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Part 2: AstraZeneca’s Christine McKenzie Goes Lyrical, “Corporate Staffing Best Practices – The Musical”

Posted on August 4, 2010
Filed Under Interviews | 3 Comments

Chrissy McKenzie, Sourcing Partner
Commercial Non-Sales, Operations & Enabling at AstraZeneca
Corporate Website
• Community Volunteering: Habitat for Humanity, Haiti Relief, Big Brother Big Sister – Harrisburg PA
• Office: 302-885-4227
• Cell: 610-952-2974
Personal Email

Six Degrees: How many applicants at your present employer do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?

Chrissy: This is a dynamic figure, but the range for employee referrals is 28% to 35% and 32% to 38% for corporate website.

Six Degrees: What is the source of the “Most Hires” collected from at your present employer? (In terms of Quantity #)

Chrissy: We are unable to accurately measure given the limitation of our ATS. We currently track to the number of landings to our career site. Internet Boards currently have driven the most traffic to our career site.

Six Degrees: What is the source of your “LOWEST COST OF HIRES” – (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality) at your present employer?

Chrissy: We are unable to accurately measure given the limitation of our ATS. We currently track to the number of landings to our career site. Postings to key niche sites and search engines have resulted in a lower than average cost per landing.

Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?

Chrissy: We see key talent targets in Operations/Supply Chain/Engineering, Corporate Functions, Finance, IS architects and project managers, Legal, Intellectual Property, and pharmacists with business acumen.

Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?

• We currently use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques which serve as effective tools to improve the volume and quality of traffic to a web site. This also improves AZs search relevancy (organic search results).
• A tool effective in building pipelines and keeping potential candidates engaged is the use of a Candidate Relationship Database (CRM). Through segmentation and targeting, AZ employs a communication matrix to connect with key talent targets and potentials.
• MicroSite or Landing Page has been an effective tool to target potentials with critical, niche and difficult to find skill sets. Thus allowing us to appeal to and attract key talent targets with relevant and engaging information specifically for them.
Six Degrees: What recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?

Chrissy: At AstraZeneca, we use a variety of tools globally to build online networks and communities of candidates. Looking at the team as a whole, I feel we have most successfully utilized LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been a great tool that Recruitment Partners and Sourcers have used globally. It’s a tool that we can use to help meet each other half way around the world. I have introduced my peers to great candidates local to their geography and they have done the same for me. Outside of sharing candidates, LinkedIn has been a great source for conversation between each country’s recruitment team based on its searchabilty from google. Sharing search strings and ways to find candidates outside of our networks has been a fun journey. We even have a few shared case studies to show our success and partnerships in working collaboratively with the tool.

(“What’s mine is yours to leave or take..What’s mine is yours to make your own” – The Fray, Look After You)

Six Degrees: What tools did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?

Chrissy: This is a great question. As for tools, when I first started out, my only tool was my “attitude”. Let me explain what I mean. When I first began recruiting, we didn’t have much in the way of technology. It might have been out there, but the company that I was working for was old school and didn’t purchase much. LinkedIn was new and the company that I was working for couldn’t afford AIRS certifications for everyone. Sure we had Zoom and Hovers but really that was only to kick start the process. Basically, I listened to the guy at the desk next to me make a few calls on my first day as an official Recruiter. I became bored just listening and picked up the phone. Yes, the first few calls were brutal, but I found a balance between polite and direct and it worked. I watched what others were doing online and copied it. I read articles on sourcing and asked a ton of questions. It was my goal to learn something, anything, new each day. Believe it or not, I think this was a great way to start out in the industry. Was it difficult to find people? Yes, at times, however it taught me to be resourceful with very little available information. It also taught me how to have great verbal conversations with candidates. In today’s times, it can be so easy to communicate through email and text messages without even picking up the phone. Picking up the phone and making the exchange past an internet conversation personal is really what I believe recruiting is all about. I can type until I am blue in the face…I can use CAPS and exclamation points to show passion in my writing but you are still missing the tone and reflection in my voice. These are things that I look for in conversations with candidates. Voice tone, a pause, even rambling can say a lot without having to be specific. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for all of the technology we have today. Our “upgraded” way of recruiting has allowed me to reach my time to fill goals much faster than ever before. It has also allowed me to have great telephone and face to face conversations with many more candidates. I believe it was my genuine interest in recruiting and my attitude that I was going to make it happen that helped me to find the foundation of being a recruiter.

(“I’m feelin’ good from my head to my shoes…Know where I’m goin’ and I know what to do..I tidied up my point of view…I got a new attitude” – Patty LaBelle, New Attitude)

Six Degrees: How did your expectations of being a recruiter compare to the actual, first time you got on the phone or in the cubicle? In your opinion, how do people’s assumptions about our vocation differ from reality?

