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How to stand out in today's job market as a product marketer

Insights on the Current Job Market for Product Marketers

2022 was a year of constant change with drastic shifts in the tech labor market (and massive layoffs). With such uncertainty, it's natural to wonder what 2023 will be like for product marketing.

An Interview with Rebecca Tan, Senior Recruiter at Creative People

So back in December, I laid out my top 7 predictions for product marketing in 2023 in my LinkedIn post, where I mentioned that while more pressure will be put on product marketers, the roles will be even more critical this year.

However, I thought it could be even more insightful to hear the perspective on the labor market from a recruiter directly. This is why I am excited to interview Rebecca Tan, Senior Recruiter from Creative People in today's issue.

Navigating Job Opportunities and Career Growth for Product Marketers

Below, she shares her perspectives on the job market for product marketers and practical tips to help you navigate the landscape, whether you are a job seeker or hiring manager.

So let’s begin.

Yi Lin: I am so excited you are here Rebecca! Could you introduce yourself to everyone?

Rebecca: Hi! I’m a Senior Agent at Creative People, a people-first boutique recruiting agency that focuses on helping innovative start-ups grow their product, brand, and marketing teams. I oversee all of our Product Marketing and Communication searches.

Yi Lin: Thank you! The year 2022 has been interesting. Could you share what the hiring market was like in the past year from your experience?

Rebecca: Last year, I saw an explosion of product marketing roles earlier in the year - this is everything from MAANGs to smaller orgs creating product marketing departments for the first time. A lot of organizations began to recognize the strategic need for product marketing and the role it can play in growth.

In Q4, we began to see a slowdown in the market with the layoffs in tech due to the rapid growth companies experienced at the height of the pandemic. It was difficult to see and not easy for the candidates that were impacted. On the other hand, I’m optimistic as we’ve continued to see opportunities arise in the market, but there is a shift in the way companies approach hiring to be more strategic.

Y: Thank you for sharing that. I have observed similar patterns as a hiring manager and coach. I’d love to understand what you see as the shift.

R: I truly believe Product Marketing will remain a critical and strategic role. The difference is that we won’t be seeing the “hyper-growth” that many organizations experienced during the pandemic.

I fully agree with the perspective that you shared in your LinkedIn post, which is that companies are going to be more thoughtful and strategic in how they build their teams and allocate resources. Similarly, I also believe we’re going to see more emphasis on “retention” - how we can keep customers and maximize their value. PMMs can play a critical role in this as the voice of the customer.

I think this retention mentality will also extend to the companies as they think about how they can retain and nurture existing talent.

Y: I love that last point you made about retention and investing more in employees. But what will that mean for people looking for new jobs?

R: You should 100% be looking for new jobs and companies will continue to hire, as new roles will pop up (even as there could be fewer backfills). I always recommend candidates have a pulse on the market and take those first chats to learn more even if the timing isn’t right. Take your time and network so you understand what’s out there and when the right thing comes along, you’ll know.

Y: Fully agreed! It’s always better to be prepared. I also see more startups and companies add new product marketing roles and teams (even as they shed other functions) given the importance of this role in helping with business strategy and growth.

Overall, would you say you are bullish or bearish on the market for product marketers?

R: I am bullish. With anything, there will always be highs, lows, and changes. There is just a shift in the way companies are approaching hiring and growing teams during this time. I know it can feel uneasy with the number of layoffs we’ve seen, but at the same time, I’ve continued to see opportunities with companies hiring especially in startups.

Y: Thanks for sharing that, and it's reassuring. I want to switch gears a bit and talk about how candidates should job search in today’s economic climate. What are some things you recommend candidates do to stand out and best prepare?

R: First I highly recommend LinkedIn. We always talk about “geeking out” in your market and being an expert. Connect with your “dream companies” and leaders within your industry (like Yi Lin!). Do not be afraid to reach out to people and hiring managers to ask for informational interviews and make connections. Getting the perspective of others in your space can help change how you approach searches or represent yourself, and then make yourself top of mind to those target companies.

I also recommend refreshing your LinkedIn profile to express your personality, interests, and projects you’re proud of. For many hiring managers and recruiters, your LI profile is the 1st reference point before your resume.

Y: I am so glad LinkedIn is the first thing you brought up. It’s how I landed my first internship offer earlier in my career. Submitting your resume online or just counting on your friends to refer you is not enough in today’s market. I also recommend job seekers create cold referral opportunities through networking.

R: Yes totally! So the second thing I recommend is tailoring your experience and story to the job description: talking about yourself and distilling your experience can be one of the most difficult things. But think of yourself as similar to the products that you work with every day. How are you developing and storytelling about yourself?

If you find this difficult to do (as it can be to do it for yourself), this is where I recommend you work with someone like Yi Lin who is an expert in this area and specializes in product marketing. By talking to someone else you can vocalize things out loud and get a fresh perspective that helps you frame your experiences in a much more compelling way.

Lastly, I also recommend using a recruiting agency. Recruiters have a pulse on the market and what hiring managers are looking for. We like to call ourselves “agents'' because we try to present multiple opportunities to our candidates. It’s like being a matchmaker. We pair our companies and candidates up to allow for personal career development and company growth.

Y: I love that last point you brought up as many have not thought about using recruiting agencies. How can a candidate get agency representation from you?

We absolutely represent candidates from diverse backgrounds as the needs of hiring managers can vary. I love making connections with candidates, even if I don’t have a role that’s a close fit at the time. So you can just reach out to me!

YL: Amazing! What about companies - what mistakes do typical startups make when hiring PMMs? What should hiring managers do differently?

Great question! Product Marketing can be interpreted in different ways. But at its foundation, product marketers are the voice of the customer and should be able to speak the different “languages” of cross-functional teams (typically sales, product, and marketing) to drive strategy.

I’ve seen companies make mistakes when they’re making their first PMM hire. I’ve seen over-leveling, where it’s positioned as a senior role, but the needs of the company are creating assets/collateral to support the sales team. The opposite can be true too, where they are looking for someone to act as a director but only giving them a manager title/salary.

As a hiring manager, I would take a step back and assess what the short and long-term needs are for the team and how that aligns with existing resources. From there, identify where the gaps are to hone in on the profile you’re hiring for.

I would also consult specialists who can help advise an org if a hiring manager isn’t as familiar with the PMM landscape.

Y: Yeah I have seen this as well. This unfortunately happens due to the immaturity of the function. I generally tell candidates to target two levels of title, and also focus more on the responsibilities and scope, and less on the title itself. Anyways, this has been so insightful. To wrap up, are you currently taking on more companies to represent?

Absolutely! For hiring managers in product marketing, please reach out to me if you are interested in expanding your team! We can help paint a landscape of the industry, conduct salary analysis, develop JDs, and more. Reach out even if it’s to make the connection and say hello!

Yi Lin: Fantastic. Thank you so much for the wonderful insights!

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