Salary Insights: Demystifying Product Manager Compensation, Part Three [Video Series]

Watch Part Three of our new video series, where our Senior Product Management recruiter, Heidi Ram, shares the trends she's seeing in Product Manager salaries. This video is perfect for candidates who may be considering their next opportunity. If you are looking to build out your Product team (or retain the great talent you already have), this series will be a valuable resource for your compensation discussions. If you missed them, watch the Introduction, Part One, and Part Two and stay tuned for the final video tomorrow!



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Well this is an aside from our video series and I am talking to you: the Senior Product Manager who has done a fantastic job. In fact, you’ve done everything you were hired to do, you’ve released product, you’ve built a business, and you feel that you are ready for the next step. 

In fact when you and I speak soon, you are going to make a point of telling me you only want my phone call if I'm recruiting for a VP, a Director or a Head of Product role because that's what you want to do next.

Well I’m rooting for you, I want that for you also. I want you to live your dream, I want you to be successful, and I want you to run Product at a tech company in Toronto. Here are some things to think about as you search for that next opportunity.

Number one: it's really hard to make that transition from being an individual contributor to the next level. It's hard to do that outside of the company who you work for. The general sort of thinking is that if your own employer won’t promote you, why would anyone else give you that opportunity? You actually are a high risk hire. When you’re thinking about all of the other candidates who you’re competing with, and I can assure you those candidates are Directors or Vice Presidents, sometimes even Chief Product Officers, the unfortunate state of the Toronto technology scene right now is that there simply are not enough leadership roles for all of the great candidates who are either in the market or are ready to make a move to their next role because maybe their product is done, its matured, its moving into maintenance, and those folks are actively looking and are ready and looking to make their next move. That's the community who you are competing with. People who are already in that job and for that employer many times, they are a low risk hire. And they’ve done the job that they are being hired to do. 

So what can you do? How can you move up into that next level? Well this is the advice that I give to candidates in your situation. 

Number one: book a meeting with your boss. Does your employer know what your aspiration is? Do they know it is your desire to be a Head of Product, whatever that title is called? They need to know that in case they’re thinking about adding that role into their company and might consider you as a viable candidate. 

But more important than that is that you don’t want to go into that meeting all about you and telling them what you want. You want to seek their counsel and their feedback about you. Would they consider you for that role if it were available, and why and why not? What are the opportunities that they’ve identified you still need to develop so that you are ready for that role should it become available in your company? How do they want you to contribute to the business that maybe you haven’t even thought of, and maybe you’re not contributing in the way they would want you to if you were to step into that next level of responsibility. 

Are there projects that you could undertake in your firm to instil confidence to the leadership that you’re not just one of a certain peer group that you’re actually now ready to become part of that senior leadership team. 

Talk to your boss, listen to their feedback, be open to critique, and work on it. Show them that you’re committed. Be the best person, be the best employee that you can be in the job that you’re in, and work towards getting promoted internally. 

Yes that's going to be hard, and yes you’re going to be stretched, and that might be a really uncomfortable conversation. But guess what, you know what's equally hard? When someone gives a chance on you in a role that you’ve never had and now you are up to your neck having to learn and do the job. That's tough, and when you have allies around you at your current employer, people who have confidence in you, people who are rooting for you, don’t you think that it will be easier for you to achieve those milestones and those goals in that team of support that you’re in today, then in an entirely new business where you don't know anybody and they’re maybe even skeptical as to why didn't they get the job that you got. Think about it. So have that talk with your employer, be stretched, and do the best job that you can.

The other thing is that, think about companies where you could add immediate value and contact that Founder, that leader directly. 

It's very difficult to move out and up with a recruiter, leveraging a recruiter, because let's face it, recruiters are paid, our companies are hired, to present candidates to an employer who meet their requirements. And if I am recruited, sorry, if I am hired, if the services of Martyn Bassett Associates are engaged to help a company hire a Head of Product, most likely the requirements that I, Heidi, am working against include only presenting candidates who have done the job before. So that rules out anyone who wants to do it. I am under the gun to present candidates who actually have. 

You might have an easier time going out and up if you have a personal relationship with a CEO or a Founder who is willing to take a chance on you because maybe there is some history or maybe you work for a competitor, and they that know you can add immediate value to what they’re trying to accomplish. 

I hope this has been helpful. I want to see you live your dream. I want to see you successful running product if you are not already doing that.

If you have any questions about this, do shoot me a message and I am happy to talk it through with you.


Are you getting ready to hire a Product Manager? We've created a free checklist to help you refine your requirements, plan the interview process, and get aligned on competitive compensation. 

Click here to download your free checklist