I've received a number of questions on different topics and wanted to get some of these answered today. Also want to let you know that these answers are from my personal perspective and while I'm at it,  here's my disclaimer.

 Keep the questions coming!


Question: If you have interviewed with MS once (in Marketing) and have not received an offer, is it worth applying for other positions in the same group? Do you reconsider candidates?

Answer: Good question. While we do bring in people to interview for specific roles, we are also thinking broadly about the person's fit within the organization and at Microsoft in general. This is one reason why someone's interview schedule could change during the day...perhaps we have found that their skills are more applicable to another position in the group (or in another group). And there have been situations where we have offered a candidate a position different than the one they interviewed for. We are doing our best to match the person with the role. Because we do tend to do a pretty good job of this, it probably wouldn't make sense for you to apply right away for additional positions in the same immediate group. Some groups are larger than others though. So make sure the recruiter that you are working with is aware of your desire to be considered for other position. Twice over the last month or so, I've seen candidates I've interviewed hired by other groups because we were actively marketing that candidate's background to other organizations. These candidates weren't a fit for the positions we originally brought them in for, but their skills and talents were in high demand in other organizations. Also, if for some reason the type of position you interviewed for was not a fit for your background, let your recruiter know if you are open to other types of roles. The key is to keep the lines of communication open with your recruiter and make sure they know how to reach you if that “just right“ position opens up.

Question: This question regards the current state of the economy, outsourcing and international recruiting. The person asks: Does Microsoft have people in India and China doing the same thing? How has the bad economy and “shaken” developer confidence affected the candidates you see?

Answer: We do have offices internationally, although the Microsoft Product Groups reside here in Redmond, Washington . If you want specific info on positions available abroad, feel free to visit our international careers site. You will notice that there are some marketing related roles in these other locations.

Your question about the economy probably needs a more detailed answer. Keep in mind that my focus is marketing and things may be different for technical recruiting here at Microsoft. Just some insight into what I have seen since I joined Microsoft (in the Summer of 99)...during the dotcom boom, many people were focused on working for start-ups. That created a lot more competition for talent in the market. So this made recruiting more challenging, really, for all larger companies as less candidates were applying for their positions. A lot of these start-ups hired MBAs, as do we for marketing roles. Candidates had more choices which I think is a good thing. At that time, our roles in recruiting were about marketing Microsoft as an employer to candidates in the market and seeking out candidates. As the economy changed and dotcoms became less attractive (not saying they aren't attractive, just that there were less available job openings in this space), the larger companies were getting more applicants. That's when the role of the recruiter changed to being more about managing volumes of resumes and applicants and evaluating skills. To some extent, I think that is where the economy is right now. But keep in mind, that as a company, Microsoft is really focused on hiring the BEST talent. Sometimes those folks are applying to our open positions (via our career site, job postings, etc.) and sometimes they are perfectly happy in their current positions, worried about conducting an active job search in this economy or maybe just starting to think about making a move. This is why we have people at Microsoft in Talent Scout roles. We are responsible for knowing or finding out who the BEST candidates are in the industry in general and for specific positions we have open.  To use an anthropological analogy, to stay competitive, we have to be both hunters and gatherers. You can get great candidates either way, but as a company you have to be prepared to do both.

Question: What are the possibilities (and also probabilities) that an international candidate would get hired from Microsoft in Redmond? Specifically considering things like green cards, visas, etc.

Answer: Zoe and Gretchen discuss this same issue today on their blog. You may want to check out their site for details, but I can give you a high level answer. Yes, we do hire international candidates for roles here at Microsoft on Redmond. In fact, I like to think of our campus as a mosaic of different experiences and ethnicities and that makes this a really interesting place to work. One thing that does affect our ability to employ foreign nationals is the US H1-B immigration cap. Every year, the US government approves a set number of immigrant visas (for all of the US). Once that limit has been met, no more visas are processed until the next immigration year (which starts in October, if I'm not mistaken). Of course, there are regulations around qualifying for visas and you might want to check out the US Citizenship and Immigration Services web site for details.

Question: How does the resume database actually work at Microsoft? Do the resumes go directly to recruiters for that particular department or is it filed away and not looked at until it gets flagged by search criteria?

Answer: Another good question. When you apply to a position at Microsoft via our career site, your resume automatically goes into a candidate database. Your applicant is immediately tracked to the position you applied to. However, that does not keep other recruiters from being able to view it. So recruiters generally will find your resume a few different ways: by searching on who applied to specific positions and by doing key word search. Keyword searching proves most effective because we get such a large number of resumes every month and keywords help us narrow down the number we review for a specific position.

We also know that a large number of candidate resumes come from other places like job boards, employee referrals and sometimes via direct contact from a recruiter. Ultimately, all of these resumes also end up in the same candidates tracking system. However, because each recruiter utilizes different sources (which prove appropriate for the type of business they support), they may have resumes also coming into their e-mail boxes for review while also going immediately to our candidate tracking system. Recruiters spend lots of time searching our database (which is why many candidates get calls from recruiters regarding positions other than the ones they actually applied to). There's no harm in applying to the same position from more than one source (for example applying via the career site and then applying to the same position posted on an MBA alumni site). But you should know that keyword searching is how we find most of the candidates in our database and you really only need to send your resume in once to get it in there. So in this regard, having the right key words on your resume is probably the most important thing to focus on. Good luck!