Getting Past the Gatekeeper During a Job Search

Every company’s hiring process is set up differently; however, it’s not uncommon for there to be a “gatekeeper,” or someone who sifts through applicants’ resumes and selects the ones to put in front of the hiring manager. Gatekeepers are usually the administrative assistant, HR representative, or recruiter.

So how can you increase your chances of getting past the gatekeeper and getting in front of the hiring manager? Here are some tips:

  1. Be polite and friendly – There’s a person on the other end of the phone, so remain respectful and courteous, even if they act apathetic or rude.

  2. Sound confident and assertive on the phone – Instead of sounding as if you’re asking permission to speak with the person, you need to speak with authority, requesting to be transferred to the hiring manager.

  3. Ask for the person by first and last name – Don’t use the term “Mr.” or “Ms.” when calling for the hiring manager because it can send a signal to the gatekeeper that you don’t have a personal relationship with the manager. Close acquaintances and business associates don’t usually call each other “Mr.”  or “Ms.”  but are on a first name basis.

  4. Get information, even if you can’t get through – If you can’t get through to the person you’d like to speak with, make it a point to come out of the conversation with a little more information than you had before. Find out the name of the hiring manager, the best time to call, the best way to get in contact with them, or even if they typically go by a nickname (like Sue, instead of Susan) or for the pronunciation of their name.

  5. Build rapport with the gatekeeper – Take the time to get to know the person on the front lines against incoming calls. Learn their name and make sure to refer to them by it. A sense of humor can bring you and the gatekeeper together, and increase your chances of getting through to the hiring manager.

If it takes multiple times to get through to the hiring manager, try to keep a positive attitude. By communicating clearly and confidently, you will eventually get through. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another person, so adjust your efforts based on your experience.

What’s worked for you in the past when trying to get through gatekeepers to reach the hiring manager for a position you want? Share your experiences in the comments!