Product Career: Getting The Perfect Job
Asana Board Member on Building A Product Career (PART 3)
During my product career, the single most important thing about every role I’ve had is the people around me. If an experience is good or bad, a big part of it is due to who you work with. This means you have to start with yourself first.
It pays to design your life around 4 things:
- Work – How fulfilling is it?
- Play – Do I have time to do the things I really love?
- Love – How deep are my relationships with the people I care about?
- Health – Am I caring for my body?
A lot of people think, “If I just got that next job or got promoted, everything will be great.” From my own experience, if you’re not healthy in all four aspects, a product job alone won’t do it for you. The people part of the equation starts with you.
Once you have yourself centered, you can look out for companies that fit you in terms of:
Do You Need a Mentor?
It’s hard to find one product person who can answer everything. Instead, you can look for role models, advocates and coaches.
A role model doesn’t have to be super successful or influential. For example, when I was at eBay, I was one of the few people that had a child. So I looked for other parents who seemed to be managing well, and I asked them a lot of questions. Go pick their brain about best practices and stuff to avoid.
An advocate is someone who speaks on your behalf when you’re not in the room. Good hard work isn’t always enough. This might not be due to bad intentions, but visibility makes a difference. So, share what you’re doing with people that matter – and they will advocate for you. It’s not self-promotion – it’s exchanging ideas and getting feedback.
Coaches are great as well. They exist in every field (not just in product), amd they can make a difference. Honesty counts – and you must seriously consider any feedback a coach gives you. It’s hard to be critical of yourself, so hire a coach.
Final Product Lessons Lived
- Take the recruiter call. It’s a discovery process. You’ll learn about the market, compensation and what companies look for.
- You can always negotiate. This is especially important for women and people of color.
- A product mindset creates opportunities. I’ve gotten jobs just because founders wanted someone with a product mindset.