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Is the Time Right to Hire a Product Manager in Vancouver?

During our 20 years helping build tech start-ups, we've experienced recruiting across multiple countries, time zones, currencies, and economic conditions.

Need a quota crushing AE in Calgary to sell to the oil & gas vertical? We’ve done that! Need a connected wearables CPO in Amsterdam or a Presales Engineer in Houston who comes from the retail industry and can talk shop about price optimization and merchandise replenishment systems, well, we’ve done those as well!

Need a Senior Product Manager in Vancouver? First things first … why?

While we have and continue to find candidates in every geography, understanding the why behind every hiring decision is essential. These answers will help to break down assumptions or potential barriers that could be affecting the best hiring outcome. 

Say you’re a tech company in Toronto and you've contacted us with the following hiring problem: "I need to hire a Product Manager in Vancouver." Maybe you do, maybe you don't. Breaking down the reasons why Vancouver is viewed as an essential piece to the hiring puzzle could make all the difference in your ability to land a hire that drives your product forward. 

Here are a few real-world location-based hiring scenarios we’ve seen startups face: 

Scenario #1

The only inbound talent (i.e. online applicants) are local applicants from Toronto/GTA. Unfortunately, their skills and experiences are not what you need.

Or maybe you also hired a contingency recruiter, but they are only showing you candidates from their pool of immediately available people. This pool also does not have the right skills or experiences.

To top it off, you've been at this for 6 months and still no hire, so in frustration, you decide you need to find fresh people in a fresh market because no one in Toronto/GTA seems to have what you need.

Given this scenario, we applaud you for being open to hiring from other major cities across Canada, including Vancouver.

However, given the approach you've taken: (a) inbound efforts from job boards and/or (b) a contingency recruiter showing you their immediate limited supply, you may not actually require a Vancouver-based hire.

Based on potential time zone differences and issues, the obvious choice is a candidate in your time zone given how cross-functional a role product management is. Between the GoTrain and ViaRail lines which cover London to Montreal, surely someone in a more similar, or same time zone is qualified and interested. 

Also, until a very targeted outbound search focused on identifying and pursuing candidates whose skills and experiences align to your requirements is completed in the surrounding and time zone-friendly areas - you could not say that an exhaustive search was actually completed. 

If do you both of the above and after all that, the talent you need is (a) not in the area or (b) not enticed enough to join, then it is the correct time to expand recruitment to another city like Vancouver.

Scenario #2

While you (a CoFounder & CEO) are based at HQ in Toronto, your CoFounder & CTO is based in Vancouver and they have built an engineering and QA team in BC.

You already have a Product Manager in Toronto who is a generalist with a business degree. They are great at the client-facing meetings, engaging with the market, customers, and partners as well as understanding what the roadmap needs to add value and ROI to clients. But, and this is a big one, they have zero credibility with the west-coast engineering team. 

You've identified you need a Technical Product Manager who will work closest with the team in BC to make sure they're hitting the deliverables. Given this scenario, we wholeheartedly agree this hire needs to be located in Vancouver. A BC-based Product Manager with engineering credibility is a wise hire and will accelerate the outcomes you are seeking.

Scenario #3

Your product is one of the first to market in its category and is expected to be a disruptor. Big bets are on you, from your VC, and the pressure is on to find a Product Manager who has the skills and experiences to get this thing launched and off the ground.

Compensation? Whatever it takes. Location? Planet Earth. Timing of Hire? Yesterday. Given this scenario, we agree that Vancouver is a very viable option but it’s not wise to count out other metropolitans like Calgary, San Francisco, and NYC.

This is a common scenario for our team to find ourselves being engaged for - a Series A or B funded tech startup that needs one killer hire of a product person to figure it out, get to product-market fit, launch, gather data, and then begin iterating to build a scalable V1.

In these scenarios, speed is essential. Access to talent should not be held back to a single geography. Whether it's Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, or Boston, access to talent should drive the decisions and ultimately the success of the company.

Sometimes there are real geographical constraints when hiring but it’s important to break down the why and think through all hiring options before getting yourself stuck in one hiring geography. The world is opening up like never before and global product talent is abundant. 

Learn more about why the question ‘why' is even more critical when hiring your next VP Product