product management, craft and function, whether they're new grads or moving from another function, product management's highly visible, highly exciting. A lot of folks are in the job market today for product roles. And so today's conversation is going to be all about how to stand out in that market and how to, you know, position yourself in a way that helps you as a candidate trying to get into product management. I'm really, really excited to have my guest here. He's an expert on this. I've got Chris Mason with me, Chris co-founded intelligent people in 2002 intelligent people is a boutique product management recruitment agency. It's now over 20 years old with a great deal of experience in this product market. The agency specializes in retained executive search permanent contingency recruitment and contract interim placements. Chris, thank you so much for joining me. I'm excited for this conversation.


Chris  01:49

Hey, JJ, thanks for inviting me on.


JJ  01:51

You bet you bet. So I love that you've, you've been in product for a long time, and you've been in the recruiting in the job market a product for so long, you've probably seen lots of different things come along the way. So tell me about kind of how the product job market has evolved in recent years.


Chris  02:09

Yeah, so we've we've seen lots of change through the last 20 years. So when we first started to see product roles, we didn't really understand them. And were they project management, were they technical with a commercial, but over time, we figured it out. And today, I think the main difference is product. Product Management is a really high profile discipline. People know more about it, there's a larger workforce, there's a larger pool of opportunity, larger pool of candidates, we now talk to graduates coming out of university naming product management as a kind of a vocation that they want to go into this better training, there are amazing communities, there's amazing podcasts, JJ, who are there, helping the community learn and network and develop, we actually have a mentorship platform as well that we launched earlier this year to try and help people with their learning and career development. And we've got lots of role models that are producing content as well, and just helping people to learn and understand trends. So a lot has changed. And I think as well, CP, CP O's are increasingly high profile. So it's, you know, it's more normal now for them to have to be at the most senior level within an organization. And increasingly, we see true product led organizations where the product is the business, which didn't necessarily used to be the case, you know, you'd have, you know, product managers that are building products to support the business in its normal function. But now you have businesses that are products, and product is central to everything that they do. So there's never a better time to be in product product management, and it's growing and growing. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I love how you mentioned a few things there, which is something that I've seen, that's, it's fascinating, and again, just kind of to me fits with, with that last part that you talked about, and how product is so central to so so many organizations, and really should be in every organization and literally is the organization in many, many different companies. But it's interesting, because product management is almost expanding up and down.


JJ  04:29

Right. So, you know, to your point, CPO wasn't a thing. I don't know 10 years ago, maybe there was one or two scattered here or there, you know, Chief Product Officer, you know, seat at the table, the the real, you know, C suite leadership table wasn't really a thing. And Associate Product managers or junior product managers or people starting their career in product management wasn't really a thing, you know, to your point about universities and I teach at Johns Hopkins and I can attest to almost All of my students want to be product managers, even before they really realize what that is. Right? Because of the visibility and the excitement around it. So product management has become, you know, something that those of us who've been in it for a while, are excited to see, we're excited to see the rest of the world kind of get on board. But it does, you know, I'm sure cause some some problems. It's very, very competitive out there right now. So tell me, tell me what you're seeing in the job market today. You know, any trends or any anything that you would you see happening out there in the market?


Chris  05:37

Yeah, so it's 2023 has been a challenging year. So 21, 22, you know, that were boom years, everyone was hiring, and arguably, big tech overheid. You know, they they always oversteer, and they tend to hire too much, they tend to cut too much. That's, that's what we see. And, you know, many, many people we talk to you say that as well. So we could see that we were going into a downturn, and there was lots that was happening on a macro level with conflict, and, you know, kind of quantitive easing, and in, you know, inflation and all the rest of it. And big tech started to make layoffs at the end of last year and early this year. And that meant, we were seeing a flood of a flood of talent coming into the market, you know, through no fault of their own. And then through 2023. It was the it was the scaling businesses that were making the cuts. That's what we saw in you know, I think Facebook meta made cuts sort of mid year as well, or just recently, even. But a lot of a lot of the scale up businesses that we work with, were saying that they would they would, they had to extend their own way, you know, it's a difficult environment to raise money, venture capital, private equity, they were being very cautious, and they had to cut to survive. And again, that fit the market. You know, we had an oversupply of candidates, there was still lots of action. And we could see companies hiring. But there was just an oversupply of candidates who've made it really competitive, it made it really difficult for people. And I think that's the, that's the pain that people have felt if they were looking, you know, if they if they had to find a job, basically. But what we've seen more recently, coming into q4, so during the summer, it was very challenging. But a lot of that talent was soaked up. And you know, things have really started to pick up in the fourth quarter. And we're, you know, as a business, and we're very busy, which is a good reflection on the market, I would say.


