Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking and job search part 5 – gatekeepers

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 16, 2009

Do you have to go through a gatekeeper such as an administrative assistant to reach an intended networking contact such as a potential hiring manager for one of your target positions? This is a common situation and certainly if you are looking for a more senior position or a position with a large organization. Find out who the gatekeepers are and contact them specifically. Tell them who you are and who you want to reach, and why and be candid. Make it clear you appreciate and respect their schedule limitations and time pressures and treat them as respected colleagues and not just as barriers between you and the people you want to reach.

Cultivate the gatekeepers you connect with, with the goal of turning them into your allies. If you call back and speak with them a second time, be sure you do so with notes from your earlier conversation handy and reviewed. Gatekeepers can be your best friends who will tell you when their boss is going to be available late the next evening and tip you off on important networking preferences they have when reached.

Needless to say, always be ready in case you do find yourself talking directly with that hiring manager or whomever it is you are trying to reach through their gatekeepers. That possibility is precisely where that practice with non-hiring colleagues and some of your C level targets can pay off. That will help you switch gears calmly and smoothly and stay on message.

This is usually thought of as applying mostly to phone calls but a lot of senior managers use more than one email address with a more publically visible one filtered through their gatekeeper just like their phone calls are.

The next part of this series, part 6 is going to delve into networking around a company to develop an in-house support team and for gaining deeper insider knowledge and insight.

5 Responses

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  1. Polprav said, on October 23, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

    • Tim Platt said, on October 23, 2009 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you for your interest in my blog. I do not mind your quoting me with attribution and with a link to the blog itself showing. What do you want to quote into your blog? I am addressing a series of issues and am always interested in feedback that can help me stay focused on the topics of importance to people who read my blog.

      Please feel free to share the URL to my blog with others who you think might also find it of interest.

      Tim Platt

      Timothy Platt, Ph.D.

  2. […] with the hiring manager, mention them by name and in this I recommend that you read my posting on gatekeepers in the Guide to Effective Job Search and Career […]

  3. […] questions and draw out the hiring manager for more information. If you meet with a gatekeeper as a first interview step in a longer process, draw them out for information and insight too. In […]

  4. Sandra said, on March 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    A good part of my “day job” today is writing resumes and cover letters and advising individuals on career development strategies. I tell them they are on one side of the wall and the jobs are on the other. All the job seekers are banging away at the wall, trying to get through. The objective is actually not to get “through” the wall, but to get on the other side. How?
    ReferenceUSA is a huge business database with a lot of “insider” info — officers, # of employees, address, phone numbers, URL, competitors, business neighbors, sales, credit rating, etc. Job seekers can find companies in their geographic area they may not even have been aware of…ReferenceUSA is EXPENSIVE; however, I haven’t run into anyone whose public library card does not give them free access to the database.
    Once the job seeker has researched the companies they might be interested in, I tell them to call and ask for an “informational interview,” as much as possible with a manager in the area of the company they are interested in learning more about. They are NOT looking for a job. They want to find out more about the company than they could when they did their research.
    When they get an informational interview, they have gotten “on the other side of the wall.” They tour the company, ask questions…and decide…is this a company I really would want to work for? If not, say, “Thank you so much for your time. I learned a lot and I really appreciate your time. Who else do you know in the industry I could talk with? (They’ve got buddies.) If they decide they really want to work for the company, they say, “Thank you so much for your time. I learned a lot and I really appreciate your time. Who do I talk to about working on your team?” If the answer is, “We’re not hiring,” they move on to the next question. “Who else do you know in the industry?”
    This works because 1) companies don’t always get around to posting every new job. 2) companies may not realize how you might fit in until they meet you and might create your new job. 3) company employees typically know others in their industry. 4) the job searcher gets “face time” for a job need before it even happens.
    Some of my clients have gotten very good jobs this way…and it beats Monster…

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