Get Past the Gatekeeper

It is fairly common for job seekers to find their perfect job online.  After carefully completing the application online and attaching their resume, they hit send and the waiting begins.  Calling the company to find the right person to talk to is often challenging.  At best they encounter the dreaded gatekeeper who blocks their attempts to reach the hiring manager.  Worse still, the gatekeeper may even be a computer which has already prevented their resume from reaching the hiring manager.  What is a frustrated job seeker to do?

Try a Different Gate

For job seekers who apply online only, whether through the company website or a job board, they quickly learn that this is rarely a high probability activity.  The single most effective way to land a job is through networking.  Talking to people in companies and positions of interest to learn more about the types of opportunities that interest you, to get insight into their organization and to understand its hiring processes and requirements can make a significant difference.   When applying for a job online, job seekers should always contact their networking connection at that company.  Let them know which job you applied for, and ask them to share your resume with the hiring manager.

Now instead of being a needle in the haystack of online applications, a colleague has put your resume on the desk of the hiring manager.  This resume is much more likely to be reviewed and a recommendation from the internal colleague increases the probability even more.  To be someone hiring managers will notice, job seekers need to build and leverage an effective network.

The Human Gatekeeper

If you are lucky enough to have the contact information for the hiring manager or even the recruiter assigned to the position, you have an opportunity to follow up by telephone to express your interest and to inquire about next steps.  Unfortunately your efforts are often blocked by an effective gatekeeper.    Be polite and professional.  Engage the gatekeeper in conversation.  Try to build rapport with the gatekeeper.  Often they will soften a bit and will at least pass your resume on with a note.  The hiring manager sees that you have made the extra effort to differentiate yourself in the process.  Gatekeepers often have input in the decision and can quickly eliminate those who are rude or disrespectful during the process.

The Computer Gatekeeper

There is no option to build a relationship with the computer gatekeeper so the job seeker has to focus on how the computer will evaluate their resume.  Key words are the most important consideration in a computer screening.  The applicant should carefully review the job description and include in their resume as many key words from the job description as possible.  Industry or professional key words are also important.  The job seeker has to give the computer as many reasons as possible to select their resume.

As job seekers try to get beyond the gatekeepers, it is important to keep all interaction with the hiring company as professional and courteous as possible.  Do not follow-up more than twice or the individual is likely to feel annoyed and will not want to help you in the process.  Ultimately people hire people they would like to work with going forward.

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