Talent Discovery, New Hires’ Progress, & PMs at OpenAI

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) Hiring Managers: Are you discovering the talent you seek?

2) Curious to know how new hires are adjusting to their roles.

3) Wonder why PMs are not on the OpenAI’s career list

Top Learning Resources:

1. How To Know If You’re Interviewing At A Product-Led Company

2. The Transition: Layering Sales Onto A Bottom-Up Self-Serve Product

3. Miro’s Product Alignment Approach

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Top Discussions

Question 1Hiring Managers: Are you discovering the talent you seek?

As a product manager with over a decade of experience across various sectors public corporations with 100K+ employees, I’ve seen it all. like platforms, B2C, and SaaS, and within companies ranging from Series B startups to public corporations with 100K+ employees, I’ve seen it all.

Interviews seem to go smoothly; I share pertinent professional stories in response to behavioral questions and often establish a strong rapport with interviewers. Yet, I frequently receive vague feedback citing a lack of domain expertise or specific Kanban experience—factors that weren’t deal-breakers at the initial stages with hiring managers or recruiters.

I’m reaching out to the hiring managers in this community: Apart from the clear-cut reasons such as failing a case study or offering insufficient professional anecdotes, what are some underlying reasons for rejecting candidates?

– Luis Nelson

Discussion

A] Utilize a variety of recruitment strategies, such as networking events and job boards, to attract top candidates with the skills and experience you desire. Consider partnering with industry organizations or universities to tap into a pool of qualified professionals in the field. While networking events and job boards can be effective in attracting candidates, partnering with industry organizations or universities may limit the diversity of candidates you are able to reach. Specialized recruitment services may also come at a high cost and may not necessarily guarantee finding the best fit for your company.

– Heather Kurtz

B] Is it possible that the hiring managers are looking for a candidate who not only has the required skills and experience but also fits well with the team culture or has a certain level of enthusiasm for the role? Could it be that they are seeking someone who shows potential for growth and development within the company? It may also be worth considering if there were any red flags or inconsistencies in your responses during the interview that may have raised concerns for the hiring managers. Taking a closer look at these potential factors could shed some light on why you may not have been selected for certain roles.

Reflecting on these considerations can help you better understand the decision-making process of hiring managers and potentially improve your chances of future job opportunities. It’s important to not only focus on your qualifications but also on how well you align with the company’s values and culture. Additionally, seeking feedback from the hiring managers can provide valuable insights and help you identify areas for improvement in your job search strategy. By taking a proactive approach and continuously learning from your experiences, you can increase your chances of securing a role that is the right fit for both you and the company.

– Marco Silva

C] Few questions that come to my mind are:

  • Could it be a lack of cultural fit or a misalignment of values?
  • Is there a disconnect in communication style or personality?
  • Are there unspoken expectations or biases that play a role in the decision-making process?

As a candidate, it can be frustrating to receive generic feedback that doesn’t provide a clear understanding of why we weren’t selected for a position. It’s important for hiring managers to provide constructive and specific feedback to help candidates improve and grow in their careers. Transparency and open communication can lead to a more positive and productive hiring process for both parties involved.
For example, a candidate may have been passed over for a promotion due to a perceived lack of leadership skills, but without specific examples or feedback, they may not understand how to improve in that area. By providing clear and actionable feedback, the candidate can work on developing those skills and potentially be considered for future opportunities within the organization. Open communication also helps build trust and understanding between the hiring manager and candidate, leading to a more collaborative and successful working relationship.

– Bina Campos

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Question 2) Curious to know how new hires are adjusting to their roles.

Seeking a dose of positivity is comprehensible, especially after experiencing layoffs at your company. It’s true; there are many stories about the difficulty of job hunting. However, it would be uplifting to hear about recent successes—those who have secured employment in the past three months or nearby, their industry, and their job title. Such stories can offer a glimmer of hope.

I’m really curious to hear your experiences.

– Marie Hamilton

Discussion

A] My company recently underwent layoffs, and although I was not impacted, many of my colleagues were. The leadership’s callousness and lack of empathy only reinforced my belief that companies have no regard for their employees.

Remember, you should always prioritize your own interests, because the company will certainly prioritize its own. It may be time to reassess your own career goals and consider seeking opportunities elsewhere that align better with your values and priorities. It’s important to prioritize your own well-being and job satisfaction in order to thrive in your professional life.

Don’t wait for the company to show you loyalty or consideration, take control of your career and seek out a work environment where you are valued and respected. Remember, you deserve to work in a place that appreciates your contributions and supports your growth and development. Don’t settle for a toxic work environment, explore your options and find a company that truly values its employees. Your career success and happiness should be a top priority, so don’t hesitate to make a change if necessary.