Chrissy: The first time I picked up the phone I dialed with confidence. There was no script available (who needs one anyway, this is easy!) I had everything I needed: a list of names and telephone numbers that were previously sourced and the job description. When the person on the other line answered, all of my confidence went right out the window. As I mentioned, I had listened to a few calls and thought it seemed “easy”. Luckily, I was listening to a talented recruiter that had a lot to share. The call went something like this:

Candidate: Hello?
Me: Hello?
Candidate: Who is this?
Me: Ummmm, My name is Chrissy and I have an opportunity to share with you. Do you have a few minutes to spend with me to learn more?
Candidate: Thanks but I am not interested
Me: Ummmm
Candidate: *click*

I actually sat holding the phone in place so long that the dial tone began to beep in my ear. What had just happened? That’s not what happens to the guy at the desk next to me that was now laughing hysterically at me! So I hung up and asked him to show me again. This time, I really paid attention. I took notes. The next call went something like this:

Candidate: Hello?
Me: Hello, My name is Chrissy, I am calling from ABC on behalf of DEF. Are you licensed with your Series 6 and 63?
Candidate: Yes I am, why do you ask?
Me: Great, I am working on an opportunity that you could be a match for.
Candidate: Thanks but I am not interested in making a change.
Me: How do you know what you are saying no to until you hear me out? If no next steps are gained from this call, at the very least, you will know a bit more about your role at a competitor.
Candidate: Okay, what is it….

I looked up and saw the nod of approval from my new mentor and knew I had found my groove. That first year I placed over 150 people for my client.

(“Shake your groove thing, shake your groove thing, yeah, yeah..Show ’em how we do it now” Peaches and Herb, Shake Your Groove Thing)

Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t — and how that was a learning experience?

Chrissy McKenzie: A lousy practice where I was a victim comes to mind. It’s actually really funny. Well, it was for me at least. Before joining AstraZeneca, I interviewed with a large well known staffing firm for a Recruiter /Business Development role. The interview process was quite intense. There was a multiple choice test, a panel interview, a one on one interview, a 30-60-90 day paper due and a case study type situation. I made it through the first 4 levels of the process leaving the final case study to complete. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in the case study but at that point I wasn’t about to give up and let the process win. I was taken to the bull pen and introduced to the guy that drove the yellow Ferrari parked out front. I guess that was supposed to be inspiring? The office manager sat me down at the next desk and placed a phone in-front of me. It became clear that the case study was about making live calls while the manager listened in. Fine – whatever. I was given a list of names in my right hand and told to call the first person and pitch them the job description that I was now holding in my left hand. You could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet. The hiring manager had smirk on his face showing his complete happiness in making others uncomfortable. I picked up the phone and dialed the first number. Long story short, the “candidate” had just resigned and joined another organization. Instead of hanging up as instructed, I put the job description down and started talking to the guy. Where are you going? What type of business is it? Where is it located? I could tell the hiring manager was getting irritated because “time was money” as he had already mentioned a few times. By the time I hung up, I had the candidates new information, including his new managers name and contact information. The company he was going to was local, and they were hiring. Based on the relationship I was able to quickly build with the candidate, he asked for my name so he could recommend that his new boss reach out to me for their hiring needs. Seeing as I didn’t have a desk or my own line, I gave him the hiring managers information. He also provided a few referrals that were keeping their options open. I added them to the name list. When I hung up, the hiring manager quickly said: “That Never Happens!” to which I responded: “Apparently it does.” He offered me the job and I declined it on the spot. It felt great to know that I could still perform well in a high pressure situation, but I knew that negative environment wasn’t for me. As I walked out, I kinda felt bad for the guy with the Ferrari. Sometimes, it just not worth it.

(“Can call all you want but there’s no one home, you’re not gonna reach my telephone” – Lady Gaga, Telephone)

Six Degrees: How do you personally expect to facilitate change within our industry, and/or at your place of work? If you started that process, outline the problem, your solutions, and the vision.

Chrissy: I think the best way to facilitate change is to lead by example. Successful results are hard to argue with. No one is perfect. No one recruiter will have the perfect candidate for every role given to them every single time. Which in a way is good. Think about it. If someone is perfect, they are almost impossible to follow. Following someone that is perfect is like playing a game with a person that never lets you win. Sure the competitive piece is fun, but after a while it gets discouraging and boring. There is always going to be someone more strategic, faster, more networked..whatever..then you are. Learn from them and share your learning’s with others. In the war for talent, it’s much better to show up at the battle with a team then alone.

(“In a New York minute…everything can change…” – Don Henley, In a New York Minute)

Six Degrees: “Best practice” you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?

