Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Conversations with Microsoft Senior Talent Scout – Rev 2.18.04

Two sets of notes, the first set is from my conversation with the talent scout on Monday, 2.16.04, and the second set is from our group conversation with her on Tuesday 2.17.04.

There is a wealth of information in these notes including specific advice on how to improve your ResumeBlog to make yourself more visible to recruiters and more interesting once you are found.



Notes from my conversation with the Microsoft Senior Talent Scout, 2/16/04

Microsoft Sr. Talent Scout is one of 5 “Senior Talent Scouts” at Microsoft. Talent Scouts are essentially the recruiting swat team that helps the business division recruiters when they are having trouble filling a position. This Microsoft Senior Talent Scout first learned about us (ProfGuilds) thru a internet search using keywords (MSN or Google, I didn’t probe). She found the ResumeBlog of Andy Klein ( of this group along with others. Several of the ResumeBloggers are now in discussions with Microsoft concerning open positions. In fact, the talent scout went thru most of the ResumeBlogs in the BlogRoll (the list of ResumeBloggers that is on the right-hand side of every ResumeBlog). This particular Microsoft Sr. Talent Scout and one other talent scout are responsible for marketing, the other three talent scouts are for technical jobs. Via email Microsoft Sr. Talent Scout has shared information about the ProfGuilds’ ResumeBlogs with other Microsoft recruiters. (Note: my ResumeBlog is here -, but see the advice below, my ResumeBlog needs some improvement! A ResumeBlog is different than an ordinary blog -- go to the ResumeBlog blog for more information.)

What the Microsoft Sr. Talent Scout is really excited about is the ResumeBlogs. Overall she is thrilled with blogs in general because they reveal more about a potential candidate and in particular provide insight into candidates that are the levels below director. Higher level people often have more information about them because of speaking engagements, being on company websites, etc. She considers blogs to be a revolutionary tool for staffing professionals to use to find top talent.

The Microsoft Sr. Talent Scout never uses job boards for a variety of reasons including:
  • Typically Microsoft already has a person’s resume if they have put it into a job board
  • The quality is lower than what she can find by an internet search
  • Microsoft Sr. Talent Scouts find candidates through internet search and then follow-up via phone or email to prospective candidates or people that might know of prospective candidates. They do not usually post their job openings as the internet search method is more effective.
  • When they (the Talent Scouts or presumably any of the Microsoft recruiters) find a community or cluster of similar professionals they are very excited because they have found these communities to be the best source of good talent.

Feedback on the ResumeBlog service overall:
  • This is exactly the kind of service she loves to discover. I got the impression it was unique amongst the various communities she has found. She has already told a number of other recruiters about the ResumeBlogs.
  • She did not realize the search box would take keywords. We need to change the box description to say “keyword search” rather than “member search”. She thought it was a search by member name only.
  • She would like to see the ResumeBlog members split out by ProfGuild (we are working on that already)
  • She would like a “last updated” flag next to each members’ link in the BlogRoll
  • She would like a service where a recruiter could sign up to receive notification of new or modified ResumeBlogs (some kind of RSS feed?)

As you can see, our conversation centered around the ResumeBlogs. Microsoft does not use our job posting services. However that doesn’t mean the job posting services aren’t important. These services are what attracts members to ProfGuilds and then it’s our job to get them to create ResumeBlogs.

Microsoft Sr. Talent Scout and her team are going to write up a list of 10 tips on how to get found as a job candidate on the internet. She will sign this herself and post it to our members. Our thoughts behind this are to get our members to hear directly from one of the industries top talent scouts on how to get a job. I suspect she will be quite convincing in getting more people to create ResumeBlogs.

But wait, do we want more people to have ResumeBlogs and therefore create more competition for ourselves? Absolutely because the more ResumeBlogs we have the more likely one of us is going to be found and as we have seen numerous times, once hiring managers/recruiters find one ResumeBlog they tend to use the search box or the list of links in the Blogroll to find additional candidates.

Notes/Input from the Microsoft Sr. Talent Scout from group meeting with ProfGuilds on 2/16/04

Suggestions on how to improve your ResumeBlog:

  • Explain more about product space, industry space in your ResumeBlog
  • Include product context: explain something about the product, that's useful information.
  • Make it look like a resume rather than a bio; link to other information about yourself (articles, website, press mentions, etc.).
  • Experience, even older experience is relevant. If there is a natural break you might want to just put company, title, date. Technology changes but functional role does not. Marketing people with previous technical experience is very relevant.
  • Red flags no dates of employment, too much movement although more acceptable lately.
  • Green flags. What did the person actually DO? What did they OWN, not just what did they do as part of a team. Strategic without tactics is bad. How they put something thru the whole process.
  • Keep personal stuff out of it (that is, don’t use it as a personal blog also). Blogs should clearly indicate whether they are personal or professional.

Getting Found
  • Talent Scouts start with an internet search using keywords of company names, product types, they find people, then use those people to find more people
  • They search discussion groups to find knowledgeable people too
  • Once find a person that might be interesting they do an internet search on the name of that person
  • Are they using social networking tools – LinkedIn, Spoke, and Plaxo? She doesn't use them for the intended purpose, just uses them to get names by keyword e.g. network security. Once she has names she does an internet search on those people. [By the way, my personal opinion is that references are LESS important in the internet world than previously, because now professionals have ways of actually showing their work to a wide audience via internet presentations, articles, press mention, etc. -- Cynthia.)
  • Smaller companies may have to use other mechanisms because they don’t get the same candidate flow.
  • Once you get your resume to one recruiter they will pass to other recruiters in that company.
  • Use KEYWORDS. Company names, titles, is what they do the initial search on. You want your ResumeBlog to come up in that search. OK to put keywords into source code -- talent scout doesn’t look for actual word. Market space terms server, business intelligence, security, digital media, desktop applications, operating systems, ebusiness, smart personal objects, mobility, embedded, consumer space, devices, home entertainment, customer segment specific experience, consumer packaged goods, branding and advertising, architect, developer, etc.
  • Be part of a community of similar professionals…creates a pool of talent for the recruiters to tap into. They will look at a lot of ResumeBlogs if the are in a logical grouping (e.g. our professional guilds, note that we will be breaking the ResumeBlogs into chunks by guild soon)

Getting Hired
  • Why are some product marketing/management & technical positions “hard to fill” such that the Talent Scout gets involved? Niche-y jobs. Not just hiring for the position, hiring for the long run. Hiring the best in the industry. Or some recruiters are working on a lot of positions (e.g. 40+) need help from the Talent Scouts.
  • Looking for people who are smart and not how to get stuff done. People that are successful in working towards a GOAL (and accomplishing that goal). This was THE most important thing she said re: Microsoft, their culture. Can't emphasize that enough. She noted working hard is commendable, but what's important is that the hard work is related to a GOAL.
  • Picking out doers from talkers. What have they done. Must have been at a company long enough to get stuff done (at least 1.5 yrs).

Recruiting Industry Observations:
  • How should we (ProfGuilds) approach recruiters? Network our way in, using email addresses on job postings doesn’t work because those typically go into a folder. AIRS is Go thru those organizations and find the recruiters.
  • Change in the recruiting industry: It’s now all about finding the BEST talent. Typically someone who has a web presence is viewed as a better potential hire…speaking at conferences, discussion groups, articles, etc. Who are the best people in this space?