JJ  07:37

Yeah, that's great. And you, I guess, are predicting not to put words in your mouth? So let me let me state it as a question. Are you predicting, you know, could some of that, you know, up up swaying, you know, early in 2024 and ongoing? Are you are you believing that the market will stay a little bit stronger and have some more hiring?


Chris  07:59

Yeah, I think so we are, and we, you know, we're investing ourselves because of that. And we can see our clients investing and hiring as well. And I think that, you know, there's been core demand all the way through the problem was, there was an oversupply of candidates, you know, middle part of this year. But we're seeing demand increasing now. And also, it's getting a little bit trickier to find the people that we need, particularly when we're doing very specific search work. And that's a that's a sign that the markets kind of, you know, kind of tightening up a little bit, which is, you know, probably good for everyone. So, you know, it's not, it's definitely not doom and gloom, and there are things that people can do, which, you know, we'll probably talk about in a second to try and optimize their chances of getting opportunities and securing the, you know, the right job for them. But, yeah, we we definitely see it picking up coming into, you know, the start of next year,


JJ  08:58

Definitely want to spend quite a bit of time talking to candidates and what they can do. But before we get there, I'd love to because obviously this this, you know, feeds that or drives that. What are your clients? What are employers looking for when they're hiring product candidates today?


Chris  09:18

So it really depends on the on the level of the role, and you know, the domain that they're in as well. But there are definitely common themes. So if you think about product managers, probably the purpose of product management, it's understanding customer needs, or user needs, solving problems, and creating value. And so those those kinds of commercial skills are really, really important. And then product managers that, you know, they work with so many different parts of the business with technology, design data, commercial stakeholders, some customers depending on the sector that they're in, third parties, so kind of communication skills influencing skills roles, you know, logical reasoning and the ability to employ to articulate a business case and why somebody should do something, why somebody should, you know, kind of buy into what they're they're proposing. So that, you know, it obviously depends on the level. So you get, you know, Junior product roles, and perhaps more product owner executing a roadmap with less of the commercial, you know, kind of side and the discovery side. But as you start to get into product management, and particularly more senior roles, you know, influencing skills, commercial thinking becomes so important and come to the front. And then there's sometimes kind of hard skills, depending on the type of business, that domain that they're in. So sometimes role could be deeply technical. I mean, we've been doing some product work in the cybersecurity space recently, and, you know, deeply technical roles, and people have to be technical to, you know, to be able to get up and running. And, you know, if you think about regulated markets, you know, usually this, there's a learning curve there, around regulation, what you can or can't do, or, you know, if you think about health tech, or medical tech, you know, similar, so some domain experience helps. And we often see clients saying, we really want somebody with experience of this, because it D risks it for us, and it makes the learning curve, you know, kind of less. Yeah, and, you know, we often get asked for the usual things like use of data as people that, you know, defer to data, they use data to kind of uncover problems and opportunities and data to measure effectiveness and always having an outcome in mind measure measuring what you're doing to see if it's getting the outcome you expected. And, you know, because big part of product management is testing different things. And failure is fine, as long as you recognize something's failing, and you kill it quickly, or you change tack and test something different. So kind of use of data and that analytical approach. You know, we see that all the time.


