Getting Past the Gatekeeper During a Job Search

Every company has one and they are every jobseeker’s worst nightmare.  You probably picture them as a cloaked figure, hunched over a desk or peering into the computer screen like it’s a bubbling cauldron, laughing maniacally as they rip your resume into shreds.

Sure, our detailed picture may be a bit of an exaggeration, but every company has someone that fills the real-life role of employment opportunity gatekeeper.  Whether it be an administrative assistant, HR representative, or recruiter, if you’re looking to apply for a position you’ll need to get past and woo the one in charge of screening resumes.  If we’ve made this sound like a daunting task, no need to worry. Here we provide real-world advice for getting past the gatekeeper during a job search.

  1. Be polite and friendly – Whether it’s in your initial email correspondence or in a preliminary phone call, keep things polite and professional.  Regardless of your talent level, you’ll never make it past the gatekeeper for an interview shot if you don’t have your best manners on.
  2. Sound confident and assertive on the phone – Remember when you’re communicating with your initial company contact that you have the necessary skills and experience for the job.  Confidence in your abilities and an assertive attitude when laying out your qualifications will help the gatekeeper understand that you’re a serious contender for the open position.
  3. Ask for the person by first and last name – When sending your initial inquiry to the hiring manager, you should realize that in most cases the gatekeeper will screen all initial inquiries.  If you address your emails to the hiring manager by first and last name you will come off as professional and also give the suggestion that you have a prior professional familiarity with the individual who will ultimately make the hiring decisions.
  4. Get information, even if you can’t get through – Sometimes you may not be able to connect with the hiring manager due to differing schedules or job demands.  An outreach of communication, however, should never be a wasted opportunity. Even if you don’t connect, try to find out further details from the gatekeeper about the job opportunity, anticipated steps in the process or nuanced contact information such as the hiring manager’s preferred name.  
  5. Build rapport with the gatekeeper – Perhaps the best piece of advice for getting past the gatekeeper in your job search involves a personal touch.  When the opportunity strikes, do your best to develop a personal report with the gatekeeper. Call them by their first name and make polite social inquiries, such as asking how they like the company or commiserating with small talk over details like the weather.  If you have the gatekeeper on your side, instead of a hindrance they can often become your ally in scoring the position.

Final Thoughts on Gatekeepers

Whether it’s an HR representative or personal assistant, you can bet that there will be a person between you and the hiring manager for a given position that is responsible for screening resumes, phone calls and overall communication.  Your best bet will be to approach the position as a potential resource and ally in your job search, rather than a hurdle to overcome. Use your soft skills to make a solid connection and follow the rest of our advice and you’ll be well on your way to scoring that interview or job offer with your target company.

Article Updated from the Original on May 3, 2018