Getting noticed at Microsoft…

Michael Swanson posted about his experience applying to Microsoft by sending a life-size foam cutout of himself. Cool story. It makes me think about having a "most interesting application" contest. You know...I don't want anything of monetary value, but if you were a marketing professional that applied in an unusual/creative way, it would certainly get my attention. And I have a big mouth so all of the other marketing recruiters would know about it too ; )

Just a thought.

Comments (7)

  1. As I noted last week (and apparently Gretchen agreed), getting noticed is one of the key steps to getting hired at Microsoft ( For me, though, it’s the second.

    If you get noticed, but have no relationship, you’re likely to become yet another Apprentice contestant: interesting, but ultimately not a hire.

    Believe me Heather, if I felt sending you a cutout of myself would mould your perception of me you’d have a dozen in the mail 😉

    Seriously though, whlie Michael doesn’t credit his little gimmick with his job, I’m sure it didn’t hurt as he definitely got over one of the biggest hurdles: getting noticed.

    Congrats to him on the job, and congrats to Microsoft on yet another good hire 🙂

  2. Ryan Kinser says:

    Does Microsoft HR look kindly at including an attached photograph (professional bust) with the resume package? (Not a full-sized photo either, : )…. a 3X5 )

  3. Heather says:

    Ryan, if you are talking about a headshot in your e-mail with your resume, don’t do it. It’s superfluous and recruiters see it as a little frivolous. Don’t put the picture on or in your resume either. It has absolutely NO bearing on the likelihood of getting called, it makes it harder to load or scan the resume. It’s also seen as a very outdated tactic. I still do see some people from European countries using it, though I don’t know how standard it is there. But I definitely do not recommend it for US based jobs.

    Recruiters don’t care how good looking you are…they just want to know whether you can do the job ; )

  4. Heather says:


    I think getting noticed by a recruiter, even if you don’t have a relationship with someone inside the company, can be good. We hire lots of people that don’t have those relationships. Of course, it helps if you have both. But if you don’t have the relationship, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t still try and get our attention.

    Not about moulding perception, just getting your resume to the top of the stack. We hear from candidates all the time that this is important to them…they want their resume to stand out. They want to feel that they have been considered. They worry that recruiting is a black hole. So this is what I was talking about.

    Just one tactic among many that a person could use to get an interview at Microsoft.

    Incidentally, we are really good about loading resumes up and searching our database actively. So even if a person isn’t hearing anything, they are being considered.

  5. Ryan Kinser says:

    Thank you for the advice, Heather, and thank you for calling me out on that one. I figured that I could try and use every asset possible. : )

    I typically prefer to mail a physical copy of the resume in the usual folder with reference letters and writing samples, etc…. but it seems as though Microsoft and many others prefer e-mail? Is it more of a hassle to mail a physical copy of the application package? It just seems more professional to me; I am worried about it being seen as a nuisance or troublesome, though.

  6. Heather says:

    Wow, good question Ryan. We actually do prefer the e-mail copy. Hardly anyone ever sends a hard copy anymore. If you were to send one, I would have to first take the time to route it to the people that do the scanning (no big deal, but mulitply times 6K per day if everyone did that) and that means it leaves my posession. Also, your resume has legs if you e-mail it. Then I can forward it for scanning, forward it to other recruiters, forward it to hiring managers and retain a copy. That’s all goodness. You’d be amazed how far an e-mail resume can go here. I’ve seen really long mail strings from clients trying to market a candidate that they think looks good to other groups inside MS.

    Want an e-mail resume to stand out? Ditch the cover letter and just add some bullet points with highlights of your background. Keep it simple and make it visually easy to pull out vital info. Also include complete contact info in the body of the e-mail (shocking how few people do that).

    Some people attach a .doc copy and past the body into the mail, or include both a .doc copy and a .txt copy. That just makes it easier for us to get to the info we want and scan it in.

  7. Tim Fletcher says:

    Heather – visited your site for the first time today. Good stuff. Would be interested in your musings on the following.

    When I’ve been successful managing teams it’s largely because I’ve hired the right people to begin with. The 80/20 of people mgmt: hire the right people and most of your work is done. Course you’ve still got to belittle them and take credit for their ideas, but that’s the easy stuff! ;-).

    Seriously, I’ve come up with a three short bullet points to keep in mind when interviewing, to remind myself of the 3 reasons to hire someone: Technical. Talent. Temperament.

    Technical is what the candidate knows. If it was a mathematical equation it would be expressed just so:

    Technical ability = (education time x education quality) x (real world experience)

    This is the easiest to qualify, and sometimes inexperienced recruiters or hiring managers hire on this basis alone. But Tech indicates only what they know – not what they can do.

    Talent is how I see innate ability. Some people are born to sing, to code or to run. It’s in their DNA. It’s a gift from God. Others can train or study till they are blue in the face, but up against someone with raw talent and a smidgeon of training, the person with raw talent will blow the other guy away. These people are rare to find. And if you do find them, they still may not work out? Why? Behold the third reason…

    Temperament. The most technically trained people in the world are sometimes difficult to deal with if they haven’t got the right temperament. They can position the rest of the team, alienate the stakeholders, and make you find excuses to not hand them as assignment. This is where attitude comes in, which is perhaps a better word to use, but it doesn’t begin with a T, so I don’t use it.

    So if I interview someone with say, exceptional talent, medium training and a fantastic attitude, that’s a good hire. So is someone with an average portion of talent, but a great work ethnic and great problem solving abilities. On the other hand, I may not have time to invest in the training to bring someone like that up to speed. On the other hand, you can teach people about technical, but you can’t change their outlook on life.

    I’ve heard that MS used to hire based on the first T, and now are leaning towards the other 2. What are your thoughts?


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