JJ  11:54

Yeah, absolutely. And I'm just curious, that kind of follow up question on that. So again, just kind of feeding on the theme that there are more new career, new grads or early career folks trying to get in this, with the exception of some of those truly technical, truly important domains. Not that everything's not important, but domains where experience is important. You know, let's set those aside. Because there, there really are some that that you need to have a deep knowledge of, of something other than those, the truth is, in my experience, and this is just an opinion based on that, but I believe that a lot of hiring managers over inflate the importance of domain expertise, and, and even product management expertise. And I think that's just a product of de risking, of not having the, you know, time or capability to mentor people up. And so they want to have someone hit the ground running. I guess we all would, right. But I think they're missing a little bit there. Do you? Are you seeing any trends there were in domains where, you know, the learning curve isn't so steep? Do you see any any hiring managers and organizations say, you know, what, if I can find someone with those soft skills, if I can find someone with the data analytics, if I can find someone that I can teach, the industry will be better at seeing any of that yet in the market?


Chris  13:20

Yeah, and I think that's, I think that's always there. And it's a, it's a conversation we try and have with every piece of work that we do. So whenever we look at a piece of work, we're thinking about how big is the candidate pool, and so if they're looking for something very specific, in a very specific domain, there may be just a small number of people, and how many of those are going to be at the right level, available, interested at the right price point, and so on. So we try and have a conversation with them and try and increase the size of the candidate pool? You know, and, and also, another thing to think of is, why should someone come across town and do the same thing? You know, what's their what's in it for them? You know, what's their progression? You know, they're just paying loads more money? Are they offering a better career opportunity? Is it a step up for them? Because if it's not, then that makes it very, very challenging. And if you think about it, having you know, if you think about the the core product skills, you know, what's needed to do the job and to make impact? Someone's gonna be more motivated coming in and learning a different domain and actually maybe bring fresh, fresh perspective as well. There's always a debate about b2b b2c, you know how transferable it is, and it kind of is, my personal feeling is it isn't it isn't, I mean, working in a consumer market with hundreds of 1000s Millions, faceless consumers versus an enterprise software business where you go and meet your clients and you talk to them and, you know, very different skills. Not to say that people can't transfer across some people do, but I can see the argument that we at least need someone who's worked with enterprise software on a, you know, in a b2b environment but we try and increase the size of the candidate pool because it gives the client more choice from a bigger pool.


JJ  15:05

Totally. Yeah, that makes sense. And, and I think that's exactly right is, you know, just kind of knowing where those boundaries are. And, you know, are they real are they perceived, you know, and you being a, you know, a great partner and showing them, some of those boundaries could probably be be knocked down. And also love the point about, you know, we as product people, we're naturally curious, we want to learn new things, we want to do this, you know, different things. And so bringing in someone to a different domain, actually, in my experiences is often a very good thing. So just curious about that. So thanks for kind of that, that follow on question. So now let's, let's talk about candidates. So the folks out there who are trying to get into product management trying to move around in product management, you know, what can they do to stand out in this type of market.


Chris  15:53

So, if we're talking about people that are actively job seeking, or not, or if they're not actively job seeking, they should recognize that at some point, they will be. And they need to, they should think about whether they want to raise red flags than the moment they start job seeking. And what I'm talking about there is LinkedIn profile. So you know, we can talk a little bit about resume and what we tend to look for in a resume. But the often the main channel to candidates for most people is LinkedIn. So whether that's a recruitment agency, an internal talent team, or even someone within your own network that's looking for the right sort of person. So the data you have in your LinkedIn profile is really important. And if you if you find that your approach by people for opportunities that aren't relevant, and you find that annoying, it's probably because your LinkedIn profile hasn't got the right data in it. So just really explaining what you're working on what projects you're on what products you're working on, if you're leading a team, how big is that team, that sort of data really helps, because there might be a product leader role, and somebody who's leading a team of three or four, it's very different to someone who's leading a team of 50. So different role different, you know, kind of probably a different, totally different skill set. And if people don't know what level you're at, then you'll be approached with roles that are irrelevant. And the flip side is, if you make sure the data is really good, you'll be approached with stuff that you might find really appealing. And when the time is right, you know, change your LinkedIn status status to active, you know, open to work, and you'll start to see people approaching you, and they could be people that you know, within your own network, which is, which is great. So, I think in terms of giving yourself the edge, I would always keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, because anyone that just suddenly updates their LinkedIn profile and makes the data really rich, it makes people think about looking for work, they're obviously looking for a job, as you do it incrementally. It's, you know, it's sort of it's a very normal, natural thing to do get a promotion, update your LinkedIn profile,


JJ  17:59

I have a follow up quick question on that, on that specific do you is is mirroring the type of information you have on your CV? Or your resume, on your LinkedIn profile, a good practice? Or should it be, you know, positioned differently written differently, what what's, what's the connection there between your CV and your LinkedIn profile.


