Q: Give us a sentence or two about your background and current role at Microsoft. We know what a staffing manager does, but what is an employee evangelist?
Heather: Starting in May, my role is going to be focused on leading the team responsible for our global staffing research strategy. I am really excited about this work. Although “employee evangelist” is not a title here at Microsoft, I use my opportunities (blogging, public speaking….anything that provides visibility) to help people understand the Microsoft employment experience. I use a lot of my personal experiences to help people see us as a group of passionate, smart people doing cool work. I’m still excited to come to work every day.
Q: What recommendations do you have for women who really want to stand out when competing for a specific job?
Heather: I encourage women to view their resume as a hiring company would. Does it match the specific job to which the person has applied? Does the resume focus on results delivered? I encourage applicants to tailor their resume to the specific job (or function) that they are interested in, and use some of the “key words” from the job description in their resume. For example, if someone is interested in product strategy, they might find that a company titles those roles “product management” and they also may see a deliverable referred to as a “PRD” or “product requirements document.” If those phrases appear in the job description, it’s highly likely that a recruiter will use those phrases when searching resumes, so use the same verbiage when you talk about your past experience. Given the high volume of resumes that some companies receive, recruiters have to use search technology to do their jobs effectively. So taking some time to optimize the “findability” of your resume with key words tied to a particular position is very important.
Q: What do you feel are the biggest barriers for women today looking to secure a new position or promotion? Will you share some of your personal secrets to success?
Heather: Well, I am no expert in the differences between women and men with regard to work culture. But one recommendation I have, which I learned through experience, is that you usually don’t get something unless you ask for it. I thrive on change and challenge. There came a point in my recruiting career at Microsoft where I was feeling a little stagnant. I found new work around programs that I felt we should be doing as a company and knew I was the right person to be doing it (and it fit within our overall charter as a group). So I wrote a new job description for myself, came up with some talking points on why this work was beneficial to our business and presented it to my manager at the time. Because I could tie the work to our business charter, it made sense to my chain of command. Plus they could see that I was passionate about the work (and had already had some success in doing this kind of work in addition to my core responsibilities; I like to “try things out”). All the pieces fell into place and the new job was created for me. Now we have a small team of people doing the type of work I had proposed. This was a turning point in my career.
Q: We noticed that you just returned from Australia, and participated in a few adventurous activities. Do we sense a daredevil in you? What was your favorite experience from that trip?
Heather: Hmm, I am usually not a daredevil when it comes to physical activities but I do like to challenge myself in general. I had decided that during the trip I was going to try things I normally would not have tried. Fear is not something that I like in myself. So the opportunity to overcome it in a controlled setting was really appealing to me. I took my first helicopter ride and climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I’ll look back on those experiences not only feeling good about the experience itself but that I gained personal growth in the process. I don’t know if this counts as an “experience” but my favorite thing about the trip was the Australian people. We should all aspire to be so light-hearted and friendly. Or maybe that is just another area of personal growth for me!