If you want to land a job at your dream digital product company, you have to understand what employers look for.
The secret to playing your cards right lies in knowing how to pitch yourself to employers. The market is the busiest it has been in over two years. More people are applying for roles, so you need to stand out to the companies you’re applying for.
However, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. Many people underestimate how much effort it takes to get a job. You can get stuck in a rut if you don’t take the right steps.
Don't fall into this trap. Let me share my best tips as someone who has been recruiting in the digital product space since 2009.
Do you try to outline everything you’ve done in your CV? Or send the same CV to every role you apply for?
I see these mistakes happen way too often. You need to remember what your CV is actually for:
“ Your CV has one role, and that’s to get you into the interview.”
To do that, you need to highlight the experience that is relevant to the job you’re applying for. It shows that you have thought about your skills and taken the time to understand the role.
Remember who the reader is. People fall into the trap of thinking that the person reading their CV has the same skills as them. They could, but it could also be a CEO, a Talent Director or a recruiter.
Everyone has varying levels of knowledge - they may have hired candidates in your particular field and understand the job, or they may not. That’s why you need to make sure that the basics are obvious.
Look at the job description and make sure the key skills they are asking for are in your CV.
The crux of your CV is your experience section. The best practice is to separate your job achievements from your responsibilities, so you can quickly create a strong narrative about why you’re the right person for the job.
Achievements show the impact you’ve made. Listing them in your CV can also highlight your main strengths - which is important when applying for any position.
These can be delivery of a specific product, increase in the user base, but the best ones are focused on commercial outcomes. They answer the question: ‘What was the commercial impact of the achievement?’. That way, your reader will be able to translate this commercial element into their own business. It gives you a far greater chance of being included in the interview process.
Responsibilities are about what you were doing in a specific role. It’s easy to put a tremendous amount of content here, but try not to. It’s important you use this as an opportunity to tell a story and create a narrative to help engage the reader in a concise way.
One of my candidates had an experience in product through his own business but hadn’t done it in an any other role.
Here are some changes they made on their CV:
If you go into the interview without ever using the product, clients and recruiters will see it as lazy. They want to hire someone who has a high level of curiosity where they want to download the product and see how it works. If it’s a B2B business, email the person who’s arranging interviews and ask them to give you some sort of trial so you can experience it.
There you will find out the funding the company has received, when has it received, who were the VCs, are there any recent product launches or any other news. This can also help by arming you with some relevant small talk that breaks the ice and sets you apart.
Look at the background of the person you are meeting on LinkedIn. Look for common connections. Check the company out too. See if you can get an understanding of the structure of the company by looking at people in it.
They will know what’s important.
For behavioural questions (“Tell me about a time when…”), I always recommend the STAR framework. It naturally creates a narrative, allowing you to tell a meaningful story about your previous work experience. It also prevents you from blabbing on and helps you give a focused answer.
Situation - Set the scene and try to be as specific as you can - When did this situation happen? Who was the company? Who were the stakeholders? What was the structure of the team you were in? What was your role?
Task - What was the problem? What was your responsibility? It’s best to actually say “The problem was…” to create the structure.
Action - Explain exactly the steps YOU took to address it. It’s about what you did - they are not looking at hiring your team.
Result - What were the outcomes of your actions? Ideally, you made some commercial impact on the business - saved or made money. If you can bring that into your answer, it is going to carry so much more weight.
“ It’s hard to know exactly which questions you will get. But to avoid trying to come up with examples on the spot, make sure you create a bank of different interview answers ready to go. This is going to make you feel way more comfortable and far more prepared for interviews.
Here are the 6 most common ones:
Never underestimate the importance of your questions for the interviewer. Avoid questions you can find answers for in the job description or the website. It’s lazy and doesn’t show a level of commitment.
Here are some that I suggest:
Did you know that over 70% of roles available in the market are not advertised? That’s why just applying to already posted jobs is not the only way to go.
Being a proactive job seeker means that you’re scouting out opportunities before they ever grace a job board or company website (link). This creates more opportunities for you, less competition, and helps grow your network.
Here are top 5 tips I have for you:
Author: Nick Charalambous, Co-Founder & Director at Few&Far