Chris  18:20

So think the cool stuff, such as, you know, dates of employment, where you've worked, that's really important in marriage, because otherwise, it looks suspicious. Because people are less likely to fabricate something on LinkedIn, because it's public. And their colleagues might say, you know, and that would raise alarm bells. So I think it's important that the course stuff is aligned your resume, you probably have information on the, you know, that is, you know, not necessarily confidential, but stuff that you maybe wouldn't put on LinkedIn. So you can you can put more information on your your resume. But I think, making sure that they're synced in terms of the, you know, the core periods of work, and, you know, maybe even job titles, that's, that's, that's quite important. I think in terms of a resume. You know, it's, there's some obvious things like, you know, clear, clear formatting, and you should be able to look at it really quickly and understand exactly what that person does. And then you can, you can look at more detail as you go. It's always, you know, I kind of try and challenge candidates on this, there's almost always an error on their resume, and you won't see it because you've written it, and even when you read it, you won't see it. So it's always useful to get a friend or family member or whatever, just to run their eyes over it. One of the one of the things that we probably in 75% of cases with all candidates at all levels that we have to talk to them about is impact statements. And what I mean by that is talking about the effect of your work. So what most people do with a resume is they describe the scope of their work. They describe the duties and responsibilities, but they don't talk about the effect of their work and what I mean by that is what value Have you created directly. And think data reference points. So, you know, customer you know, so revenue, reducing churn, reducing cost, improving customer experience. So when you talk about something that you've done a good one, a good way of thinking about it is looking at your resume and think What am I most proud of, and what's been the most impactful, and then think, is there a number I can attach to that that isn't confidential. And you should ideally put that on your resume, because it makes it super powerful. So with product roles, all of all of the customers that we work with, they want people that are data focused, and you know that that kind of whatever you're doing, you have an outcome in mind, you're doing something with purpose, and you're measuring against it, and you know whether something is successful or not. And a good way to show that you think that way is to just use impact statements and highlight the things that you've done that have been impactful. So I would definitely recommend doing that. And also following that through in interviews, as well. Try and think of, you know, the really key things that you've done that have been impactful, ideally that are relevant to the role that you're going for, and quote that so when you're talking about something you've done, then say the effect and the outcome, because again, that's really powerful.


JJ  21:16

Absolutely, that totally makes sense. So Thanks for Thanks for that kind of additional, because I get I get questions as it as a professor, you know, people kind of, you know, getting into that job market specifically, you know, what should the resume have an impact statements or you couldn't, couldn't be more important. So what else? What else can candidates do to stand out in the market?


Chris  21:38

Yeah, so I think, obviously, CV LinkedIn profile, I think, use your network. But you know, again, people don't think of this. So think about the places you've worked in the past, check down the people that used to work with, you know, because everyone moves around all the time. And you'll probably be surprised where, where they are. And if you're actively looking for work, just reach out to people and just let them know. And it's totally okay to say, you know, I'm actually looking for something new. And I'd be really interested in this, just sort of ask the question, if you know, if anything, or if there's anything at your place, and it can open doors. Usually people in your network love that, because most organizations have referral bonuses for, for hires. And you can be advocated inside an organization by links by a trusted member of staff. So using your network is, is really useful. I think, I'll talk a bit about kind of our mentorship platform. So you know, we launched it earlier in the year, and it's a free service. So whatever you whoever you use, as a mentor, you know, you can get access to mentorship for free, wherever you are. And they can help you they can they can coach you, whether it's, you know, learning and career development, or specifically going through an interview process. It's interesting, we launched it in January. And we've started to get lots of feedback now from many mentees that have, you know, connected with mentors, and often, they'll coach them through interviews, you know, if they have to do a task, that they're kind of bouncing it off them, and they're getting feedback before they go into the interview from a product leader. I mean, that's incredibly valuable.


