Jumping back on the horse….to find a Dynamics Platform Technical Evangelist

I've obviously made my career (what there is of it) recruiting. Over the last 3 (or more?) years, I've primarily focused on pipelining marketing candidates. To the uninitiated, this is basically identifying and engaging candidates that could fit multiple positions across the company and maintaining relationships with them via things like this here blog. Having spent so much of my career recruiting on very specific openings, I enjoyed the variety (and challenge) of pipelining. My team does both pipelining and individual req work. As a working manager, I've focused my time on the pipe side.

That's all gone great but we have some to a point where we have new people in transition; meaning they are coming on to the team but not yet fully engaged and ramped 100%. Plus, we are starting to get more requests for help from the line recruiters (Staffing Consultants here) which is a great thing for us. We have lots of flexibility in terms of how we can help these recruiters including engaging contract recruiters on our extended team. When the team's bandwidth is tapped, I can shift from pipelining to req work (at least until our team gets ramped up). So I took on some open positions this week and am working on identifying candidates for them.

It's been a little while but I think that doing this kind of candidate generation keeps one's skills sharp. I've always enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. The one thing that is significantly different for me now is that I have been more involved online, specifically via my blog. So while I generate candidates for positions using my regular tried-and-true methods, I do think about how the blog fits in; especially when I have a position that includes a blogging/community outreach aspect to it. I never wanted my blog to be a place where I "posted" jobs. I know that most of you aren't looking for a new position so that could be really boring for you (even MORE boring than my regular stuff). On the other hand, I notice people hanging around here that have some technical skills and somehow ended up here (an interest in marketing, perhaps?). I've mentioned before that I think there's a huge opportunity to recruit Technical Evangelists via blogs and so now I have a position to share: Dynamics Platform Technical Evangelist.

Cliffs Notes version of the requirements: development knowledge (especially using .NET Developer Tools), ERP/CRM.SCM or Financials knowledge. strong communication skills.

I'm confident that someone like this has been hanging around here. Maybe someone that is interested in working with the team that developed Channel 9? Feel free to contact me if this sounds like you (heathham@microsoft.com).

Comments (11)

  1. KW says:

    It’s interesting to see how people find new usages for a BLOG. In the past, I had this narrow perspective abt blog which it’s primary purpose is to connect with friends….virtually. Now, I have seen people using it to talk abt their life, their career, their favorite topics, status updates, networking and even as a marketing tool and etc. (oh….did I mention recruiting? 🙂 )

    I have been reading your blog for a few months now….and the thing that I really like abt it is…..the breadth of topics you’re covering..from sleeping in the office, to marketing to etc.

    Hmmmm….may be I should start one too on my favorite topic "eCommerce".

  2. crawdad13 says:

    Hey Heather,

    I have a couple of things for you specific to marketing recruiting…

    First: How do the daily activities of someone who is a "pipeliner" differ from those of someone who does individual req work.  On top of that, what are the different kinds of recruiters, staffing consultants or as you call them, line recruiters?  Are there people who focus on certain career level candidates like only recruiting director level candidates, or do the recruiters pay more attention to a certain vertical market so they know the right qualities to look for and the right questions to ask.  Or, ( I know I shouldn’t begin a sentence that way) does a staffing person maybe work within a certain product group or discipline?  

    Microsoft is so big that it is hard to understand  who might be seeing my resume when I apply for a job.

    Second: How do I find out if I am the kind of candidate that you (specifically) might want in your pipeline?  I found this blog in Octoberand have been a very faithful reader and a sporadic (but dedicated) responder, so I am sure that at some point you have covered this, but what are YOU looking for in a potential match.  I read the snapshot of the job you talked about in your most recent post and don’t have developer experience, but I would love for you to take a look at my resume and tell me honestly whether you think there might be a fit for me somewhere at Microsoft.

    As I mentioned in a couple of previous threads, I actually spend a fair amount of time searching the Microsoft careers site for jobs where there are obvious correlations to my experience and talents, but what you can’t know when you apply for a job online is what the team is like, who the people are that might read your resume or why you might not fit a position as well as you think you do.

    Honestly, I just might not be a good fit, but I would have no idea or way of knowing except that I don’t get the call for an interview.  In that case, I have to be optimistic and assume that there might be an internal candidate, or a thousand applicants or I just didn’t have the right keywords in my resume.  If I were to take it personally every time I didn’t get the interview for the perfect job (172034 on the Ladders) I would get crapped out very quick.

