Man posing next to car
Ethan Handel, Senior Product Manager, Austin

Ethan Handel is a Senior Product Manager at Indeed. He is based in Austin and works under the Data Platform Products organization. 

It was my fourth week as an associate product manager (APM) at Indeed. You might expect I’d spend a typical day getting acquainted with new challenges: asking questions, strategizing with my team, making connections with colleagues, analyzing user data, and brainstorming.

Instead, early on a Friday morning, I found myself in the back room of a local event center, sitting on a folding chair, drinking suspicious coffee, and waiting anxiously to meet someone. A moment later, an older gentleman walked into the room, looking more anxious than myself. He sat on the folding chair next to me and said:

“I need your help. I need a job. Honestly, I don’t know where to start.”

In that moment, I truly understood what it meant to be a product manager at Indeed.

Product managers at many software companies consistently collaborate with colleagues in all functions. We use data and creativity to ship code that solves their users’ problems. Among all our endeavors as product managers — wireframing data analysis, marketing, evaluating technology, conducting research, coaching team members — advocating for and deeply knowing our users is the most valuable thing we can do. Really.

Working with job seekers directly at Indeed was a light-bulb moment for me. Our product team collaborated with an organization dedicated to helping people struggling to find work. I was encouraged to spend time in my new role not only working at my desk but listening to users. The goal was to connect with individuals and experience the job search through their eyes. Our only agenda was to help a few job seekers with their journey. As simple as it sounds, this direct exposure to the experience of a job seeker outside of technologies, devices, MVPs, KPIs, and agendas would illustrate how we as a product team live Indeed’s mission: We help people get jobs.

Every month, over 250 million people use Indeed to find jobs. Indeed is the most popular job site in the world. The scale at which we operate allows us to ask big questions, leverage data, and experiment to help job seekers and employers. But our mission and our ability to impact users significantly aren’t the reasons why I believe Indeed’s product manager roles are unique. Over time, I learned three attributes are key to Indeed product management.

We Love Being Data-Driven

There isn’t a day as an Indeed product manager where I haven’t learned something new about how to help people find jobs using data insights. For me, this is endlessly rewarding.

Indeed product managers have an unofficial mantra: Data > Opinions > Inaction. We strive for expertise in using data to find insights, develop new ideas and solutions, and influence everyone we meet about the next big thing for our teams and Indeed’s users.

Data-driven products at Indeed aren’t one-dimensional: We leveragequantitative and qualitative methods regularly to get a full picture of the problems our users face. After all, understanding why is as important as what. This balance in approach is easy to say and more challenging to do, and applying it helps us solve and understand problems. I’ve written analyses in Python to uncover new behaviors. I’ve shadowed sales and customer success representative conversations to hear what it’s really like out there for employers. I’ve asked questions to formal panels of job seekers from vastly different industries. I’ve commissioned user research studies. This is how we do data-driven.

We’re into Trying New Things and Solving Problems Simply

Product managers at Indeed are fueled by innovation because it helps us continuously improve. Tellingly, innovation is one of ourfive company values:

We want to revolutionize the way people get jobs. We recognize that revolutionary ideas always seem crazy at first. Rather than “no,” we say, “I don’t know, let’s test it.” We remain humble about our success, and push ourselves to try new things. We expect to fail, a lot. But we learn from those failures, and open the door to new possibilities.

Product management at Indeed in that context is outstanding — combining the ingredients that allow us to pursue new ideas, be curious, and try things. Staying true to this value, I’ve created many new product features that start with “What if…,” and guide teams to make complete strategic shifts based on trying new ideas.

At every level from APM to leadership, Indeed product managers have the autonomy to ask big questions and lead product teams on the path from creating ideas, seizing opportunities, and owning team strategy through feature development. In a typical day, this could include working with world-class engineers to drive product impact through lean design principles, leading meetings with leadership from across the business, writing requirements for new initiatives, scoping A/B test experiments, and measuring success at every step of the way.

Product Expertise Permeates Indeed Globally

You’ll find Indeed product managers supporting all aspects of our business around the world, including Austin, Tokyo, Seattle, San Francisco, Singapore, and Hyderabad. We work on job seeker front-end sites, enterprise client tools, consumer-facing analytics experiences, recruiting and staffing services, virtual interview platforms…plus financial systems, data infrastructure, internal engineering tools, data science platforms (hey, that’s me!), and a lot more.

The users’ needs and the nature of the business problem shape our product managers’ experiences. We might bemanaging a platform to enable other Indeed teams. We could also be running a “mature startup” in Indeed Incubator. My journey has included everything from building analytics platforms used by thousands of employees to creating customer-facing tools through rapid iteration, working with teams in every one of our offices.

Other aspects shape what a product manager is at Indeed: how we collaborate with other PMs by default, how we create a data-driven and innovative hands-on experience with Indeed University, how we’re excited to learn from other product leaders every day, and more. No matter what our domain, as product managers at Indeed, we build the future of helping people get jobs.

Five years after my first direct job seeker experience, I’m now a lead data science product manager in our Internal Platforms group. I constantly think back to that light-bulb moment in order to inspire our team’s vision and use the perspective of the job seeker to deliver on enormous opportunities. We enable teams to efficiently use machine learning and deep learning to answer questions that will transform how people get jobs, and we build Indeed’s ability to measure our direct impact on hires.

My firsthand experiences continue to help determine whether we’re on the best development path. How can teams build models more quickly and with better quality? How will these capabilities be used to make finding the right job easier? How can product teams measure A/B testing outcomes on how many people were hired in the test groups? We consider these types of questions every day. And while considering, we recall helping someone we just met, as they faced one of their biggest life decisions.

This is product management at Indeed.

Learn more about Indeed’s Associate Product Manager (APM) Rotation Program on our website and through our blog.

View the original post on our product blog