Meet Kay Kelison, Artist, Senior Sourcer, Speaker, Veteran and Proud Mother

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Meet my friend, Kay Kelison, a Senior Researcher Consultant with Microsoft's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group (APS). She is a renown internet sourcer with varied background in the IT, Wireless, and Financial Industries. In her day to day at one of the most prestigious software development companies in the world, Kay is often sourcing prospects for lead Developers, Engineers, Testers, Security, System Admins, Business System Analyst, Project Managers, Program Managers, Media, Marketing, Search, Research, Recruiting, Sourcing, Online Media, On-line Networking, Blogger, and Social Media, etc

I had the unique pleasure of getting to know Kay in Atlanta last September at Shally's BBQ mixer on his deck and was immediately charmed by her genuine warmth, humility, and passion for her work and family life. Nearly every speaker for Sourcecon paid a visit for a chance to mingle, talk shop and to taste some of the best ribs and brats in town - but my conversations struck me as memorable, notwithstanding it my first opportunity to finally meet Kay after hearing so much praise within common circles. She has this winning smile that speaks volumes about her ability to connect instantaneously on a human level that I found endearing. I made a friend, but likewise I found someone I grew to admire over the course of that evening. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to share her background with Recruitingblogs today.

Q &A with Kay Kellison

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

Kay: I have a partner named Mary Cay Kelison and we have been together for 18 years, She is my soul-mate and an awesome Sr. Technical Recruiter. When we met, I was a bartender studying art and she was a waitress while studying dance/linguistics/french. Our life has been blessed with two boys. They have captured our hearts and add their own imprints in our world. Deacon Blue Kelison leads the charge at three years old. Chase Orion Kelison, age one, challenges Deacon as well as keeps him grounded. Besides my partner, my boys are the best thing that has ever happened to me. We have a dog name Jaxx Magee (named after street-fighter) and a cat that thinks shes dog, her name is Colly Magum.

I was in the Navy for 6 years, traveled most of asia. Lived in Hawaii for those 6 years, honorable discharged in 1989 to go to art school. I have saved about 4 people’s lives , 2 dogs, and one cat. As an artist I have donated and sold my paintings around Seattle and on-line. I also make jewelry as a glass artist. I have donated time and art for the AIDS Foundation and Cancer Foundation which are very dear to my heart since I have lost a lot in my life to both diseases. I was brought up treating people that way I want to be treated and that when you see a stranger who is new to the area, or lost or need help. I without any hesitation will invite them to my home; especially around the holidays, I don’t like knowing someone is alone on the holidays. I also, will take the leftovers and we will hand out food to those on the street around our areas during the holidays.

Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?

Kay: Having ten years of experience, I have 10 years of strictly research, name generation. I don’t consider myself as a recruiter; I am a researcher who partners with recruiters. I also train and educate recruiters on all that is being offered and help them improve their knowledge of the forever changing web 2.0 generation.

My partner, and I are both in the industry. Her specialty is corporate recruiting and strategy with a focus on international. My role is strictly internet research, training, and establishing parameters of communication within an organization.

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

Kay: I am a Researcher/Trainer with AIRS Certification CIR, ACIR and I have been in the Recruiting Industry for 10+ years. I have made a career of Internet Research. As a Senior Internet Researcher and Trainer, I liken myself as a Sherlock Holmes of the Internet. I have great passion for the Internet and its unfathomable depths and unlimited potential. I believe in the hunt and don’t believe in stopping until I have found what I am looking for. I make strategic sourcing sense to my clients. With the demands of finding outstanding talent and keeping our internal customers happy, I form strong partnerships with Recruiters, working with them to create strategic plans and execute them so that clients are satisfied with the team’s efforts and results. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing companies: Saltmine, Amazon, Microsoft –Ad Center as well as Microsoft India, Wachovia, T-Mobile…. At the present time I am the Sr. Researcher (aka Researchologist) for Microsoft Corporation in the APS group where I am a key player in building, training and setting the strategy for the Sourcing team. My approach adds value to Recruiting, explores, and exploits all old and new techniques for the best results.

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?

Kay: I would say working for a start up company; it empowered me to carve out my niche. My passion for creating the research need and it gave me the means to develop my skills. With the support of those who saw me as a diamond in the rough… look at me now. I am a diamond! The manager who gave me this opportunity is no longer in the field, but I am sure he would be very pleased where I am in my career and would say “I knew it all the time”

Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?

