I’m a recruiter, I’m a marketer, I’m a programs manager…what am I again?

I have one of those jobs that requires explaining. My title (on any given day) isn’t necessarily evocative of what I do. I think part of the reason for that is my disregard for titles and the boundaries of job descriptions (and the fact that I crafted my role…it’s made from scratch!). If I see something that needs to get done to benefit our business, I don’t care if it’s in my job description. Like I usually say: “Less talking, more doing” (though technically this blog represents lots of talking but that’s a different topic because in this case the talking is the doing).

I’ve argued before that I am not a marketer (but in a way, I am) and I’m not a recruiter (well, not a line recruiter but I sure do recruit). My title for most of the last 2 years says I manage staffing programs. I do that too. I am a human Venn diagram and I love that there are many different aspects of my job. Because if it was straightforward, it just simply would not be as much fun. I get bored with repeatable processes.

In recruiting forums, my opinion has been discounted (“you said you aren’t a recruiter”), I’ve been referred to as, and mistaken for, a marketer (thanks, but I feel that in the interest of setting expectations, I should tell you that I don’t really qualify). I’ve been asked what staffing programs are. Frankly, I need someplace to point people that explains what I and my team do. It should also help any job seekers out there understand how I can help you.

At the core, I am a recruiter. I don’t have any way to cue the sappy music while you are reading this but if I could, I would. What I care most about is what we in the staffing industry refers to as the “candidate experience”. That term refers to the interaction, both subtle and obvious, a candidate (or future candidate) has with a company as it relates to potential employment. I guess what I am saying is that it’s not just the experience a candidate has interviewing with Microsoft but well before that. It involves the employment brand. I remember what it was like to be a candidate. I’m not going to say I was traumatized, but I have been on the receiving end of some not great recruiting processes. I hated the uncertainty, I was flown in for a job that didn’t exist, I saw some aspects of corporate culture that did not appeal to me, I dealt with a headhunter with questionable tactics, I waited and waited and waited. Perhaps it’s the fact that I work in recruiting, but several times, I’ve told a company I interviewed with “I don’t see a role for me here. I like your company but I can’t see myself working here”. I can’t recall a candidate saying that to me ever, yet I’ve said it more than once.

From a functional standpoint, I can explain what my team does by looking at it from both an internal and external perspective. From a Microsoft standpoint, we are a “central sourcing” team. Yeah. we are centralized and we source candidates. That seems pretty straightforward but what we do is very different from what the recruiters do, in many ways. For example, we are not aligned to specific businesses, we only very rarely work directly with hiring managers and we don’t run interviews. Simply put, we are responsible for recruiting across all of marketing at Microsoft and we are a source for the individual recruiters to tap into for help on their open marketing reqs. In one way, we are like an internal agency, taking on reqs and providing slates of candidates. At the same time, we are recruiting for the broader “pipe” via programs like blogging and events and cold-calling. We are proactive (pushing resumes of strong marketing talent out to the marketing recruiting community here) and reactive (jumping in to source on individual openings).

From an external standpoint, we are a conduit into Microsoft for marketing talent. We act as a hub for candidates or prospects that want exposure to marketing roles across the company (well, technically, Microsoft US for experienced candidates). We are the people that will market your resume across the different recruiting teams. We have visibility to all marketing openings, we know what’s shaking in the business groups and corporate functions and we are experts at matching skills with roles inside the company (and you know I don’t use the term “experts” lightly)…it’s our core competency. In some respects, we are the face of marketing at Microsoft to the external marketplace (at least as it relates to our employment brand).

So that is what the team does. Lots of cold calling and reaching out, lots of interaction with prospects and candidates, evaluation of current needs and proactive marketing of resumes within the company. So what do I do personally you might ask (you might not but this is my blog so I will tell you anyway because if you are already bored, I’m not sure I could make you any more bored). I focus on programmatic outreach strategies; meaning, I identify strategies for reaching broad talent pools (1:many versus 1:1). Blogging is part of that, but you might be surprised to know that it’s a small part of what I do. I also manage our marketing recruiting event strategy (and execution), I engage with vendors and create programs and processes around their offerings (like TheLadders…we love those guys), anytime there’s an opportunity to tap into a marketing “talent pool”, that is where I want to be. It sounds a little esoteric, but really the key for me is keeping multiple balls in the air at once and solving real recruiting (candidate generation) business challenges (challenges like what happens to a strong candidate that doesn’t match our current hiring needs…I’m working on that one!).

