By Dave Mendoza
Part 2 (Continued)
Kevin Stakelum is a Staffing Manager at Microsoft Corporation managing the Developer Division and Business Online Services Group (BOSG) staffing teams. Kevin has been responsible for managing the staffing activities, recruiting strategy and interview process development and implementation for the company’s US consulting services, product support and internal IT team. Currently he manages the staffing team supporting a developer tools product group and a hosted services product team. He currently manages the performance and career development of 12 Microsoft employees and the activity of 5 contractors who support the staffing activities for these two technical teams consisting of 3,700 people worldwide.
Kevin Stakelum personifies best practices in action. I have had the pleasure of knowing Kevin via online and through several in-depth phone conversations the last 1.5 years and finally we met in person at ERE. In each instance, few people are as energizing in a phone conversation or in person about their passion for strategic staffing. Kevin will go up ten escalators and back if it meant a new toy or idea in strategy was available to discuss, share and learn from and the enthusiasm is contagious – he empathizes with sincerity that rush you had when the light bulb first turned on in your head on a cool idea and he shows with uncommon sincerity that it has made the room glow. He is that consummate colleague with which one segways seamlessly between tales of family and the year in staffing, both in rewind and into the future – all the while with little pause and intense reflection following the exchange. Some whisper Microsoft has run its course from revolutionary to establishment, but dare I say that leaders like Kevin within the industry are giving the software giant that edge in the war for talent and maintaining its stature by fostering ideas.
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?
Kevin: Approximately 25% come from each (that varies depending on how you define using the corporate site as a source). We are working to increase referrals as a source of hires
Six Degrees: Where does your team derive the “Most Hires,” quantitatively?
Kevin: It should be Employee Referrals.
Six Degrees: What is the source of your “Lowest Cost per Hires” – (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality) at your present employer?
Kevin: Contingent conversions are the cheapest in that you just convert them you can do that quickly, the risks are lower since you likely have a body of feedback regarding the person’s work habits, etc, you could argue that there is a cost associated with hiring them as contractors, but in terms of costs directly attributed to a hire, they are likely the cheapest, quickest way to fill Full time employee positions. The question here is whether they are the best hires or are they just the best available right now.
Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?
Kevin: There are a large variety of our positions that fall into this category, including a group that is working on creating software for the multi-processing computers of the future.
Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?
Kevin: There is yearly recruiting training available and the staffing team that I joined (Server and tools business) is one that heavily invests in its people by dedicated a significant portion of a Staffing Consultant’s time to focus on providing recruiter training for our Staffing Consultants. The training has centered around business acumen and technology knowledge.
I have also attended a number of Manager Excellence training sessions that the company has created, in addition to the fantastic training that was available at the ERE.
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?
Kevin: I am heavily engaged in using Linkedin and I consider myself to be a thought leader in this space. Our teams also use an applicant tracking database that was developed for us.
Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?
Kevin: Note cards, a phone and a daily journal were my first tools of the trade.
Six Degrees: How did your expectations the first time they got on the phones or in their cubicle differ from the reality.
Kevin: Most are nervous the first few times that they call. We tell them to just be yourself, do not try to be this fancy talker or someone who is going to dazzle the candidate in some way. They will see through this and will feel that you are not being sincere.
Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t and how that was a learning.
Kevin: I helped to create a brilliant, tiered targeted marketing campaign that used advanced marketing techniques to identify specific candidate segments and then send them printed collateral that was specifically designed to attract candidates in their specific candidate pool. It was sophisticated, unique and expensive and it did not hire one person from the campaign. I learned that sometimes it is better to keep the model simple and then do really well with the implementation vs. trying to get too complex and then having it fail due to lack of effective execution.
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.
Kevin: I will continue to look for opportunities to present at industry conferences, either as I continue to standardize remote recruiting models, or in other areas yet to be identified. I am also using Linkedin to get our team’s message out, and in turn I think it is beginning to change opinions about recruiters in general (I am a follower of such leaders as Shally, Sheila Etheridge, Ted M. and others in this regardâ€¦but I think I am one of the few MS staffing managers doing this)
Six Degrees: ‘Best practice’ you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?
Kevin: 1) Created and delivered a consistent, repeatable interviewing process for the consulting business that supported the business’s efforts to regionalize the consulting teams and improved efficiency, predictability and candidate experience. One of the main components of this process was the improvement of the ‘finals day’ (which in and of itself is another best practice that I am proud of) which allowed better calibration of candidates, training of interviewers, and a more consistent outcome. 2) in the process of establishing a financial report in conjunction with our HR Business Partners and Finance that will allow us to discuss a historical representation of the headcount equation for the business at a worldwide level, but also includes a fwd looking component that ties into financial forecasting, workforce planning and staffing resource allocation.
Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?
Kevin: It would be great to be more planful of talent acquisition vs relying on requisition based recruiting. We are partnering with the business in this regard, and the business is on board, but there is some more work to do here.
Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org. which routinely undermined staffing team moral and efficiency?
Kevin: Allowing for a lack of accountability in the staffing process. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to provide whatever the business wants, but if there is no accountability around response times, consistent outcomes, consistent feedback loops, etc. then the process is likely going to be less than successful
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?
Kevin: The ability to impact my team in real and valuable ways while also building an organization in a tangible way and having a real impact in this regard.
Six Degrees: Ideally, what is the ‘one thing’ you wish to implementing/develop/invent professionally that has yet to be done?
Kevin: Truly creating a worldwide recruiting function that is aligned to a specific business (es) and can effectively and seamlessly shift support activities between countries as the needs of the business flows back and forth between those countries. Truly global would mean that you can support the needs of the business anywhere in the world with great staffing talent located anywhere in the world without delay.
Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?
Kevin: Yes. My peers are managers with a great deal of experience within the Server and Tools Staffing teams (the division that my team belongs to). There has been a recent Director change where the 3 of us really had to weather some challenging times to continue to drive the staffing business through major changes. I am proud of the way that we have pulled together under the leadership of our new Director
I would like to also mention the strong relationship and support that I have with the HR Director that I partner closely with. Without her support, my job would be much more challenging. She does a great job of establishing credibility with the business to the extent that she can help them to drive the people strategy of the business and is very supportive in terms of our activities and the coordination of the activities between our teams. She is one of the best leaders that I have worked with in this regard!
The Developer Division/BOSG Staffing team (my team). We have recently built a very strong team that I am extremely excited about. I say â€œweâ€ because it has truly been a team experience and one in which we came together to create an open and creative team environment in which great people want to work. The team has then united in working together to find great people to work with. We have a great mix of talent; an incredible existing team base to which we have added some impressive new staffing talent. I am very excited about the possibilities that exist with this team. The business hiring demand is very high, and I expect us to be able to deliver high quality solutions that will result in high volumes of strategic hiring (again, biased opinion
Six Degrees: How are you going to change the recruitment industry, if not the world?
Kevin: Keep trying new things and challenging myself to think of both new and old challenges in new ways. Remote managing, process engineering, international support and reporting, and using social networking as a staffing tool are all possible examples of ideas that I am working on that could become something really special. I am sure that I will not be the first to think of activities in these spaces, but there are opportunities to create something really powerful and unique in each of those areas. In addition, there are many projects/activities that will provide those types of opportunities in the future that I am not yet aware of. One thing that I have learned is that some of the things that I work on will work well and some may not so it will be interesting to see how they all shake out.