Young girl with glasses sat at a desk holding up the letter R. In front of her on the desk is paper, a laptop and a pot of colouring pencils. Image is for the head of the hiring a product manager article.

Written by:
Matt Davies

Hiring your first Product Manager? Here’s what you need to know

Hiring your first product manager is one of the most important hires you’ll make, so it’s crucial you nail it the first time.

As a founder of a start-up/scale-up, you have to wear so many different hats. But there comes a time when you have to pass some of them on to a new hire.

You’ll probably be at pains to do so – it’s often not before time. But to make the ground that you want and need to, it’s entirely necessary.

Is now the right time to hire a Product Manager?

If you’re finding yourself asking that question, the answer is almost definitely: yes!

Perhaps you’ve started to notice some bottlenecks in the back end of your business or you’re unable to stay across all the fine details.

I hardly need to tell you how important it is that you get things moving again to ensure that customers are kept happy and your product continues to evolve.

Before posting your job advert…

Having decided now is the right time to bring on board a product manager, take stock before you post your advert.

Here are some things to think about:

The first thing you need to do is assess your current business challenges. There are three key questions you need to answer:

  • What do you need to grow or deliver? If you’re intent on growing, you’ll need someone who will need little in the way of mentoring, freeing you up to concentrate on other areas of the business.
  • Do you need someone to create a product roadmap, or do you just need someone to deliver on one? If it’s the former, you’ll need a more experienced product manager, who could potentially build up a team of junior product managers around them.
  • How technical do you need them? If you have a highly technical product, you may want to look for a product manager who was a software engineer in a previous life (this will save a huge amount of everyone’s time!).

Now you know who you’re looking for, you need to have some very specific goals, tasks and measurables in place before meeting with prospective product managers. This will ensure you know exactly what you need to hire for, the profile of the person to hire, and that you can properly manage this new person.

Finally, do you need someone with industry experience? Hiring someone that has industry experience can save you up to three months as they’re able to jump into the role head first and get on with the job. However, it’s always worth looking at a generalist. They can often open up new avenues by joining the dots and introducing transferable new ideas from other industries.

Granted, there’s a lot to think about before hiring your first product manager.

Need a hand understanding what you need from your first product manager hire? I’m always happy to offer advice and support. You can contact me here.