Kay: I don’t have just one Mentor, I would say I have several who in most cases don’t even know the influence they have on me. Here are a few people that I appreciate for their influence on the sourcing industry Shally Steckerl, Rob Macintosh, Amy Beth Hale, Moises Lopez, and Carmen Hudson just to name a few. In someway, these are folks who helps confirm what I do, is a great validation and importance in our world of recruiting. To them, I would like to say Thank you!

Six Degrees: Tell us about your job

Kay: I am the Sr. Researcher (aka Researchologist) for Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group (APS) at Microsoft Corporation where I am a key player in building, training and setting the strategy for the sourcing team. At any given time I will be working with 2 - 12 recruiters. My relationships with recruitment staff is very important to me. The goal is to effectively communicate needs on both sides so we can accomplish some of the difficulties of finding top passive talent. My work is to take some of the pressure off the recruiters and do most if not all of the internet name generation, sourcing, research, etc so that recruiters can focus on developing the passive and/or active candidate relationships. It is important to me that WE as a team work together to be sure candidate as well as the hiring manager has the best experience possible while working with our teams.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your industry involvement.

Kay: I spoke at SourceCon 2008, it was my first time and it was the best experiencing to have the support of my peers in the industry. I really want to make change and become more proactive in educating others as well as being a SME in my field. I still feel that my job is relatively new concept to recruiting in a way that there needs to be distinguished role in order to accomplish all the different approaches in conquering the multi facets in our growing technology.

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal?

Kay: I would like to get into a leadership role focusing on research, training, mentoring and speaking about to leverage each other’s skills and passion. As I work with recruiters and partner with the businesses of the company, the demands that both sides are facing in hiring talented candidates needs to have a synergy between the Research/Source/Recruitment/Hiring process. I want to be a part of a new movement and make change in recruiting. Recruiting in general is still having a hard time understanding the value of “specialized” individuals since the industry seems to want to create a super recruiter that can do all things. This process is broken when you have so many burnt out recruiters that are tired of working to the brink of exhaustion. We need to divide our roles and responsibilities to make work more creative, effective as well as efficient. With the new Web 2.0 generation, it’s just too much to have one individual to succeed. Let’s make the change together!

Six Degrees: Tell us of your other passions in life beyond work in our industry.

Kay: As a hard hitting internet researchologist and data manipulating mad woman – most would not picture the artist that paints Picasso like abstracts as well as creator of glass jewelry and especially not, the six year career in the United States Navy. My family taught service above self and to help those in need. Mary Cay and I continue that philosophy and way of life with our sons, be being involved with the homeless over the holidays and charity work. My time and various artworks have been donated to both the AIDS Foundation as well as the Cancer Foundation. Like most Americans, we have lost so many to those diseases.

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

Kay: I feel very strongly about how communications is broken in our own recruiting world. If we don’t address some of the issues that we face as a recruiting function, then we will never move ahead with the ever changing technology regardless of the industry. We need to utilize our strengths and interest that we hold within the recruiting industry. In recruiting, we tend to make hiring and candidates a “process” and tend to forget about the “human” part of human resources. I decided a long time ago to focus on the research/sourcing aspects of recruiting because of the vast amount of information and the forever changing ways to connect with the talent that is available passively. I am finding more and more corporations are trying to save money by asking one recruiter to do it ALL. This is a major problem, because no one can do it all and be effective, efficient, and still love their job. In fact we have lost a lot of good recruiters because of lack of work life balance that company’s claim they have. I want (will) to be part of a new kind of recruiting and make changes in our industry that support multiple resources to provide the best human experience for candidates and clients alike. We need to start looking at passion, expertise, specialization, to be key factors in areas that we are able to provide research/sourcing/recruiting to humanize the process. By empowering an individual and giving them the education to accomplish these things, then we as team will be stronger and better. My motto: Knowledge is Power and Sharing is Caring! I love working with recruiters and businesses that benefit from my passion and knowledge!

