SVPMA Recruiter Panel

September Event Review: SVPMA Recruiter Panel

By Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah

September 2015 Event

On September 2, a panel moderated by Jeanne Lew, Associate Director at Haas School of Business, was very insightful for not only product management job seekers but also for all product managers on how to build strong profiles.  The panelists had very successful backgrounds ranging from startups to big companies, engineering to product management, and hardware to software.  It was a very interactive session with great participation from the crowd.  The following are some of the topics discussed.


Zachary Walter, Sourcing Lead – Product Management, UI/UX, bTech, Google

Mark Alfaro, Talent Market Strategist & Senior Recruiter, LinkedIn

Olga Ocon, Executive Recruiter – Community Building & Social Recruiting, [24]7 Inc.

Tom Brouchoud, Head of Talent Acquisition/Core Technology Division, EMC

Where do you find candidates?

Mark mentioned 50% of LinkedIn’s hires are from referrals and the rest from sourcing.  Tom and Zach both agreed that about 25-30% of their hires are from referrals and also a combination of sourcing and internal transfers.

Other advantages of referrals are 1) they are hired faster and 2) they stay longer.

Is it wise to spend more time working on resumes or networking to land at a dream job? 

Tom and Olga advise investing in building a strong resume, which represents the candidate accurately.  Networking and sharing your resume is certainly the next step in the job search.  Two tips on writing resumes are:

  1. Keep it under 1-2 pages
  2. Do not upload your entire resume on LinkedIn.  However, provide enough information to make recruiters curious.

What do you emphasize for your next PM position – a more technically oriented or a business oriented candidate?

All panelists collectively agreed that there is no such thing as “too technical.”  At LinkedIn, prioritization and experience working with UX teams are increasingly becoming key points in hiring PMs.  At Google, the top two requirements for PM are product vision and ability to interact with engineering.

With a combined background of hardware and software, Tom emphasized that demarcation between hardware and software is fading.  So, those that are capable of understanding both worlds resulting in a overarching solution customers are looking for, will win the race.

Has the product manager’s role changed over the last decade? 

Olga recalled how companies were focused on either technical or marketing talents.  And, over the last decade how important the PM role has become.

Zach mentioned that internal mobility is encouraged at Google.  That brings in PMs from various different backgrounds.

I observe two strong pieces of evidence that support their statements:

  1. The Chief Product Officer role is becoming increasingly popular and powerful
  2. More and more CEOs of startups have PM backgrounds as opposed to sales backgrounds common in the 1990’s and earlier

What are the skills PMs need to develop in the next 3-5 years in order to keep up with industry trends?

Tom made a very important statement that going forward, it becomes even more important for PMs to become product evangelists.  Understanding industry trends, abilities to influence cross-functional areas, cross-geographies and cross-cultures will become even more crucial.

On the tactical side, Mark mentioned mobile technology is becoming the go-to platform for all types of businesses.  So, learning mobile technology will definitely help.

What are some tips to improve your LinkedIn profile?

  1. Having a professional profile picture is very essential.  Profiles without a picture may not get rendered in several searches such as “People you may know.”
  2. Eye catching titles will get more attention than usual company titles
  3. Recommendations are very helpful

Additional questions from the audience

Q: How is a scrum Product Owner viewed when applied for a PM role?

A: Though Product Owner role is considered more tactical as opposed to strategic, experience running scrum teams weighs in heavily when looking for PM candidates.

Q: How can I move from being a B2C to B2B PM?

A: Focusing on capabilities is key when applying for a B2B position instead of highlighting industry specific experience.  It may become easier if one can join a company that has both B2B and B2C components.  This may open doors faster to move from one to another area.

Q: Does consulting experience hurt when looking for a full time PM position?

A: Having a versatile background is very advantageous.  When it comes to presenting experience in a resume, it helps to cluster all short term consulting jobs under a single role as a consultant instead of expanding roles in each company.

Q: Usually, PM positions require extensive experience in various fronts. How can new grads get into a PM role?


  1. Develop your own app.  This helps demonstrate leadership and execution skills.
  2. Attend hackathons.
  3. Consider the Google APM program.

Q: Do recruiters review cover letters? Is it even important to write one?


  1. Resume is what recruiters spend more time on
  2. Write a cover letter only if it provides additional context

Q: Is it advisable to work for both small and big companies or choose one versus the other?


  1. A variety of experience contributes heavily in performing a PM role successfully.
  2. Working for startups where PMs truly work like product CEOs will help significantly.

Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah
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Resources: Cracking the PM Interview (video)Cracking the PM Interview (book)Business Model GenerationThe Algorithm Design ManualEscape VelocityThe Design of Everyday Things,

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