Employment Branding: The Maker Vs. The Manager

Holland Dombeck McCue Employment Branding and Culture, Holland Dombeck, HR, Organizational Development, Work Life Balance, Working With Recruiters

I recently rediscovered Paul Graham’s classic 2009 essay, “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule,” and it’s making me reevaluate how I approach my work.

In the article, Graham breaks information workers and their schedules into two categories:

  • Managers (e.g., line managers, project managers, and other “boss” types), and
  • Makers (e.g., writers, designers, and other creative or analytical types).

A Manager’s schedule is reminiscent of a traditional appointment book, where time is broken into one-hour segments and the owner often changes what they’re doing frequently throughout the day. These types of schedules are often meeting-intensive days, and any making/pet projects typically take place after hours or on the weekend. Most companies operate to meet this schedule. Makers, on the other hand, need to operate on a less conventional schedule.

“When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.”


“I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning.”

There is a lot of noise, and I would even say pressure, on recruiters today to “do” employment branding off the side of their desk. However, recruiters traditionally operate on a manager’s schedule:

  • Sourcing blocks
  • Processing candidates through an ATS workflow
  • Interviews blocks
  • Intake sessions
  • Creating Submittals
  • Offers and Onboarding

Recruiters – by the nature of their role – have a difficult time making things during the workweek. Maybe they squeeze in an uplifting and empowering webinar, but that high is often deflated when the realities of their Outlook calendar set in. But that’s not to say you can’t protect your maker moments…

  1. Rethink manager time and proactively block time for your maker time – even if it’s bi-weekly to start! Graham acknowledged that he would have to devote a block of hours to meet with start-ups. He also set up a separate block for programming code – usually dinner time to 3 a.m. While dinner to 3 a.m. might be unrealistic for most, sticking around the office from 6-8pm once a week could easily be achieved by the willing.
  2. Communicate your schedule and stick to your guns. Tell your boss, your friends, your partner, yourself! Own it and don’t let them (or you) derail your desire to make.
  3. Find or create an environment to make the most of your maker time. Find a place where distractions are limited and check your phone at the door. Enter your environment with a desired outcome in mind and proactively work towards achieving it during your block. Need a little help? Try this.
  4. Document your progress – both in sticking to your calendar and the things that you’re making. Reference your progress as future motivation. If you fall off the wagon (**it happens) get back on.

I’m proud to work for a company that has recognized the need to have employment branding as a support function to the talent acquisition process; however, the current state of my calendar is a disservice to my team. A strong employment brand takes time to make and I’ll be focused on protecting my maker time starting today.