Recommendations For Kay

“I worked with Kay at and found her to be a thorough, diligent researcher and sourcer. Kay's knowledge of search, research and sourcing continues to impress me, and her ability to quickly understand the elements of a search would benefit any organization. Moreover, she is fun to work with!” May 10, 2005
Carmen Hudson

“Kay is a sourcing PHENOMENON! I am consistently amazed at her ability to network with and discover amazing talent for her teams - she is also incredibly gracious in sharing her knowledge with her peers - Kay is passionate about sourcing, and her talent at it is well known - she recently spoke at SourceCon '08. Any organization that is looking to grow and flourish will be lucky to have Kay as a part of the team. She's a star!” September 15, 2008
Mary Hurlock-Murphy, Lead Recruiter, Avenue A | Razorfish

“Kay is on the cutting-edge of deep search and candidate sourcing. When ever I work with Kay, I feel like I come away learning something new. Kay is a true wealth of knowledge when it comes to interactive search and sourcing and it has been a real pleasure working with her.” May 1, 2008
Peter Kaye, Sr. Recruiter, Avenue A Razorfish

“Kay is by far one of the best Sourcers/Recruiters I've worked with. Her knowledge and expertise is boundless and unmeasurable. She's always coming up with excellent strategies and ideas on sourcing and candidate generation. She's a pleasure to work with.” May 1, 2008
Jenafer Park, Recruiter, Atlas, a Microsoft Corporation subsidiary

“Kay is best, if you need to find anyone or anything via the web she will show you how!!! She is a self taught master at web sourcing, she spends 1:1 time with every new Recruiter on my team and I always take advantage of getting her on my calendar to learn new tricks of the trade. She is best I have worked with; she is always available and loves to help. A definite team player who thrives on helping my team become more successful. Highly recommend” May 1, 2008
Shannon Barbour, Recruiting Manager, Avenue A | Razorfish

“Kay is an incredible team-mate. Her experience, knowledge, drive, determination and creativity really shine through, and you see it when you work with her. Her passion for research, how to use it, how to share it are all things that make her great at her job,. Kay is a pleasure to work with and an awesome team member. GO TEAM SPIDERS!” November 9, 2007
Bryan Reichert, Prospecting and Networking Manager, aQuantive, a Microsoft subsidiary

“Kay is an amazing sourcer! She comes up with candidates that are right on. Kay assumes ownership and does what it takes to get the job done. I recommend her without any reservations.” June 6, 2007
Nelia Hayes, Senior Recruiter (Account Manager), Microsoft - Windows Live

“Kay is a very smart, dedicated worker that is motivated by using key sourcing techniques to find information that enables recruiters.” July 7, 2005
Tameiko Davis, Senior Technical Recruiter, Washington Mutual

“This woman is phenomenal at what she does. She is able to source potential candidates quickly when others have failed. I recommend her without reservation...she is excellent at what she does.” June 17, 2005
Vicki Cohen, Staffing Manager, Saltmine

“Kay is one of the brightest stars in internet research I have had the privelege of working with; she is also one of the most determined when it comes to producing results. Professional, fast, and very committed to the needs of the organizations she represents, Kay is a recruiter's dream to work with!” June 5, 2005
Claudia Faust

“I worked with Kay at both Amazon and T-Mobile. Kay would source candidates and I was her customer as a technical recruiter for both companies. Kay is excellent at finding good people and she gets what you are looking for very quickly. She uses her intelligence to find what you want. She is persistent and reliable and I would recommend her highly for sourcing. She adds value to any recruiting team.” May 12, 2005
Perry Brunner

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Replies to This Discussion

Hey Dave! Thanks for highlighting such great talent in our industry. Kay continues to shine at Microsoft and as a Web 2.0 visionary. She is bringing cutting edge thoughts to the table and implementing them. Love working with her!
Great article, Kay is one of the best in the industry and it is awesome to learn more about her.
Another wonderful post by Dave ~ look forward to meeting u Kay and learn from you ~ Thank u for sharing ur wonderful life stories. Best, Susan
Kay is an amazing person with "Off the Charts Talent" and it is great to see people like her recognized for their hard work and vision within this industry! I really enjoy following Kay’s S.P.I.D.E.R.S Team blog!
Kay Rocks!
Hi Kay,

It is great to meet you via this interview-very cool background and set of values. Would love to meet you in person one day and compare "Sherlock Holmes" notes ;-)

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