JJ  23:17

Yeah, that's I totally agree with networking and mentoring. So I may ask you a little bit. A follow up question on the mentoring in a moment, we'll certainly put some information on the show notes. Because I think any, any kind of mentoring opportunity is amazing for folks. So let's go into let's go into the interview. So what do you think is important for interviewees? You know, folks trying to get the job? You know, any interview tips for folks out there who are going to be interviewing?


Chris  23:52

Yeah, absolutely. So there's probably three, three main things I'd say. So you've scheduled the interview, the first thing to do is to prepare. So you know, just have a look at the people that you're you're going to be meeting, have a look at their background, see if there's any common connections that you've got, if you're working with a recruiter, you know, we try and give a bit of insight into the person that is going to be interviewing, because that just kind of helps. But there may be someone in your network that knows the person and you can just learn a little bit about them. Try and try and understand what the interview format is. So is it a one on one or is it a kind of a group session? Just because having foresight of that just enables you to perform better, you know, just knowing what you're walking into just makes you more relaxed. And, you know, if you if you can learn anything about the format, you know, the format of the interview, what tends to happen in the interview, again, that that will really help you and, you know, that's something that we and I think most recruitment agencies will help with the classic The classic example I always give here is the Amazon bar raiser interview. So we've did quite a lot of work with Amazon over the years. And you know that with the bar raiser interview, it's, you know, it's quite a tough detail focused, you know, kind of interview from somebody who's in a different part of the business, I'm related to your job role. And it can be challenging for various reasons. And often, we have feedback from candidates who would say, that was really awful, and I'm sure I've failed, I'm sure I've failed, I could feel myself thinking through the interview. But actually, they may have performed quite well. So just knowing what you're walking into, and having somebody to say to you that this is what it's going to be like, it's going to be tough, but it doesn't mean that you're doing badly. So just stay strong. You know, keep thinking about the questions you're being asked and remember your answers, and you'll be okay. You know, so just just a bit of foresight helps you to perform better. Whereas it would be easy to think this is all full, you know, feel as though you're sinking early on. And it's you know, it turns out to be a nightmare. I think, you know, just usually with an interview, you've seen a job description, that's a certain amount of information that you'll have, think about what you don't know, and, you know, go in with questions as part of your preparation. So if you think about a product manager, you know, questioning is really key. So go in and ask the questions to get the information about the role, whether it's, you know, what's the scope of the role? What's in the roadmap? What challenges are we facing, just so that you can make a you know, you can form a good impression of actually how interested am I is this right for me, and just be ready to talk through your experience as well. So, again, either looking at the job description about what experience they're looking for, and what's important, or, you know, talking to an internal talent person or the recruiter that you're working with, just try and try and get them to summarize what are the key things that are important to them so that you're ready to highlight experiences that, again, this is this is something I find, it's something we really coach candidates on, it's something that always surprises me. So I'll get a candidate to do a walkthrough of their background. And then they won't they won't mention anything that's relevant to the role or some of the key things are follow up with questions at the end and say, Have you got if you've got you have done this? Have you got an example of where you've done that, and they'll come up with some incredible examples. And it's like, you have to volunteer this, you know, this is this is really important that this particular role. So this is about matching needs, find out as much as you can about what they need. Think about where you've done that, or the closest samples you've got. And when you do your CV walkthrough, you know, volunteer that information. So sorry, that's a long answer to the first bit of preparation. I think this is two of the things that I briefly say that are important. The bulk of the interview is about it's a two way thing, it's about, you know, the interviewer finding out about you and making a judgement about you. And also you finding out about the opportunity and making a judgement itself, this is right for me. Towards the end of the interview, I'd really recommend you ask for feedback. And often candidates are nervous about this. That is, you know, it's often said that feedback for for product people is the biggest gift you can possibly have. And it's the same in an interview. And if you ask for feedback about how your background matches what they're looking for how they feel about your experience, if there isn't a thing that's on their mind, it just gets it on the table, and it gives you a chance to talk about it before the interview ends. And it could be something that you've done that hasn't been discussed that you can recap on, it might be something you've never done, in which case, just be honest, and say you're absolutely right. I've never done that. Or even even doing that sounds good. But it may be that you can give an example of another situation, you've walked into what you've had to learn something really quickly and how you did that. So it just gives you some influence over their thinking before the second session ends. And it means that they leave without any misconceptions about you or your experience. So I'd say ask for feedback. That would be the second thing. The third thing is if you if you if you're excited about the job, you've got to get that across. And you know, whether it's through the interview, or at the end of the interview, close the interview by saying look, I'm really excited by this opportunity and say something genuine about what excites you. We get we often get feedback where the client says, experience was really good, but I just don't think they wanted it. And we go back to the candidate and they're like, No, that's crazy. You know, of course, I want it, you know, but interviews, you know, there can be intimidating, you have to kind of interview face on it sometimes that dulls down the enthusiasm. So if you if you love the opportunity, if you like the role, the perfect way to close the interview is by telling them that you want the job or that you're you want to learn more, you're excited about it.