– Malcolm Sequeira

B] This open communication can also help identify any potential issues early on, allowing for quick resolution and a smoother integration process for new hires. It is important for companies to regularly check in with employees to ensure they are settling in well and addressing any concerns that may arise. Additionally, providing clear job descriptions and setting realistic goals can help set the stage for a successful onboarding process. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can also help address any issues early on and ensure a smooth transition for new hires.

– Whitney Chard

C] The prospect of trading a familiar situation (my current job offers excellent benefits) for an uncertain one is daunting. If my salary were more competitive, I would feel less inclined to consider leaving. However, my mental and emotional well-being are ultimately more important than any salary or benefit. I owe it to myself to seek out a work environment that uplifts and inspires me rather than drains and diminishes me. I deserve to feel fulfilled and appreciated in my career, and I will not settle for anything less. It may be intimidating to make a change, but the potential for growth and happiness far outweighs any temporary uncertainties. I am worth more than what my current job offers, and I am ready to find a company that truly values and supports me.

– Christie Dook

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Question 3) Wonder why PMs are not on the OpenAI’s career list

This observation is particularly intriguing given that OpenAI has reached Series F in its funding. It raises the question: what strategic reasoning might there be behind this hiring approach?

Would like your opinions on this please.

– Dhiraj Mehta

Discussion

A] Over the last year, I have seen a decrease in PM jobs. I’m not sure whether it’s because scrum and “being agile” are becoming less common in businesses, or if project management is becoming more and more integrated with product owner responsibilities, as many PM jobs are simply reimagined as such. Something is changing.

It may also be possible that companies are opting to outsource project management roles or utilize project management software instead of hiring full-time PMs. This shift in the job market could be indicative of broader trends in the industry towards more streamlined and efficient project management practices.

– Matthew Shun

B] It is disheartening to go through a thorough interview process at a big corporation only to be informed that they have found a better candidate after reviewing your references. When the hiring manager has already expressed positive reviews, this experience can be devastating. This situation raises questions about how companies handle their hiring processes, including their decision-making strategies.

Similarly, the observation that OpenAI is not recruiting for product managers (PMs) despite reaching Series F in its funding raises curiosity about their strategic reasoning behind this hiring approach. It is intriguing to explore why a company at such a stage of funding would choose not to prioritize recruiting for certain key roles like PMs. This situation prompts further inquiry into the decision-making processes and priorities of companies, shedding light on the complexities of hiring practices in different organizations.

– Bobby Duncan

C] There’s an increasing demand for Principal Product Manager roles, targeting individual contributors (ICs) with over a decade of experience. The trend of managing oversized organizations with mid-level PMs seems to be declining. Businesses are seeking seasoned builders who are hands-on and have a proven passion for technology, rather than those who pursue opportunities solely based on an MBA. It appears we’re shifting back to a standard where the ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’ are the fundamental value creators.

This shift in focus is evident in the job market, with more companies looking for individuals who have a deep understanding of the technical aspects of their products. The emphasis is now on finding product managers who can not only lead a team but also roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty when needed. This return to valuing technical expertise is a refreshing change from the previous trend of prioritizing managerial skills over technical know-how. As the industry continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how this shift towards technical proficiency shapes the future of project management.

– Kane Morgan

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Top Learning Resources

In Andrew Skotzko’s article, “How to know if you’re interviewing at a strong product company,” he addresses the growing concern among product professionals about finding a work environment conducive to building strong products. Skotzko emphasizes the importance of evaluating a company’s product culture during the interview process and avoiding the common pitfall of joining a company where good product work occurs in spite of dominant practices and culture, not because of them.

The Transition: Layering Sales Onto A Bottom-Up Self-Serve Product

In this comprehensive guide by Pete Kazanjy, founder of Atrium and author of “Founding Sales,” the focus is on strategically transitioning to integrate sales into a bottom-up, self-serve SaaS product. Kazanjy highlights the trend among successful bottom-up B2B companies, like Zoom and Slack, in eventually incorporating a sales team to boost revenue growth. He warns against delaying the addition of sales, citing missed opportunities seen in cases like Dropbox, where competitors with sales-assisted motions gained an advantage in lucrative enterprise segments.

Miro’s Product Alignment Approach

Miro’s Product Alignment Approach, introduced by Farbod Saraf, is a structured methodology designed to navigate the challenges of scaling product development in rapidly growing companies. At the core of this approach is the Product Alignment Document (PAD), a comprehensive artifact that evolves through different stages, namely Opportunity/Problem Framing, Solution Framing, and Post-launch Recap. In the Opportunity/Problem Framing stage, teams explore potential opportunities or existing problems without committing to specific solutions, emphasizing a high-level, open-minded approach.

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