Another aspect of my work is managing the Marketing Central Sourcing Team. We are small and scrappy (is scraptacular a word?). I’ve resisted the call of people management at Microsoft simply because, in many cases, it didn’t look like too much fun and it’s important to me that I enjoy my work. When that changed for me is when the Marketing Central Sourcing Team started to gel. Not to cue the violins again, but I really believe in what we are doing. I feel strongly that we are offering something to candidates above what they would otherwise have access to (exposure across our “marketing pipe”). Another big consideration (well, qualification) in my decision to pursue managing the team is the ability to still function as an individual contributor on the team. Because I feel so strongly about what we are doing, I want to be one of the people doing it, not just managing the people doing it (again, “less talking, more doing”). For our team, we’ve got 2 full time recruiters (Maria and Jan) doing the agency/req based side of our business as well as the internal resume routing. I do the broader pipe/programmatic recruiting. We’ve got Sarah (who has been known to comment here) managing our data (isn’t that a nice way to describe it, Sarah? You might have some adjectives to describe the data sometimes.) and Reed who is our phone- guru contract recruiter (also focused on the broader pipe). That’s our little team. It was easy for me to get excited about managing this team because I have no doubt that we have some of the strongest recruiters at Microsoft on our team. For me, it wasn’t about managing “a team”, it was about managing “this team”. We have our challenges (I believe there could be more of us if the headcount fairy would like to dispense with a little headcount pixie dust right about now), but I feel that even as a small team we can have an awesome impact. Ahhh, I can’t help but feel this way at the beginning of the fiscal year with so much ahead of us. Excuse my optimistic enthusiasm.

Another aspect of what I (and we) do has to do with the staffing community. I can’t look at my annual commitments and ignore the fact that many/most of them involve working with other folks inside staffing and the marketing community. When asked who our customer is, I often think to myself “who isn’t?”. At the end of the day, the hiring manager is the customer because they are making a purchase decision (to overly simplify it…don’t worry, I won’t treat candidates like “product”), but the Staffing Consultants (which is who I am referring to most of the time I use the word “recruiters”) are our liaisons to the hiring managers and they are our partners. We are also accountable to the broader marketing pipe here (represented by the marketing leadership team) and ultimately to Microsoft at large. In order to execute on our charter, we have to partner with Staffing Consultants and Staffing Managers (and sometimes hiring managers), work with our Staffing Marketing team to interpret and execute on our marketing employment brand, network within the internal (and external) marketing population, partner with other central sourcing teams to identify multi-pipe recruiting opportunities, collaborate with our staffing research team to acquire the research we need for our req and pipe-based direct sourcing, work with our diversity team to ensure that we have an executable diversity recruiting strategy….well, I’m sure there’s more. We’ve got a lot going on.

I guess what I was trying to do with this post is provide an answer to others in recruiting (mostly outside Microsoft) that ask “what do you do?” (some of whom think my job is blogging, which makes me giggle) and also help people (marketers) outside Microsoft understand how we fit into the broader staffing community here and how we can help them (to eliminate some of the confusion when we explain to someone that we are not going to be their recruiter but we can help them get a recruiter…yes, we are recruiters, no we aren’t line recruiters, yes we’ll talk to you about your background but no we won’t be the person interviewing you).

I’m not sure if any of you would care enough to have questions about this high level look at what we do, but if you do, definitely ask.

Comments (14)

  1. Wine-Oh says:

    At a place like Microsoft there are so many different marketing divisions. Do you specialize in one area versus another (ie products, MSN, MS Office, XBOX, etc).

    I also feel that titles arent indiciative of what one does. If you are a director at one company, doesnt mean you’ll be one at another. Depends on the size and function. I had a director title in my last position and places Ive interviewed now have asked "Are you ok with not having a director title?" My answer is yes, because its more about job function. My title could be head umpa lumpa and I wouldnt care. Actually it would look good on a business card.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    My team recruits for marketing across ALL divisions. If you are asking if some *marketers* specialize based on product, I’d say that some of the more technical/inbound marketers do (because they are tied to and often very passion about a specific technology set). My and large, movement within/between/across marketing organizations is very common here. I think that’s the benefit of some larger companies…you really can have a career with multiple different roles there. Not true of every big company (some limit movement) or only big companies (I imagine some smaller companies make a point of providing variety in work assignements.

    I agree with you about the titling stuff though I would have to draw the line at the umpa lumpa title. It’s kind of the rooty-tooty-fresh-and-fruity of job titles, I suppose. If I’m embarassed to say it, then I don’t want it.

  3. MK says:

    I am new to Heather’s site, trotted here through Marc Cenedella’s (Ladders.com)newsletter. I do agree with Wine-oh’s comments about titles. Generally in a small company (1-25), all that the glamourous title means is that, you will be accountable, responsible and terminatable ( if there is such a word) if things go sideways. Guess!, it helps you build up more scales on your skin…


  4. Wine-Oh says:

    I think thats great that Microsoft offers that in a marketing position. As a marketer myself, it opens up doors for opportunitiy to try new things, and be involved with other projects. Versus pidgeon hole’ing one self into a specific type of marketing.

