My Brand: she tells the truth and she answers mail

Last week at the CareerXRoads Colloquium, Mark Mehler (someone who gets it) asked me (I kid you not):  "you are the one that gives candidates feedback, right?". My response was something along the lines of "yeah that's me and I hope I am not the only one." All along, I have considered this part of my brand. When someone interviewed with me, they got actual feedback. I know that many, many recruiters don't give feedback claiming "legal reasons" or do the "we decided not to fill the position at this time" or the radio silence thing. That's just not me...never has been. I have just always felt that, when declining candidates, I could give them some kind of feedback that they can do something with, and there are other recruiters like me here. And I would want someone to do the same for me. I've gotten the lame responses myself. Both times, they "couldn't meet my salary expectations". Hope they are kicking themselves right now ; ) Anyway, I personally think that the key for the recruiters is crafting the message in a way that doesn't offend the candidate...make it about skills, make it a productive conversation.

So now that I have heard from so many people from the HP Alumni group and have been told that they are talking about me in a good way, some of my other work-style traits are becoming part of my public brand. What they are noticing is that I get back to everyone that sends me an e-mail. Even if the response has to be short.  Not trying to toot my own horn...this isn't some magic skill...pretty basic stuff. I treat people like people and I do what I can to get the resumes into the right hands. I recently read in my USC Trojan Family Magazine a blurb stating that you are more likely to be declined for a job after an interview because people are doing it via e-mail (this was viewed as a win because most people never get a final answer). What the?

OK, soapbox time. Recruiting is a people oriented job. Bad recruiters have given us all a bad name. This has led to low expectations, evidently. Of course, technology has caused an incredible increase in the number of applicants for jobs. But my perspective has always been that if the person sends the e-mail to you and addresses you by name, you need to get back to them with something that proves that you read their e-mail. And if someone took the time to interview for a position, they deserve a phone call with the results. I'm sorry, it's just sad that the minimum requirement is being lauded because so many recruiters don't meet it. Frankly, it's pushing the perception of recruiter performance to the extremes. The bad are worse and anyone that is human, real and responsive is *great*. Used to be that that's what it took to be a recruiter in the first place. Guess that's not so any more.

Anyhoo, I am not alone. There are other recruiters like me out there. And in here (at Microsoft).

Comments (9)

  1. Heather — I actually interviewed last week with a MS recruiter and had a great time. Now I was being interviewed for a job that I knew and she quickly learned that I would not be a great fit for. What she did was find my passions for the work I do and hopefully logged it to my resume submission so that when another recruiter finds me in the database they will know something about me.

    She did give me the "we decided not to fill the position at this time" line in the email a few days after the interview. But she was prompt and informed me that she did discuss with the hiring manager my desires and skills to see if there were any opening in other areas. Sadly there was not.

    The best thing she did was tell me that she had talked to a consultant in another team about me and that she would pass along the details from the interview to that other recruiter. Very nice and professional.

    So far I really like the recruiter that Microsoft employs! 🙂

  2. Phil Weber says:

    Heather: You’re my hero(ine). 🙂 If I were a marketing or finance person, I’d want to work for Microsoft just to have an opportunity to work with people like you. Keep up the great work!

  3. Raghu says:


    You have no idea how helpful your habit of answering email and empathy towards each request benefited us at PMI – Silicon valley. You answered each one of my emails requesting you to come and speak at our Project Management Institute (PMI) forum in Silicon Valley. We loved having you here and the chapter members are still raving about what a great seminar on blogging it was. Thank you.

    Raghu (Jayaraman Raghuraman)

  4. Mark Tookey says:


    You are definitely one of the stars that shine out from so much of the recruiting world! I remember when I wrote to you the very first time and you actually replied, I almost fainted on the spot! Now we banter back and forth by email just like crazy (helps that I am totally crazy to start with).

    What gets me is that so many of these recruiters seem happy just to ignore you unless you are "the one", or fob you off with the stock phrases, without thinking what it does for the company’s reputation. I know I’ve had such bad experiences with some recruiters that it makes you sure you wouldn’t be a customer of their products/services if they paid you, let alone consider ever applying for another job with them.

    Anyway, Heather, keep up the good work, you certainly are a great selling point for working at Microsoft.



  5. Dave Lefkow says:

    I saw a statistic on a major job board that over 80% of people that apply never hear back from any employers, even if they’ve applied for multiple positions.

    As a recovering consultant in the recruiting industry (and a former recruiter), I can tell you that the touch rate in most of the companies I’ve worked with is actually around 1%. Scary!

  6. Max Battcher says:

    I hate that I’ve come to even appreciate inhuman automated rejections that contain no useful criticism.

    Just like any other area of business, I wish more recruiters would read the ClueTrain Manifesto. (

  7. Taylor O. says:


    Thank you so much for your post on feedback. I’ve been to several interviews in the past year, with basically zero feedback other than the boilerplate replies. I’ve even tried to e-mail to ask for feedback and have not received a response. I suspect it’d be harder to ignore the request by phone, but knowing the strong aversion to it makes me loathe to even try. Your simple, straightfoward approach is refreshing. Please keep pushing the idea, without any feedback it seems too much of an out of control mystery.

  8. Chuck Armatys says:


    If I had a company, I’d sure try to hire you for HR! I’m hoping that your customer orientation is more than a byproduct of working with those bright and dedicated marketing folks. A great idea – "They’re not applicants, they’re customers".

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Taylor/Chuck…thanks guys. Chuck, I think it actually comes from empathy. More about being human than about marketing, I hope!

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