2023’s job market has been very challenging, to say the least. With 240,000 layoffs in tech this year, the market is the most competitive I have seen in the last 10 years, and it’s not uncommon to see 1,000+ applications for a single job.
It’s no wonder why so many candidates (even experienced ones) struggle with landing offers or even interviews. If you used to get 15 responses from sending out 20 resumes, today you might hear from only 2, even if you have experience.
To help you land a job by January 2024, I have put together a 4-part newsletter series to dive deep into the entire job search process, using techniques that have been proven to work. This is what you can expect:
Part 1: How to land more product marketing interviews <- this newsletter
Part 2: How to ace the actual interview process
Part 3: How to ace product marketing assignments
Part 4: Launch your first 30-60-90 days with confidence
So let’s do this and dive straight in.
1. Understand your candidate/market fit
The biggest misconception people have about landing interviews is that landing more interviews means applying to more companies. In fact, quite the opposite - you want to target fewer roles where you have the highest candidate/market fit, especially in this highly competitive market.
Misconception: In a highly competitive market, I need to apply for more jobs in order to land more interviews
Reframe: In a highly competitive market, I should focus on targeting roles where I have the highest candidate/market fit
This is not only important for landing interviews, but also for closing the offer. One of the biggest reasons why candidates fail to land an offer in the final rounds is because of poor targeting. Imagine you are in the final rounds with 3 candidates who all can do the job - who will the company pick? Likely the person with the more obvious fit and advantage.
Case in point: My client Brandon was applying to a lot of jobs after getting laid off. But he kept losing out in the final rounds to candidates with more domain experience for those roles. Once we started working together, he applied to fewer roles and spent more time on ones where he had the best candidate/market fit. He started doing much better and got an offer in 8 weeks at his top choice company. Read about how he did this HERE.
So how do you determine your candidate/market fit? You have to evaluate your experience across 3 dimensions:
Your key strengths - These could be product marketing skills or interpersonal skills. For instance, are you more of a GTM specialist, or an inbound research expert? Are you great at influencing without authority?
Do research on core product marketing responsibilities and map out your strengths across each core area (generally these are research, positioning/messaging, GTM, and enablement).
Your competitive advantage - generally previous industry experience has the most bearing, followed by company business model and size. Increasingly, company size is becoming a more important factor in hiring. For instance, if you have only worked in big tech, you may not be fit for early-stage startups where product marketing requires different skills.
Your values - importantly you also want to understand clearly your personal values to ensure the cultural match. Do you want to work in a highly fast-paced, ambiguous environment or the opposite?
Once you have gotten this clarity you can then focus on targeting the right opportunities.
2. Create a strong personal story
Once you have found your candidate market fit, it’s time to create your personal story. Your personal story shows up on your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile and is the first impression the recruiter/hiring manager will have of you.
Just like in product marketing, to create the best story for yourself you need strong positioning and messaging - which is why I recommend you create your own personal messaging house so your competitive advantages and elevator pitch are really clear. To develop your own personal messaging house, click here.
Misconception: In order to impress, I need to talk about every aspect of myself so they can know about everything I can do
Reframe: In order to impress, I need to focus on what the company truly cares about, and share the BEST aspects of myself relevant to the role
Now it’s time to create a resume. To craft a great resume, make sure you are starting with the roles you are targeting, and work backward to match your resume to the requirements of each role. To get instructions on how to create the best resume, click HERE.
Case in point: My client Diego had a very unconventional experience as a former PM and startup founder. When he tried to land interviews he was running into issues with clearly telling his personal story and his resume was not converting. I worked with him to develop his personal story, enabling him to turn his perceived challenges into competitive advantages. As a result, he removed the fluff from his resume and optimized it to focus on what each job requires. Within a few weeks of these changes, his response rate to job applications was near 100%, and he accepted an offer within 2.5 months.
One of the most common questions I get is whether you should include a cover letter with your application. While there is a lot of advice that says cover letters are unnecessary, I believe they are crucial for your job search success to signal high intent and stand out. To create a great cover letter, click HERE.
3. Apply the right way to land product marketing interviews
Now that you have all your materials prepped, it’s time to apply. The last thing you want to do is to submit your resume online, where it will sit with hundreds of other resumes.
What you need to do is to get referrals as much as possible. This is because getting a referral is 15x more effective than submitting online (Jobvite). The most effective referrals will come from people who hold higher positions in the company and/or have directly worked with you before. This is why the network you have built really matters.
So what if you don’t have anybody you know who can refer you? Then you need to get a cold referral. This means reaching out directly to the hiring manager in your target companies, with a thoughtful message that directly ties your background to why you are a great fit for the role. Here are some tips to keep in mind when crafting an outreach message.
Note- there has been a lot of talk about how hiring managers hate getting messages, but that’s only if they are getting generic messages. If you are sending well-thought-out messages then they will be read.
Misconception: Hiring managers hate getting directly messaged via email or LinkedIn and this will ruin your chances
Reframe: Hiring managers who are intentional about whom they hire, will read and consider a well-composed and relevant message.
Additionally, I often recommend to my clients that they reach out to 3-5 people within the company who could be peers for informational interviews to secure more possible referrals. The key is to do all of the above to maximize your chance of landing interviews.
Case in point: My client Stephanie received three interview requests within the first week of working with me on her job search. 1 interview request came from cold outreach, 1 came from a warm referral, and another from a direct online application with a cover letter (as she could not find the HM online). She seized all three opportunities and accepted an offer from one of them in less than 8 weeks.
Landing a great product marketing job is possible in today’s job market with persistence and the right strategy, and it starts with landing great interviews. To most effectively land interviews, follow all the steps below:
Clearly map out your candidate/market fit
Create your messaging house for your target roles
Work backward to develop your resume and cover letter
Work your network to get referrals as much as possible
Reframing limiting beliefs, finding a support system, and celebrating your small wins will go a long way to helping you reach success without burnout.
If you’d like more help along this journey, consider enrolling in my DIY course, which dives into all of the above steps in much more detail. For a limited time only, you also get the opportunity to participate in monthly live group interviews and job search coaching - so you can get expert guidance directly from me and never feel alone in this process.
I wish you much success and see you in Part 2!