The Human Head Weighs 8 Pounds

OK not really, but I thought this would be a good way to kick off a blog post on what you can do to help me help you. I'm specifically thinking about the e-mails I get from people wanting to be considered for roles at Microsoft. None of the stuff I am going to recommend here is an actual requirement. But the easier you make it on the recruiting team, the more time they have to spend getting your information in front of the right people. So these are just suggestions to help you maximize your interactions with recruiting at Microsoft (specifically, me...I admit it but I'm sure other recruiters will agree with most of these points, if not all) if you are actively seeking a new position.

Do spell-check. Don't bother writing a formal cover letter, but do include some basic information like who you are, where you work and (briefly) what you do, whether you will relocate and any types of roles that interest you. Attention to detail is good; attention to the appropriate details is better.

Do name your resume document something other than "resume.doc". You want the recruiter to save name it something intuitive to the recruiter. My resume is called Heather_Hamilton_2005.doc. If you can work your name into the subject line of the e-mail all the better. Please, please, please don't make me go to a website to get your resume. If you put it in my inbox, I can forward it along right away. The first thing I do when I open a mail I think is from a potential candidate is look for the attachment. Creating less steps for the recruiter is a good thing.

Don't send the resume you wrote in Word Perfect to Microsoft. If the application you use to write your resume is something that the recruiter will have to load (or at least load a converter for), it's probably best to go ahead and update your PC with some new software (look at me trying to generate sales for MS Office...hee!). There are actually a few reasons for this. First, you want the recruiter to read your resume and act on it immediately...having to fiddle around with "how do I open this?" is a distraction. Second, we hire people that are passionate about technology and the role it plays in peoples' work/lives. So a circa 1988 version of a program may not leave the impression that technology is your passion.

Do take a look at our careers site and let us know if there are specific jobs that interest you (and you feel confident that you meet some/most of the qualifications). This helps us route your resume to the appropriate recruiters. If we feel there are additional roles that could be a match, we'll share your resume with the recruiters for those roles as well. We are all about getting your resume in front of folks.

Don't ask for contact info for recruiters and hiring managers (unless you have already had a conversation with them). There's a professional courtesy here involving contact info. Because we get a large volume of inquiries for most jobs, we have to limit the conversations to folks we feel could match the job specs. It's not because we are mean. It's not because we are lazy. It's not because we don't like you. Frankly, it's because we have to spend our time where we have the highest likelihood of making a mutual match (that should be good news to job seekers). To that end, we also can't *get* someone a phone call or interview (hmm, wish I was that influential so I could *get* myself a meeting with Bill Gates). We are all about marketing your background to the right people to get them interested, not dictating whom they have to call.

Do include your resume in any recruiting related correspondence, even if you have done so already. Let's say you engage a recruiter that has viewed and routed your resume and you come across another job on the career site that interests you. You contact the recruiter to see if your information can be forwarded to the hiring manager for that position. Include your resume (again)! This will keep the recruiter from having to look for it among the other resumes they have on their hard drive (resumes stored in the database lack formatting, so you want to use a .doc or .pdf copy). Another case of enabling the recruiter to act on your resume immediately.

Don't get mad or discouraged if we don't find anything for you initially. I can't tell you how often we'll see a new position open up and the recruiter has a light bulb moment because they already know of someone who would be great for the position (my co-worker, Maria, actually has a sound effect for this). That someone could be you. Consider that you might be contacted down the road for positions and maintain that relationship with the recruiter.

Do be "in demand". I have received e-mails from people telling me how desperate they are to work at Microsoft, that they will do anything to get in the door. That doesn't instill a lot of confidence. There's a fine line between passionate and desperate. Make sure you fall on the right side of that line. Make us want to keep you from going to one of our competitors.

Do be specific if you are looking for feedback on your resume. I get asked for resume feedback often and just as often am confused as to what the person is looking for. Do they want to know if their formatting is effective? If their verbiage gives recruiters a clear idea of their roles? If they potentially fit roles at Microsoft? I'm happy to assist with feedback, but it helps to know what you want me to look at. I can't spend significant amounts of time doing this kind of coaching (that's a different job than the one I have...but happy to do a little of it) so it helps to zero in on the area that the person needs help with.

Don't ask me to connect with you via LinkedIn if we have never had an actual conversation. And...

Don't start your mail to us with "Dear Google"...

OK, that's my list of "Do"s and "Don't"s. It's all about improving your chances of having your resume go to the right person in a timely manner (it's not about what bugs me...that's a completely separate blog post with very little to do with work).  Now tell me what you want the recruiter to do and not do...this is a 2 way relationship. What can we be doing differently?

Comments (7)

  1. Tim says:

    Excellent advice! Would you please let me know if it works? I have been telling people for years that the program is named "QuarkXPress" not "Quark X press", "Quark Express", etc.

    And, btw, why are you referring to your resume, Heather? Hmmm?

    Happy T-day!

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh, Tim..I always keep my resume updated (it’s a good thing to do). Anyway, I’ve mentioned it before…if someone can offer me something better that I have here at Microsoft, they should call me. I definitely take those calls, but as you can tell, nobody’s been able to offer me something better than I’ve got here. I’m a free agent and I also happen to be happy in my job ; ) Also, I use it, on accassion, for speaking engagements and the like. Nothing too devious ; )

  3. Jason Hunter says:

    Hey Heather!

    Great blog posting. If you don’t mind I have a quick question. I have been sending my resume out to perspective employers and I usually send an email stating that I think we could potentially work well together blah blah blah, and then I supply the URL to the PDF file of my resume. <a href="">Like This</a>. (Im assuming this comment box allows for HTML)

    You stated that this is not a good route to go. I’m not sure I understand why? A recruiter can still forward the email along to whomever needs to see it as they would if it was an attachment, no?

    Thanks so much for your time on this whole thing, very much appreciated.


  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jason, they can, but then they have to click back to their inbox after viewing the resume. Plus, if they are like us, they cannot send a link to their ATS to get scanned in so they end up having to save your resume on their hard drive before they send it to the ATS. Just creates a lot of extra steps for the recruiter.

  5. Tiffany says:


    What do you think of sending resume’s in Publisher or as a PDF? Since I work in Marketing I thought it would be nice to make my resume more creative and use a tri-fold brochure style. Looks great printed, but does not email as well. Should I stick with the Word version for email or send out the publisher or PDF version?

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    I think a .pdf version is fine but I would not recommend anything tri-fold. It could be seen as kind of gimmicky and it wouldn’t scan well into resume databases.

  7. Today, marked a first for me … I right-clicked and asked Outlook to send all emails from a certain sender

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