16. 02. 2021

Own Your Product Career Development

Building your career should be exciting and empowering, but sometimes it can feel as though the speed and direction of our progress is out of our hands.Looking to take back control?Here are some simple, actionable ways to make sure you’re in the driving seat of your own development.  How is it that some people power upwards through the career ladder faster than you can track, while others inch forward with a minor promotion every few years?At Adaptive Product I’ve had the opportunity to work with digital marketing professionals across a variety of disciplines – eCommerce, tech, IoT and more.I’ve seen some candidates’ careers shoot up like rockets, leaping from promotion to promotion and cycling up through the pay grades.Others have moved more slowly, and I’m often asked by candidates frustrated with the pace of their career progress what they can be doing to keep moving forward.How do the shooting stars do it?The lady who went from Marketing Manager to Director Product in the blink of an eye… is she superhuman?Probably not – she’s most likely applying a few simple strategies that put her in control of her own career.Based on my work with career high-flyers, here are the best ways to ensure you own your progress.Work backwards from your goalsGoals can be defined in terms of earnings, job title, responsibility and many other factors.Whatever they are, you need to build a set of stepping stones to get there. You need to map your journey to that goal.Turning goals into plans is the secret.Plans keep you focused and ensure you work on other areas of your development to make progress achievable.Fight StagnationThe corporate world has conditioned many of us to think of progress and development in annual or bi-annual cycles.Why?That’s often the frequency with which our positions and our pay get reviewed by employers.If you want to truly take control of your development, you need to set your own time-frames.I’ve worked with many ambitious product experts who break that 12-24 month cycle down into 9 or even 6.With each period, they hold themselves accountable to progressing in key areas of their development, such as:Learning – have I acquired new skills? Do I understand things better?Results – am I doing this better than I was before?Network – have I made new connections that will help me?Exposure – have I interacted with a new team, tool, customer or project type?Earnings – have I taken steps towards a raise, promotion, bonus or financial improvement?Involve othersCompanies are seldom run by one individual. They’re led by a collaborative management team who lean on each other for support, advice and motivation.Leaving one person in charge is too much stress, too much risk and unlikely to produce results.Your career is one of the most important elements of your life – why not take the same approach?Proactively involving friends and colleagues in your career goals can give you some much-needed accountability and drive.Your Head of or Director is another key person to speak with. In a best case scenario, you’ll bring out the best in him or her as they help you to succeed. In unhappier situations, you’ll see their limitations and realize you may not hit your objectives under their supervision.Know when to move onIt’s important to explore potential within your current company before throwing in the towel.Good companies value ambition and will work with you to help develop your career.With that said, not all companies can give you the framework you need to reach your goals, however hard you work. Even if you do everything right you can only ever be part of the equation.Don’t stick with a company that can’t provide the opportunities, culture or investment to enable your progress.If you try and make it work but are feeling push-back, it may be the right time to make a change.* * *Adaptive Product provides recruitment services for professionals in the product development industry.Anyone looking to discuss their next career step, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn or at
16. 02. 2021

Tips to Prepare for a Product Interview

Okay, so you think you’re ready for your next big interview?You’ve got a shiny new CV prepared, your best clothes are prepped and you’re ready to meet that product team you’ve had your eye on for a while.It’s a mixture of nervous and excited energy, right?Any kind of interview is a daunting experience, especially if you’re going for one in a field you have set your sights on, such as Product Management. It’s one of the most competitive industries to go into in 2021, and there is a lot to learn.You’ve got new terminology to get to grips with, skills you’ll need to show off (or learn), questions you need to ask yourself – and answer! So, the team at Adaptive Product has put together a guide to help you out ahead of your big interview .Above all, the main thing is to smash the preparation – you can never be too prepared. We’ve jotted down some of the most common things we advise candidates about as we look to get them in front of some of the best people in the game.1. Brush up your appearanceNow, we’re not talking about getting a haircut or getting your Sunday best out the wardrobe (although, it might help) – we mean your social media appearance. In the world we live in, it should come as no shock that recruiters and employers will do their research before employment. Data from an AdWeek survey shows that 47% of employers will check a candidate’s social media platform after receiving an application, and 27% will go ahead and check after first interview. Overall, it’s estimated that more than 90% of employers use tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook to do a background check.Maybe think twice about that bleary-eyed photo from the weekend or just improve your privacy settings that little bit more. Avoid any awkward questions, or the possibility of missing a golden opportunity, because of an inappropriate picture from University, or a sarcastic Tweet that could land you in hot water.2. Do your researchA no-brainer, right?You want to check over the company’s recent news, get to know the product, it’s features and the potential of it.Check out the websites, the app and any press coverage (be it good, or bad) that the company has had recently.You can never be too informed about a company and the hiring managers. Therefore you should definitely do what the recruiter and employer on the other side will do: Check their social media profiles!3. Practice your interviewIt may sound daft or old fashioned, but we often find that the best way to prepare a candidate for an interview is to advise them to stand in front of the mirror and challenge themselves with questions such as:"What’s the most challenging part as being e.g. a product owner?” “How do you discuss features away?“How do you understand the needs of a user?“How would you notice that there is an issue with your product?” 4. Demonstrate experienceIf you’re speaking to one of our consultants at Adaptive Product, they’ll know a lot about what their client is looking for, what they’re likely to look for in a candidate and what experiences they’ll expect you to have had. So utilise your consultant – ask them what they think!Have a real good look at the job description – if it says the client is after a candidate with experience in API’s, think about any time you’ve worked on them. Are they looking for someone to lead a team? Oh, but you have no experience of doing so! Instead, think of a time you’ve had to lead someone. Even if it’s a workload, expectations, or team-building. Anything! If you can demonstrate experience or draw some kind of comparison, it’s better than saying nothing.One of the most successful ways to demonstrate experience is to ask the right questions. You will definitely leave the CPO impressed when asking him about make-or-buy decisions.Last but not least, it is important to understand your current role. If you are a product owner I bet you got some tasks on your table a state-of-the-art PO wouldn’t have. To make those tasks a subject of discussion will not get you the job I promise.5. Remember your manners!When all said and done, the ‘traditional’ interview rules still apply. Get there early, look sharp, shake hands, maintain eye contact, be polite, don’t slouch (sorry, do we sound like a parent?)Just be sure to do everything to the best of your ability, take pride in who you are and remember why you are there. If you’ve got this far, you’ve got something they are looking for – shine!Finally, don't panic!Interviews are stressful, yes, but they can also be enjoyable. If you maybe fluff your lines, or mess up a little bit, it’s okay. Put it down to experience, learn from it and go again. It’s not the end of the world and, after all, you’re going to smash it! Good luck!