Product Marty Cagan

Where To Work?

It’s no secret that first due to the pandemic, then due to the economy, many people in many different industries have been furloughed or their companies have shut-down.  This has impacted product people as well.  Where just recently, a strong product person had their choice of great options, today the landscape looks quite different.  

Hopefully this will be temporary, but in any case many people have been asking me which companies are great places for product people to work?

Especially because many people realize that they are currently working on a feature team, and they really want to learn how to do true product management as part of an empowered product team.

I have shared publicly the names of several excellent companies that are built on true product teams.  Google, Netflix, Amazon, Stripe, Atlassian and Apple are some of the well-known names.  And there are many excellent startups and growth-stage companies, far too many to list.

However, I always try to point out that even at the strongest product companies, not every team is an empowered product team.

But what matters more than the company, is the person you would be reporting to.  

That is especially true if you are relatively new to product management, and/or have never worked at a company that is strong at product.

So I encourage people looking for a good position to do their homework.  They should find out who the hiring manager is, and use LinkedIn to see where they have worked, and if you know anyone that knows this manager, ask what they are like.

When you’re interviewing, make clear to the hiring manager that you are there because you want to learn from her, and that you’re willing to put in the necessary effort, if she is willing to help you become exceptionally strong at your job.  

Realize that even if the manager has the knowledge and ability to coach you, she may not have the time, so she may be looking for someone more experienced.  But most hiring managers would love someone that has strong potential, is very serious about their career, and is willing to put in the effort.

But be warned that hiring managers at strong product companies generally take the staffing responsibility very seriously, and they expect strong candidates.  Be sure you’ve done your homework both on what strong product managers are responsible for, and on the company, products and leaders you’d be working for.

It’s not very hard to spot how a company works during an interview.  If you have never worked in a strong product company before, and you need some help on what to look for, I’d suggest you review the series of articles on the before and after of transformation.  Just remember that no company is perfect so don’t be unrealistic, but at least you should know what you’re getting into.

Another pro tip is to read the book Never Search Alone and take advantage of the advice in there.