    Is there any way to get a true and brutally honest evaluation of whether there are obvious red flags?

    Congrats on finally getting a fully staffed team, I know you have been wishing for that for quite a while.

    Darren Cox (crawdad13) Dag@Larryslist.com or dcox@DarrenJCox.com

  3. I have found myself in a role where I too balance pipelining and specific req activity. How do you keep candidates interested provided there is not an immediate position opening that fits their skill set? I have found candidates get irritated when I contact them about a position that has yet to come to fruition, but is in the pipeline.  I realize this is a bit off the path of where you were heading with this post, but hope to get some insight from you.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    KW – you should give it a try! I think the thing that all of those reasons for blogging have in common is the idea of making yourself findable. There are a bunch off different things I do that are work-related using my blog: I can help people see a day in the life (well, technically about 3 years in the left and counting) of a Microsoft employee (me), I can help demystify the recruiting process, I can help people better prepare for their interviews by setting expectations and coaching. All the stuff that really seems personal or off topic kind of falls nto that first bucket. I like the idea of helping people see beyond that borg image.

    Darren – great questions. Let me take them individually:

    1) Pipeliner versus line recruiter. That’s a tough question because it differs by company and team. ALL great recruiters are doing some pipelining. For example, let’s say that I am recruiting for server marketing and I meet someone who I think is fantastic but not a fit for one of our current openings. I stay in touch with that person and reach out when something opens up that could be a fit. In a simple form, that is pipelining. Having a central team like mine, we have been able to take that concept and turn it into a business process.

    My team is a centralized candidate generation team. We are charged with engaging candidates that can fit open positions, now and in the future. So the 2 pronged approach of req recruiting and pipelining on a larger scale makes sense for us. Ultimately, what we have done on the pipeline side is determined some basic functional profiles that we feel are in-demand in multiple groups across the company (my little team supports all marketing in North America), for example technical product managers from comepetitive companies. We go out and engage with those people where we can find them (we think about the concept of talent pools) and then once we find them, we try to match them to current openings. If there aren’t current openings, we try to stay in touch and push them out to recruiters at a later date. It’s not perfect and we haven’t been as good as we would like to be in the staying in touch piece mostly because of our small team size. Hopefuly that makes sense.

    2) Recruiter alignment. This really depends. We do have an executive recruiting team that handles general manager and above, but that is a small perceptage of our hires and it’s hard for a candidate to determine if they are an executvie candidate (we make that determination based on background, not based on where the candidate feels they are since we have insight into our internal leveling). The Staffing Consultants are then aligned by individual businesses. Some are focused on a narrow profile set (for example, you can have someone recruiting for a very specific technology) or they may have a combination of different types of open positions (marketing + tech for example). It really depends on what makes sense to the business. My team is unique in that we are purely functional (covering marketing regardless of group….we handle it all). When we receive the resume of a candidate, we send it to all of the marketing recruiters that we feel could have an interest, regardless of the position the candidate applied to (we like to give candidates more options rather than onlyh slotting for an individual role). There are similar teams for core tech and sales, services and IT.

    3) Finding out if you are the right type of candidate for Microsoft. That is a hard question. Ultimately the hiring manager makes that determination. We (my team) are a bit upstream from that. The recruiters on my team can determine whether you are the right fit for the openings they are helping recruiters with, but we cover a small % with our req work. When it comes to pipelining, we take the resumes we receive and proactively push them out to any staffing consultants we feel may have a fit for their background. Also, the resume goes into our database which recruiters search diligently using keywords. I guess the short answer is that if a recruiter feels you are the type of candidate that would fit their business, they would definitely be in touch. I know that this isn’t ideal…it’s something that is really broken about the staffing function; that you submit a resume and aside from acknowledgement that your resume is received, you don’t hear from us again unless there is a match. I’m hoping that there are some software vendors out there taking on the challenge of creating an application that sits on top of our recruiting tools that allows candidates to access their status but I am unaware of anything right now. It would have to be a technology solution becuase we receive too many resumes to respond to everyone with status. If we responded to everyone personally, we simply would not have time to fill positions. I hate saying it but it’s the truth.