JJ  29:36

I absolutely love that advice. I especially the feedback. Wow. I was sitting here thinking I don't think I've ever asked for feedback at the end of an interview. Right. And I just And to your point, I think, you know, folks could get nervous about doing that they might not want the feedback or scared to hear the truth. But I love that idea. I think that is a really really good Good way to number one show, you're a product manager, we're supposed to ask for feedback, real time feedback, right? Like, and I can imagine that that, you know, shows real product chops to do that, and probably helps you stand out, because I'm sure not most, you know, most people don't do that unless they work with your agency, of course, because they're, they're very schooled on that. Yeah, and the excitement for the role is so, so, so true, I, I learned a long time ago, to be very clear that I would love to work for you, I would love to be a part of this team, or I would love to learn more and talk to more of your team or anything like that. And, and and, uh, you know, it is it is interesting, I think when we're, you know, not the more and more you interview, period, the more comfortable you get, right, it's just, it's a just like anything else, you practice it, you get a little better. But we do get sometimes so nervous that, that we're not ourselves. And that's, you know, it's important to, to be excited if you're excited and to show that. So I absolutely love that. And so everybody listening, those are some amazing tips there, prepare, make sure you're prepared, get feedback at the end and show your excitement. So awesome. I would love to hear a little bit more about your free product mentoring, system and program that you've set up. I mean, I just think those are so important. Tell me a little bit more about that. And you know, how it works, or you know, what you found, today, anything you'd like to share about that I think would be would be really cool.


Chris  31:29

I'd love to say I over the years, we've had lots of candidates asking us, asking us for advice about learning career development. And as recruiters, you know, yes, we know about product management, but we're not product managers. So we're often not the best people to answer those questions. So we started thinking about how we can help the community and there's loads of data to really highlight how powerful and valuable mentorship is, in terms of people progressing more, earning more money, getting promoted more quickly, feeling more empowered, and also from mentors as well, actually finding it, you know, really rewarding, and, you know, sharing some of their experience and their learnings with with other people. So we thought we would build a launcher, a mentorship marketplace, and it's a completely free global service. We launched in January 2023, we've on boarded over 150, Product leaders, CPAs, VP products, and so on, who are offering their time for free to help people. And part part of this is about making it accessible. So, you know, some people finish it benefit from mentorship, their whole life, you know, for the moment they're born, just because of the family, they're born into the environment they grow up in, but not everyone has that opportunity. And this is about making it accessible. And we've started to get some, I think I've touched on it earlier, some really incredible feedback from, I think we've had over 1000 and mentorship requests. And, you know, some of some of the mentors are working with multiple people, sometimes it's for short engagements to just, you know, set them off on a certain direction, or help them overcome a certain problem, or coach them through an interview process or whatever. But we've started to have some incredible feedback from people about how it's helped them how it's helping them to learn how it's helping them to get a job or get promoted or move their career in a in a different trajectory or direction. So it's a, we've got a good feedback as well in terms of the simplicity. So you can you can read more about it on our website, you can browse the mentors, and try and find someone that you think is most relevant to you, and that you feel most comfortable with. And then you can reach out and connect with them. And yeah, we're just really happy with the way it's going. So anyone who doesn't have a mentor in product management, I would strongly advise them to you know, go and find one and you know, whether it's someone you know, or our mentorship platform, and we're always interested in more mentors as well. So if you're a product leader if you've got people management experience and even if you can just spend an hour hour at you can just spare an hour a month you know, please think about it we're actively looking for more women product leaders as well. Because we know that you know, we want to have a diverse pool and we know that certain people would prefer to have a you know, with a woman mentor so yeah, it's open to everyone. We want it to be diverse, we want it to be accessible. And please please read more on our website intelligent


