People are often amazed to get an actual response from a real person when they send their resume to me. Heck, I remember what it's like to be looking for a position and what it's like to wait for a Microsoft recruiter to get back to you. And I remember how not hearing back from someone can truly drive you nuts.

But I wanted to share with you the reality of recruiting and why you may sometimes feel like your resume has been sucked into some kind of vortex. I think you'll feel a little better after you hear what I have to say (and frankly, I need to say this on behalf of all of the recruiters out there because I have seen some job-seekers really go to town on this topic in some discussion groups). Today I can only speak to the reality of recruiting at Microsoft but I suspect that recruiters at many other firms are in the same boat.

So here's the deal: on an average day at Microsoft, we get over 5,000 resumes (don't let that freak you out though...large companies get a high volume of applicants...that's just how it is). I don't know exactly how many recruiters we have here, but let's say 100 (I think that's probably rounding way up). So, for us to follow up with all of the applicants on any given day, each recruiter would have to contact 50 people each. This is in addition to sourcing, screening, matching resumes, interviewing, and client engagement. It's just not possible for us to follow up individually with everyone that applies.

So when you do apply via our careers page, you get an automatically generated message that says something to this effect: "Thanks! We will contact you directly if we have something that matches your background." OK, so it's more eloquent than that but you get the idea.  Anyone who knows me around here, knows that my mantra is "we need to work on the RIGHT things" (anyone I work with sick of hearing me say this?). So I am actually OK with us pushing out this automated message. It let's the candidate know their resume got through OK and sets the appropriate expectation: that we will follow up with the people that we feel match a position we have open right now. I'd rather we have the recruiters spending their time doing things that get the candidates in the door for interviews. I'd rather have them actively keyword searching our database for the resumes that match what they are working on right now (and they do). So just know that your resume isn't in a black hole, it's being searched on actively. And as a candidate, you should be encouraged by that.

OK, now for the commitment part. I recently attended the CareerXRoads Colloquium and heard Gerry and Mark talk at length about the need for staffing departments to get back to everyone that applies (including generating automated responses). I started to think about this and although I think I am very good about responding to everyone that contacts me personally, I want to make a public commitment to respond via e-mail to every marketing person who send me their resume. But if 5,000 of you e-mail me tomorrow, there will definitely be some cut and paste action going on with regard to the initial response; ). I'm just saying ; )

Here's what this means:

1) I will confirm that I have received your resume (you don't need to generate an eloquent cover letter...just let me know what you are looking for and whether you are willing to relocate). Also, drop an auto signature or current contact info into the e-mail. If you really want us to look at your stuff quickly, you should not only include your resume as an attachment but cut and paste it into the body of the mail...less clicks for us that way. Smart, huh?

2) I will enter the resume directly into our database (again, recruiters are in there searching all day, every day). Hint: make sure you have thought about the keywords on your resume relative to the type of role you are seeking (you've heard me say this before).

3) I will review the resume personally and forward it directly to the marketing recruiters that I feel will be interested in your background based on your functional skills, experience and industry focus. It will show up in their inbox and I'll be sure to highlight some of your skill areas to the recruiters as well.

4) I will be honest with you. If your background doesn't match what we look for for marketing roles, I will tell you (it just may mean that your skills fit into a different functional category..still happy to get your info into our database though). If there's anything else that I think may impact you being considered for roles here, I'll definitely let you know (like ability to relocate, etc.). That's just how I am.

Unfortunately, because I don't "own" any open position requisitions myself, I won't be able to follow up on specific opportunities. But there is nothing keeping interested recruiters from contacting you directly and they will do it quickly if they've got a current opening that fits your background.

I hope that this alleviates some of the angst involved in applying. And I want you to know that the "auto-response" thing does not mean that we don't appreciate your interest in Microsoft. We absolutely do appreciate it! Just send me your resume and I'll be sure to thank you individually ; )

(9/30 edit: Yowza...forgot to put my e-mail address in here: heathham@microsoft.com)