    4) Knowing what the team is like. I have some ideas about how we can share with candidates what the teams are like. I would like to do more blog interviews with hiring managers. I would like to do them on video. Right now, I don’t have the resources (nor the production skills). If wishes were reality, we would have it right here. I’m still hoping for a better experience for candidates. Don’t get crapped out, Darren  : ) Seriously, it’s just a level of ambiguity that comes along with the space. I hate it too. The only thing I can tell you is that I remember what it was like looking for a new position and I use that memory and experience to do what I can to represent the interest of candidates in what we do here. I only have a certain level of influence but I am all about the candidate experience.

    5) True and brutal feedback. You can get that if you get a phone interview with a recruiter (and they are comfortable giving that kind of feeedback). I have given that kind of feedback in the past but being in the role I am now, it’s hard for me to speak on behalf of all the staffing consultants.

    Phew, I hope that helps…great questions.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Bethany – that is also a great question. I generally try to contact them when I do have something that may fit their background. We also have a careers newsletter that people can sign up for (on our careers site). I think we have the benefit of volume so the likelihood of finding an opening for them is greater. You could ask them how they would like to hear from you. Perhaps, they are even interested in news about your company and an occassional e-mail with a link to a news item can keep them engaged (I have to remind myself that it doens’t always have to be abuot jobs). If you could come up with a few ideas like this; things they might be interested in hearing about, then you could ask them which interest them and keep them in folders (or outlook contact categories) based on their response to communicate with them regularly. Hope that gives you some good ideas!

  6. KW says:

    Hi Heather,

    I understand the complexity of recruiting a candidate and the amount of work is….huge! With respect to your point #3, I think the limitation is not really in the technology …but the HR resources that is required to manually provide a status in the tool so that the info/status can be transmitted to the applicant.

    I’m not familiar with Microsoft’s internal recruiting tool…..but assume it’s a tool that houses the jobs and the resumes that are associated to them,  you can get some technical guys to build a logic to automatically provides status updates to the candidates based on the activities that happened to the resume. For example…..if the resume is read, status to applicant is "resume received and reviewed", if no further progress from the recruiter after 2 weeks….regardless if the resume is read or not, then send the applicant a status saying "possibility of getting this job is 50%", then change it to 25% if 3 weeks have lapsed and 0% if 4 weeks are gone….or something like that.

    Adding to Darren’s points, all recruiters rely heavily on the resume to tell him/her if the applicant is a match for the job. But there is soooooo limited things that you can write on a resume and all of those qualifications are….something that happened in the past but not abt a potential qualification / business proposition. For example, let say I have a great idea which I can help Microsoft to grow the revenue for MSN significantly….where do I write that on the resume? Who can I talk to? (I’m serious abt this MSN proposition). Thus, I think this is the part that will require some kind of networking…and this blog may comes in handy.

    (I hope you have gotten as many applicants for the "Dynamics Platform Technical Evangelist" position as the number of comments that you have generated here. 🙂 )

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    KW – the status exists in most applicant tracking systems actually. Recruiters have to disposition candidates all the time. It’s just that the candidate doesn’t have access to the data that is in the tool. Unfortunately, your point about getting "some guys" to build an add on to the ATS isn’t that simple. We aren’t in the applicant tracking system software business and it’s just not as easy as asking someone to build a nice little ap to sit on top of our system. If it were that easy, it would be done already. That is why I thikn a software company should do it and charge for it. It’s a huge opportunity.

    I think that if someone has a great idea, they should include it in a cover letter/e-mail intro. But they also need to consider that it’s not just an idea that gets the job. You have to have the requisite experience. We don’t ONLY care about wehat is on the resume, but the experience on the resume is often the minimum qualification. The ideas and cometencies and x factors all come out in the interview. You have to win the right to interview most frequently with the resume.

    Well, I appreciate the outside perspective. What we do in a staffing function is often more complicated than people think. There are many repercussions around developing aps and changing processes…it’s never as simple as it seems.

  8. crawdad13 says:

    Hey, It’s darren Cox again.

    I know I’m not the smartest guy in the room here, But it isn’t like there aren’t precedents for the tracking activity.  If I apply for a job at Jostens I can check the job status as it goes through a process.  It is fairly rudimentary, but it is there I just have to log in and look.

    The real killer app (sorry, is that too 1999) for this kind of thing has been in use for a long time… but not by HR departments.  

    Imagine if you just equated an application to a package being sent to some foreign destination.  If we want to send our resume on paper via Fed Ex or UPS we can track that thing down to the second.  I can tell when it leaves one location, how long it takes to travel in between locations and when it gets to its final destination.  I know everything about how my package (resume) has been handled, and I know what happened to it at the other end because I can see the actual signature of the person that I sent it to.