    Yeah the umpa lumpa title comes from the .com boom of the late 90s, where titles were a bit out there. I wouldnt want a rooty tooty fresh and fruity title myself. I think it detracts and one wouldnt be taken seriously. Head Umpla Lumpa was a made up title we used at a company to mock the movement of wacky titles. That and adding Senior to a title that already has associate or assistant in it.

    No joke I remember one title being "The Big Cheese" when the person was CEO. All positions at same company had wacky titles and business cards to match. They looked similar to baseball trading cards, with photos of the person. Also I have expereince coming from a company that had 17 vp’s and there were only 50 people. Sometimes titles are an ego booster.

  5. Sarah says:

    Aww, Heather. Your enthusiasm is totally, like, infectious! So much so that I started my own blog and called it "The HiPo Lounge." I’m writing my first post tonight, wherein I will totally explain the origin of "HiPo" and what we’re trying to do. ‘Cause I figure that, conceptually, HiPo is something I should extend into all areas of my life. Thanks for the inspiration. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to, uh, managing the data. For the HiPos. Go Team!

  6. J. J. says:

    I think the existence of Heather’s team has put a human face on Microsoft recruiting, which enables a prospective candidate to have a conversation with Microsoft, as opposed to applying to a job or building a profile at Microsoft’s website and receiving an auto confirmation message. Heather’s team are out there telling people if you are interested in working for Microsoft in marketing functions, you can talk to us, with a personal email address and Blog. For candidates who don’t see a specific job on the website or don’t know where they would fit, they can still write to Heather. And she and her team then do the "matchmaking" or at least tell the candidates that they will circulate their resumes and keep them in mind. Customized human interaction is absolutely important for "candidate experience". How many people have had the experience calling customer service (either you phone, credit card or computer company) and get the endless auto manuel and then hear "Good-bye" by the system before you even have a chance to explain your problem? Didn’t you wish that you could just reach another human being and talk instead of dealing with unresponsive machines?

    As to Heather’s question, what to do with the strong candidates that you don’t currently have a job for? Can you put them in a database? Can you build a resume or candidate database from the people that you have met in events or via Blog & Email, that you think will be a good fit for Microsoft someday? Separate from the database that generated from the company website since you have already screened them? So that you can return to this database when you have the right opportunity?


  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh, I chuckle at the goofy titles myself. I’ll tell ya, the finance indistry is the worst with the titles…everyone is a VP.

    Sarah-I’m scared ; )

    J.J.- that’s totally in line with what we are doing (great minds, etc.). We are going to market to them to keep them interested and engaged so when the right opportunity comes up, they will be receptive. Sounds like an easy project but not so much. This is the year I crack that nut. Thanks so much for the nice words about my team! We love being that human face ; )

  8. Paul says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    I love the "human Venn diagram" imagery.  Now I’ll always think of you as three overlapping circles in red, blue and yellow.  How can you say you aren’t a marketer, and yet come up with such a fun idea?

    On a less deliberate note, the reference to the Microsoft Central Souring Team certainly conjures up a less than tasty image.  Wouldn’t it be ever-so-amusing to have that listed as the department you worked for on your business card?  Does that qualify as an egg corn?

    Lastly, regarding multi-functional, hard to pigeon-hole jobs, you have to think it’s kind of cool when everyone either wants to claim or disclaim you as one of their own.   I guess being the human face of the company (I wonder what Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer would say about that?) is about as gratifying a role as one could hope for.   I concur though, that the Borg seems friendlier with people like you blogging.

  9. Julia says:

    I’ve had a similar problem at my job. At the begining I wasn’t sure where they wanted me but I slowly carved out a niche. Now I handle all aspects. Unfortunately I’ve received little compensation 🙁

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul, the post was about Venn diagrams…I just made that other stuff up to illustrate my devotion to Mr. Venn. Yeah. so my typing stinks. I’ll go back and fix that. As for the multi-functional,  hard-to-pigeonhole job, I’m not sure it’s anyone so much wanting to claim me or us, just a need to try and get a handle on what we do relatvie to their understanding of existing roles. Where the evangelism is kind of new in staffing, it’s hard to know if it’s marketing or staffing (in my opinion, it’s candidate/market facing so it’s staffing). Frankly it could work the other way around ("oh no, she’s marketing, so you better take her"). The thing is, it’s so super clear to me that I’m Staffing. At the core, I’m a recruiter.

    Julia-I should make clear that I don’t perceive my situation as a problem at all. I love that my job is multi-faceted.

  11. Paul says:

    I knew you were a mathie at heart.  I think I may start describing myself as a human fractal diagram.  I like it.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    I am so not into math! The one subject I struggled with in both HS and college.