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.