    Seems to me this is about all I can ask for as a candidate; to be informed during the process.

    Plus, Imagine how great it would be from an efficiency and coaching perspective for a director to be able to compare and contrast how long it takes one group to plow through a mountain of resumes and actually staff a position Vs. another group.  You could write case studies and gain valuable knowledge from Data-driven best practices.

    Now…Let’s see…Hmmmm, what company can we think of that is really good at creating and marketing (or buying a company that creates) ubiquitous business software that makes life easier for all people within a certain sphere (say Recruitment Communications)?

    I know applications aren’t packages, but If I can track one just by scanning a bar code, the other shouldn’t be that hard to keep track of during the process and it shouldn’t add any extra work for the staffing folks since the whle thing is automated.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, I totally agree. I almost think more of a supply chain software compnay beng able to do this easily, if they want to move into this space, versus an HR vendor. Either way, I’d be interested in seeing somehting like tht come to market. My guess is that it would have to be packaged with the Applicant Tracking System.

    Maybe that is the problem. The expertise for this kind of application sits in the SCM software space but the partner channel exists in the staffing systems space. And if an SCM aps compnay decided to hitch their horse to a wagon, they would be ignoring the rest of the applicant tracking systems out there. Maybe if we had omre of a dominant player in the ATS market, it would be more likely to happen.

  10. crawdad13 says:

    Doesn’t Microsoft utilize a SCM application somewhere so that they can keep track of where they are sending copies of software?  I am sure they are probably linked right into they SCM applications for Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Staples, Walmart and many others.  (In fact, my best friend works for Accenture at the Best Buy Headquarters here in Minneapolis and I called him, just out of curiosity, and asked and he was pretty sure that the whole process is automated.)

    I realize that a Supply Chain Management app, on its own, doesn’t fit the bill, but seriously, how hard could it be to tweak the solution for your specific environment?

    Wow, isn’t it nice of me to spend Microsoft’s money on an application development project that doesn’t translate into one dollar of net-new revenue?  Yeah, I get that probably the main reason why this doesn’t exist already is that there is no tangible cost benefit for the company.

    As I see it, the only way to justify the expense of exploring and developing an application like this, is if you feel it is a Seller’s market.  In other words, if it is more and more difficult to keep the pipeline full of great candidates and that you lose potentially great candidates (like me for instance;-) ) because there isn’t enough communication related to the job opportunities for which they have applied, then it might make sense to implement a system in which you could constantly and consistently update people about where you are in the hiring process for a specific job.  

    For instance, I applied for a job which is referenced on your blog under the  "See My Latest Jobs" link, on the right (176015).  I applied on 1/03/07 and the job was posted on 12/15/06.  Now, I assume that if I were considered a "good fit" that I would have heard something by now.  Let’s say, however, that I had interviewed for the position, it would be cool to be able to go to my careers homepage and look under "resume submissions" and find out if they are still in the first interview stage or if they have moved on without me.  

    Honestly, I don’t know how that might benefit Microsoft, but it would help me figure things out and maybe spur me to re-connect with the hiring manager to find out if I am still being considered.

    Heather, if everyone at Microsoft is as concerend about applicant experience as you seem to be, I am sure it is only a matter of time before something gets figured out.

    Darren Cox

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Well, I hope so! So you are partially right on why we don’t make our own. First, we really haven’t entered the staffing aps market. I’m sure there’s a TON of planning that goes into which markets we enter. That whole "why don’t you just…" thing looks so much easier from the outside, trust me.

    As far as bulding aps just for our own in-house (non-commercial) use, the challenge is that we don’t have development resources within staffing. The dev resources we have, for the most part, sit in product groups and are aligned with, you guessed it, commercial products.

    What I think needs to happen for it to get on the radar of big companies like us is for another company to do it well. That means a staffing aps vendor is going to have to roll the dice and put something together. It’s risky at best.

    Think about OFCCP and HIPAA regulations as they relate to the application. It’s possible that ATS vendors are stearing clear because from a technology standpoint, it would be incerdibly complex (I’m not technical).

    I’m also secretly (haha) hoping that someone somewhere figures it out so we have a success story to point to in order to justify more resources being put toward it. In the meantime, I think we do better than most companies when it comes to candidate experience. Until we are considered "the best" I’ll keep hopping on my soap box : )

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