Replacing or Hiring a Product Manager

If you haven’t already, at some pointin your company’s lifespan you’re going to need an executive recruiter. But,they’re expensive, right? Well, yes and no. Think about this scenario.

You’re at your desk working on apresentation. One of your Product Managers stops at your door asking for a fewminutes of your time. You invite her in to have a seat. After a few minutes ofsmall talk, she tells you she’s leaving your company and hands you herresignation letter. While you’re a bit shocked and disappointed, you understand.She has an incredible opportunity to grow her strategic career at one of yourcompetitors, and at a salary you can’t possibly match. After a few more minutesof chatting, she leaves your office and you begin to realize how truly valuableof a strong product manager she was to your company overall and the team.You’ll need to replace her quickly to avoid any significant downtime. Thankfully,you have some alternatives.

The first option is to divide her workamong two or three other product personnel to make certain no criticaldeliverables are missed. This will undoubtedly add to their workload and hours;and that in turn, may compound the problem prompting them to leave as well.

Second, you could promote someone onthe team who believes they’ve proven them self. However, in doing so you may increasethe chance of losing others who are equally convinced they were overlooked for thispromotion they perceived was also justly deserved; only exacerbating theproblem further.

Third, you could place an ad in a trade publication or website seeking an executive to replace her. While this may seem like the best solution, a couple of other issues will very well soon arise. Like, how long will it take to review the stack of submitted resumes; most of which are not even worthy of a nano-second of consideration.  Next, how many candidates do you interview? If you’re like most, you’ll have continual lingering doubts about all the candidates and in hopes that someone absolutely perfect magically presents themselves. The issue here is most successful executives have their head down and aren’t actively looking and applying for new roles. Or, what if the candidate you select accepts a counteroffer? You’re back to Square One; losing all that valuable time. Regardless of which path you choose, all will take down a road that is a departure from your current responsibilities.

And fourth, contact a recruiter toconduct the search on your behalf. It’s critical to work with a headhunter who clearlyunderstands product management and you industry–and most importantly,your company. This may require paying a bit more, but in the long run, it willbe time and money well spent. And, there are some significant benefits ofhiring an external recruiter.

Like any company providing a service, hiringa recruiting firm costs money. While you might be reluctant to pay for aservice you can do yourself, remember they’re doing some things behind thescene steps (finding candidates, reviewing resumes, vetting applicants, debriefingboth parties after interviews, checking references, and negotiating compensation).All of which allows you to do other things that also require your time and attentionthat ultimately could make you money.

No doubt employee turnover isexpensive, but hiring the wrong person can be quite detrimental…lost time,resources, morale, etc. A good recruiter always focuses on the quality—not thequantity—of candidates. They’ve been industry long enough, and talked withenough executives, they have the wherewithal and the resources to know where tolook while digging deep to find the best possible candidate(s).

It’s also important to rememberexecutive recruiters are outsiders looking in. Their unbiased point of view canprove beneficial many times over. Including finding someone whose working atyour competitor’s company that’s busy doing their job rather than looking foranother job.

Other benefits recruiters provideinclude the willingness and ability to ask tough questions. Thereby getting themost meaningful insights in terms of candidate’s personal claims. Candidates oftenare more direct when speaking with recruiters about often difficult topics likeextended gaps between jobs, layoffs, terminations, and current compensation.

Skilled recruiters will eliminate thosewho may not have the ideal personality or qualifications that are necessary to besuccessful. Conversely, they may be aware of other candidates who are not be onyour radar screen for whatever reason, yet maybe well-qualified.

In addition, in the course of seeking for candidates, a strong recruiting partner will often unearth industry information (new product launches, mergers, key executive transitions, possible new business leads, and the like) that could prove lucrative to you. Recruiters can be a great resource to finding out what’s happening in the industry. Most are recruiters are willing to share these insights with their best clients.

Another reason that a headhunter may beworthy of your money, since they’re being compensated to identifying the idealperson, it’s essential they keep all parties involved satisfied. So, if theselected candidate doesn’t work out for whatever reason, in the mutually agreedtime frame (usually from 90 to 180 days depending on the level of theexecutive), most credible recruiters will offer some sort of a guarantee—whetherit be a replacement or a partial credit toward another search.


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