Hiring a product manager in Armenia

Illustration by Eduard Kankanyan

I should start this article with a very deep Batman type of voice in a way, rappers usually start their songs and say:

“This article is for all the product managers and the product manager hiring managers of Armenia. Stefaaaaan featuring Spanish imigrants in Nepal records. Let’s go”.

I should not probably write this article and I never wanted to cover Armenia. To be honest, the reason why I started this whole thing is to help product managers from any part of the world grow, but there is so much to say about the product management market and product managers' hiring process that I could not stop myself from doing this. So for all of you who are not interested in the Armenian product management market, can easily select the skip button, and for all of those who are saying: “What the hell is Armenia?”. Here is the link.

Also before we move on, would like to highlight the following fact, that I have been hiring product managers and product designers every single day for the last year and a half.

Some stats about product managers in Armenia

I hope everyone knows what product management is in software engineering. If not, then sorry not going to cover it, but there is a technology that exists slightly less than 30 years called “search engine”, definitely recommend using it. You may learn what is “Vitruvian Man”, how long it takes to learn Spanish in 3 days and what are bagpipes needed for.

So… Let’s start with the easy one.

How many product managers are there in Armenia?

Well according to Linkedin data, there are 600 product managers currently working or looking for work. This is considering all seniority levels from associate/junior product managers to senior product managers.
Some of you probably say: “Wow that many?”

Considering that there are approximately 15k to 20k employees in the software and hardware engineering sector, that’s just roughly 4 to 5 % of the whole engineering market.

How many product managers’ open positions are there?

Apart from this, over the last month, there are 25 open positions of product managers without considering the seniority level. If we want to calculate the same number for a year and we assume that product management demand will only grow over time, so we can probably say something around 100 to 200 product managers are going to be needed annually. I maybe exaggerated the number a bit, but I guess that’s still fine. Why? Because we have 600 product managers in the market.

How many product managers are considered good?

One more thing based on my experience is that good product managers are really a rare thing (The reason behind, maybe Armenia’s education system or its absence, but let’s not go there), so rare that I personally think that only 5% of all those 600 can be considered a good product manager, who are data-driven or have worked with data, can really solve problems of the customers, know what product vision, strategy, and roadmap are. I specifically don’t want to say senior, but good, because good means good at the current level the one is.

Some stats about product managers in Western European countries

I wanted to bring to your attention, what is happening in the Western European countries, where the market is more mature.

How many product managers are there in Western Europe?

36k product managers without considering the seniority level.

How many product managers’ open positions are there?

Approximately 100k product managers’ open positions last year.

How many product managers are considered good?

Let’s assume it is the same 5%. Although some product leaders think it is around 1% of all the market.

(The data is taken from Linkedin).

You can clearly see that Western Europe has a bigger problem of recruitment comparing to Armenia.

Hiring a product manager in Armenia

If we have fewer open positions than product managers in the market, then:

  • Why it is hard to hire product managers?

and/or

  • Why everyone is complaining about it?

The notion of product management in different companies

First of all, it is the notion of what product management is. Every single office has its own notion of what product managers should do. That is why some people have the title of IT project manager, program manager, project manager, innovation manager, and product manager, but they mostly do the same things on a daily basis. Or the opposite, which is the harder problem, people have the title of product manager, but what they really do is project management, process management, and so on. For all of you, who is not sure what you are, I would suggest reading the following book:

I guess this book should be read nationwide and should be part of the product manager's onboarding process in case you are an associate/junior or a mid-level product manager.

So, as you can clearly see, sometimes, the problem is that some don’t know who to hire.

Internal product managers’ network

The next thing, I want to talk about, in case your company knows what product management is, is your internal product people’s network. Your first product manager should be someone with a good network or should be someone who is really well aware of the market. This means, the one, who knows who does what in different companies or has good product friends and so on. The referral program can really facilitate this first product manager to actively start hiring, but in case the company is a really good one with great culture, then even the program is not needed in the initial stage. This is really good approach, because sometimes there are product managers, who don’t do self-branding, therefore really hard to find and your internal employees can be the key component here.

Hiring process

Last but not least, even if you do know what product management is and use the internal network, then sometimes what can stop product managers’ desire from joining the company is the hiring process. There are 19870 reasons what some companies do wrong, so I will just concentrate on what should be done correctly. Please note, that those are basic things and most of you know them, but still, I heard about these kinds of issues a lot.

  • Describe the job to a candidate in details
  • Make it a conversation and not an interrogation
  • Help a candidate to relax
  • Respect both your and your candidate’s time

There are lots of points, which are worth mentioning, but for the sake of the reading time, I guess you got the idea and can find out lots of literature about the right ways of hiring.

Luck

As harsh as it may sound, if you do all the above, then you will definitely be able to close some of the positions, but not all of the positions. Why? Because there is this 5%.

Then how to handle the luck?

Well, at some point the company should have an internal product managers preparation program, where employees of different roles can test themselves as product managers.

Final thoughts

I know this was not the longest article and there are lots of things you guys want to ask questions about, but at least I tried to help and give some small portion of knowledge. In case you have questions don’t hesitate to post comments or send me DM on my LinkedIn.

Head of Product @ SuperAnnotate | Love product management, my wife, and talking about stupid and crazy shit.

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