Meet this week’s Humans of Product, Jun Leong, a Product Recruiter working in Singapore. Jun, an introvert in nature, spends his time off (or as he calls it “distress time”) watching TV shows and playing video games. The Product industry is overwhelming at times with clients and candidates reaching out 24/7 across the APAC region, but Jun finds it to be an extremely fulfilling job. He mentions “If you watch ‘Selling Sunset’ on Netflix, it does somehow resemble the agent life that I am living now.”
“I never imagined myself to be a Talent Scout in Product Management. After 5 years of University, I graduated with an Architecture degree and spent 3 years working as an Architectural Designer. Naturally, I expected that Architecture would be my career in life. I guess when you’re being put in the wrong direction, you start to doubt yourself every day. It took me a year to weigh up whether I should throw away 8 years of my Architecture efforts. Guess what? In 2018, I gave myself a career change and moved into recruitment. I was covering various roles including Finance and Accounting, Software Engineering, the list goes on. I was doing well but I hadn’t yet felt inspired. I remember when I interviewed with Eames Consulting through a Recruiter to Recruitment (Rec2Rec), it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had. Where I am now, I am inspired every day to do a job I love.
Luke Eeles, the Partner at Eames Consulting told me that they are not hiring people because that desk needed to be filled, instead they wanted their consultants to choose their own desk so that they have the capability to create a business from there. That sold to me. It showed that the company listened to their people. I still remember after the interview, I called my Rec2Rec and told them to do whatever they could to get me that job! I eagerly wanted to be a part of that team. Needless to say, I got the job.
I am still at the early stages of my Product Management recruitment journey. There is so much to learn and products are ever-changing in the market. Right now, we have a few mainstream verticals like growth work, feature work, scaling work, and market expansion work. I would not be surprised if more sub-verticals appear in the next 3-5 years.
I am in a great place now within the Product Management industry. I have met some amazing Product folks like Adrienne Tan and Michael Ong who have had a profound impact on me. These people are by far the most inspiring individuals I have ever spoken with. I have also established a few very good connections with Product Leaders. They turned from clients and candidates into really good friends, and we often catch up over a drink to keep each other updated. These Product leaders are always on top of the upcoming trends, and quite often as a talent scout, I get a lot of first-hand news. Likewise, they like to share their new initiative approaches with me. These leaders are extremely humble. I now know their secret for retaining people. People generally follow these leaders!”
Jun is also a Product Career Coach. He works on laying out the best possible options for Product Managers so they can design a career path.
“I didn’t know I was a Product Coach until a candidate told me about it. Then I started to reflect on my daily work and realised that I have done a lot more than just calling candidates to introduce a new role to them. From my years in the Recruitment space, I have learnt that being transactional will not elevate my career, nor will it help the candidate. If I were to be transactional, I might be doomed because I might ruin someone’s career because of my own interest.
I communicate with at least 5-8 product folks every day and am quite comfortable telling my candidates to walk away from clients if I deemed the role to be a poor choice for them. In exchange, my retention rate has been very healthy simply because I listen to my candidates. I believe it is a good decision for my clients as well. It is a painful process to onboard someone just to find out that they’re the wrong match after only a few months down the road.
Generally speaking, I share the possible options with a candidate, based on their prior career experience. Then, we do a brainstorming session together to align their goals and their capabilities. I will usually introduce them to certain industries or domains that could help to elevate their experience.
A key tip that I give candidates is to not be desperate. A job is a job. What is important is being inspired every day when you wake up. Acknowledge the red flags in the job, and discuss them with the company.”
His main advice for those wanting to break into Product Management is to “Be resilient, be bold and be creative!”.
“This profession has so much potential and opportunities ahead. I guess a lot of Product folks come in with the wrong impression of the role. They think it will be easy to take on. In fact, it is probably one of the toughest jobs in the market, but you’ll get to shed your shell and grow into a person who can balance between ideas and facts, creative and business!“
And as a Product Professional who loves making an impactful difference on others, Jun shared what change he would like to bring to the Product world.
“I am looking forward to building up a talent incubation lab to supply to the world one day! I want to continue to support talented Product individuals in the market, not just within Singapore or South East Asia, but across the globe. Ultimately, this will result in better products.”