Chrissy: I am learning from my MBA classes that I am what is termed a “soft skill” person. Soft skills is a sociological term relating to a person’s “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces. Soft skills are also defined as ones personal management skills such as attitudes and behaviors that drive one’s potential for growth and team work skills. Honestly, at first I was in denial when I learned this about myself. I thought that meant weak, non-strategic and/or analytical. How could I be a sourcer and not be strongest in strategy and analytics?! How embarrassing for me! But the more I thought about it, the more I noticed that this is in fact my style. The best practice that comes to mind is more of a soft skill example. I have a rule for myself. Whenever I receive a voicemail, I call whomever it is back within 24 hours. Whenever I receive a resume, I follow up within 24 -48 hours. I respond to those that reach out to me via LinkedIn, on Twitter and other social networks that I am a part of. I provide honest feedback to those that want to hear it. I help those that I can by at least sharing their interest with someone that might be able to help when I personally can not. Why? It helps people and in turn, people usually help me as well. People know I am not going to leave them hanging. We live in such a small world, and even smaller by industry. I can’t tell you how many calls I receive weekly from candidates that start like this: “A colleague of mine suggested I reach out to you to introduce myself…” To me, that is a win. I may not place either of these people in my organization, but my personal brand has grown successfully. My network isn’t made up of “names”. It’s made up of people. Let’s face it. Recruiters have a lot of the same names in their databases, especially for niche roles. There are only so many people at the top of the talent pools. When a top talent candidate gets two calls from two recruiters, they might call both back. They should call both back. But in the end, the chances are strong that they are going to go with the one they trust has their best interest and the company’s best interest in mind. Anyone can make a cold call. It’s the warm call that takes talent.

(“Call me on the line, call me, call me anytime”, Blondie, Call Me)

Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?

Chrissy: In general, often times people pin the saying: “You are only as good as your last search” on Recruiters. I could understand this if Recruiting was a “job” but I see it as a “career”. It’s like saying I love visiting Disney World but I had to wait in line recently so I am never going back.

(“Cuz we lost it all, nothing lasts forever, I’m sorry I can’t be perfect” – Simple Plan, Perfect)

Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org?

Chrissy: The absence of feedback from hiring managers and candidates. At times, when we miss feedback from either party, our role as a Recruiter becomes that much harder. From a hiring manager perspective: pausing for a moment to provide better information can aid in our research to find the right candidates. From a candidate perspective: letting us know why, if you are not interested, can open the door to the next conversation for the right role. We are experts in recruiting, not always in the daily minutiae of the roles that we are recruiting for. At times, we don’t know what we don’t know. And that can lead to unsuccessful results.

(“Oh, let the walls burn down, set your secrets free, You can break their bounds, cause you’re safe with me” – Stevie Nicks, Talk to Me)

Six Degrees: Considering all of the frustrations you have experienced in your career as a recruiter, — what inspires you as you continue in your career?

Chrissy: What inspires me? What doesn’t inspire me these days! Recruiting today is completely different then it was pre social media and social networking. I enjoyed recruiting back when information was less available and I even more so enjoy it now that there is an overload of information available. Recruiting isn’t cut and dry. There isn’t one strategy that has been used year after year. It is consistently reinventing itself. We are reinventing it. When I think about Recruiting, I picture it as a large table top puzzle. Many pieces have been put in place and those pieces hold the foundation. There is a picture forming as we are connecting pieces over time, but it’s still a mystery what the puzzle will exactly look like when completed. You can use your imagination to create what the end result will look like, but there are still pieces of the puzzle that we will need to “earn” over time. In most cases, the past predicts the future. I like believing that the best is yet to come. I like talking to people and positively impacting their careers. I like hearing candidates smile over the phone when I share their successful interview results. I like attending our year end meetings and seeing the employees I recruited win awards and be acknowledged for the contributions they brought to our organization. I like continuing to network with employees that I recruited in the hallways, in the café and in meetings at work. I could go on and on…but I think it’s clear that I honestly enjoy getting up every day and working as a Recruiter. I have a sense of pride for the work that I do. In the end, regardless if you are great at your job, whatever job that might be, that’s what I believe to be most important.

(“You should know, everywhere I go, Always on my mind, in my heart, In my soul” – Chicago, You’re the Inspiration)

Six Degrees: What one thing do you ideally hope to accomplish in 2010?

Chrissy: There are many things that I hope to accomplish in and after 2010. One in particular would be starting my own blog. I plan to do so after completing my MBA in December. I read a lot and I have learned a lot from reading…and I am pretty sure I have enough to say. Until then, the rest is still unwritten.

(“Drench yourself in words unspoken..Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins..the rest is still unwritten” – Natasha Bedingfeild, Unwritten)

Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?

Chrissy: Visit the Astra Zeneca Careers Universe!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Jobs Site: http ://
CRM: Candidate/Prospect Relationship Database

Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?

Chrissy: I don’t expect to change anything alone. I plan to remain flexible with change, to continue to try new things with an open mind and to share what I have learned with everyone that will listen. I promise not to ever take myself too seriously but continue to do the best job that I can every day for the business that I am employed by, myself, my peers and my candidates.

(“If you need a friend, don’t look to a stranger, You know in the end, I’ll always be there” – When In Rome, The Promise)


3 Responses to “Part 2: AstraZeneca’s Christine McKenzie Goes Lyrical, “Corporate Staffing Best Practices – The Musical””

  1. Recruiting Animal on August 5th, 2010 2:31 pm

    Chrissie, Dave, when I’m looking at a video with Lady Gaga and Beyonce in it, I’m looking at Beyonce. I just thought you’d want to know.

  2. Dave Graziano on August 9th, 2010 10:44 am

    Excellent insight and candor!

  3. Stacey Walters on August 16th, 2010 5:49 am

    Chrissy, This is fantastic!…not being in the field, it gives me a much better understanding of what you do. Dave, great mix of professional and personal information to make it both interesting and informative. Excellent!