JJ  34:40

Awesome. That's That's amazing. And we'll certainly share that link and information it's it's such a wonderful program. Thank you for putting it out there. It's gonna help so many people and and I love your your point about being a mentor. I mean, it's not only rewarding, it makes you feel good and to give back Um, but it's, it's good for your craft. I mean, you know, when I became a mentor informally and some formally, I just realized that teaching people things helps me solidify, you know, my stance and my positions and the way that I, you know, my style, and it is just a really good thing to teach and mentor and coach for your own career. And so I love that you bring that up, it's a good thing to do.


Chris  35:28

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Yeah, I was really, really happy with the way it's going and the number of people that it's helping as well.


JJ  35:34

Yeah, that's, that's amazing. So, again, we'll put some information out there on the show notes. But the last question is, you know, tell me about your business and how, you know, some of the, the ways that you help businesses, obviously, you you do the recruiting and you're you're amazing at it, anything that's been around for 20 years in this in this space is, is wonderful. But, you know, tell me a little bit more about intelligent people and you know, how you help your clients and businesses.


Chris  36:04

Yeah, so we we've specialized in product for 20 years, or more now. And we've got a an incredibly strong network. Probably about half of our customers are consumer brands. So ecommerce, retail media, travel, FinTech, edtech. And about half of b2b, big put big part of that is SAS software, because it's a huge market, but enterprise software services devices even as well. So we work across all areas of product management. We grew up as a contingency recruitment company, a permanent recruitment company, we've worked with, we've been placing interns for a long time, we're seeing a bit of a trend with fractional interests as well. So particularly scale up businesses, or early stage businesses that want the benefit of somebody very senior to come in and help them you know, just help maybe help the strategy, avoid missteps, that sort of thing. And we we also have an executive search service as well, for very senior confidential, very specific leadership roles. And as part of all of that, we help our clients with candidate profiling, helping them to understand that the type of profile that they need, and how realistic that is, you know, looking at market mapping, and, you know, all of it all of the targeting work, the salary benchmarking, you know, advice around equity packages, and so on as well, which can be very complex, because there are lots of angles and dimensions to that. How best to engage candidates and engagement strategy, kind of employer brand consultancy as well. So we help our clients in a number of different areas. We, you know, we grew up in the UK, we work in Europe, we work in North America, we're doing work at moment in Dubai. So we, you know, kind of most of the main tech hubs all around the world.


JJ  37:53

That's amazing. And, you know, again, I just I love that there's, there's a service and a partner for organizations to really understand product management, and understand the the talent that they need. And again, it's not that they're, I'm sure your clients are not flying blind, right, they have a lot of good information, and I'm sure are very successful in their own right in terms of product, but there's still enough organizations out there that you know, product is new enough, or they don't quite understand it's not not entrenched enough in their culture that you know, some of those services just to help them understand what that ideal candidate should look like, could look like what those boundaries are to open up a little bit more of the pool. So I love it. And again, anyone who's, you know, looking to hire, we'll put the website and information out there, and you can reach out to Chris and his team. Chris, this has been a fabulous conversation. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and your experience. I know it's going to help businesses, it's going to help candidates and it's just been a really fun conversation. Thanks for being here.


Chris  38:57

It's been a pleasure, JJ. And thanks for inviting me on.


JJ  39:00

And thank you all for listening to product voices. Hope to see you on the next episode.


Outro  39:04

Thank you for listening to product voices hosted by JJ Rorie. To find more information on our guests resources discussed during the episode or to submit a question for our q&a episodes, visit the show's website And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform.


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