James Austin, our Principal Researcher, joined Intelligent People in June 2021. After graduating with an Accounting & Business Management degree from the University of Gloucestershire, James completed work experience with reputable brands including Unilever, Cushman & Wakefield and Knight Frank, before joining us to start off his recruitment career.

Let’s get to know James

You’ve been at Intelligent People for just over a year now. Tell us a bit more about your role and what you do day-to-day?

The first thing I will do each day is run through my emails and action anything that has come in overnight. As a rule of thumb, I always keep my inbox as clear as possible to ensure I react to any inbound leads or enquiries from candidates quickly. My current role is a combination of resourcing quality candidates for my clients, across all levels and salaries, whilst also researching different market sectors for our ever-growing executive search offering.

The part of the day that I enjoy the most is getting on the phone to clients and candidates alike, ensuring the smooth running of all my recruitment projects and processes.

What do you love most about your job?

The main thing I love about my job is the the ability to engage and interact with amazing people every day. I am able to talk to and support individuals in making career-defining moves. The satisfaction of placing the right candidate in the ideal role, where both candidate and client are happy with the outcome and excited for the future, gives me the job satisfaction that keeps me returning to the office everyday.

When shortlisting CVs for a role, what makes a certain CV stand out to you? What do you look for?

When shortlisting CVs, I’m looking for a candidate that has a solid, understandable and logical career trajectory. I am particularly looking for that continuous and common thread in their career to-date which often leads the candidate to specialise into one area; a market niche where they have strong domain knowledge. I can then easily match the candidates experience with my clients’ brief, and connect the two parties together.

How do you recommend candidates use LinkedIn to land their next role?

My top tip to any candidate is to complete your LinkedIn profile as much as you can and keep it up to-date. Often on LinkedIn, product managers include their job title, but often skip including a description of their role, which makes it hard for a recruiter to assess your compatibility for a particular vacancy. Putting a few lines of description, including some industry keywords, can really make your profile more noticeable and memorable to domain expert recruiters.

It also helps when candidates directly apply to roles using their LinkedIn profile, as it provides context to each of their roles and demonstrates their skillsets. Also make sure you keep your skills section up-to-date, including more niche skills and technical competencies can really help to make you stand out.

What is the biggest mistake that candidates make during the recruitment process? What advice do you give to them along the way?

The biggest mistake I see from candidates is where they do not take sufficient time to complete their due diligence and research into a company or product. A failure to thoroughly research leads to a candidate being ill-informed and not able to fully express how they would optimise, grow or develop the current product portfolio effectively.

We prep and offer advice to candidates on the interview process; how to tackle each stage, what the employer is looking for and what will help you stand out at interview.

We continuously take feedback and stay close to candidates whilst they progress through the recruitment process to ensure we have a well-rounded understanding of a candidates situation.

What are the top 3 things that employers are looking for from product management candidates today?

  1. The ability to think strategically but remain hands-on
  2. Cross-functional and strong stakeholder management skillsets
  3. Evidence/business case/data led decision-makers

What advice do you give to employers throughout the hiring process?

From the outset we can advise on candidates salary and benefit expectations in line with the current market, to ensure employers are paying the right level for the right quality of candidate.

We also assist employers in terms of the make-up and construct of their interview processes, to ensure they’re not onerous for candidates and ensure a smooth and positive candidate experience. Typically we advise a 1st stage with the hiring manager, then a 60-90 minute interview for a task/presentation, followed by a 3rd stage interview with senior stakeholders.

Throughout the interview stages we provide employers with feedback on each of the candidates, both their thoughts on the process and updates on other processes/situations they may be in.

If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?

Friendly, diligent and professional.

James Austin