Did you ever stop and think that every time you pick up the phone to call a potential employer that the first person who answers the phone could possibly have a major part in all hiring decisions? First impressions are lasting impressions. Most callers view the gatekeeper as just as the receptionist and act as if they have no decision making abilities within a company. However, your assumption could potentially be incorrect.
When hunting for a job, it’s really tempting to focus on only the key decision makers. But any gatekeeper could become your best friend or worst enemy. Learn to build a relationship with the person who is answering the phone and you may learn more about an organization than you could on your own. Often times, the front desk person may have as much knowledge about a position as managers or general employees. They know where the decision maker is at all times, can provide information on all open positions, know when or how is best to approach the decision maker to drop off/email a resume, and can even tell you how many applicants have applied/interviewed for the position. They can also give you more detailed information on what it is like to work for that specific company. Gatekeepers know all the ends and outs of the hiring processes for the organization. Making them feel helpful will result in getting more information.
Always watch the way you speak to the person that holds the golden ticket. At times, we do not realize our tone of voice when we are anxious to speak to the person who makes the ultimate decisions in a company. If you are short and harsh spoken, it could potentially make the person on the other end of the line feel inadequate and feel that you are speaking to them in negative and demeaning tones. Remember to always be courteous to every person who you speak to in an organization. Keep your tones calm and upbeat. It doesn’t hurt to even try to get to know the person on the other end of the line before you are transferred to the next person. Ask them questions about how long they have been with the company, what do they like about working there most, and how would someone go about getting their foot in the door with that specific organization.
You never know when the actual decision maker will have to help step in at the front desk to play the role of backup receptionist. As an experienced recruiter myself, I play a duel role while working for Celebrity Staff. Not only do I personally assist on making hiring decisions on candidates who meet our specific requirements, but I also answer our phones on a daily basis. People call into companies while on the job search with a mission: to find the opportunity that they have been longing for. Now, think about this really hard. What if you call into a company and demand to speak to the decision maker (when unknowingly you are actually talking to them) and do not speak to the person that answered the phone with respect. Do you think that you are going to really get the job? There have been times, where I have had a caller demand to talk to a specific recruiter. When advised that they were not available, I politely ask them, “What can I help you with?” They flat out say “nothing!” Now, at that point, I went back to them and explained that I am one of the recruiters, and asked again, “What can I help you with?” The tone of their voice totally changes and they had no idea how to respond further.
Instead, in the beginning the caller should have politely asked for a specific recruiter and after being told that they were not available, asked then, who else could assist them with the position that they were interested in. The conversation would have been a lot smoother and everyone would be more comfortable. Now, I doubt that you will reach a decision maker, if you are calling into a larger organization, you never can tell who has a major influence in an organization. If it is a smaller company, normally everyone is cross-trained so that anyone can help out in the absence of a fellow co-worker. How wonderful would it be if the first time that you came into contact with the decision maker, you were professional and courteous and they were receptive of your personality and experiences?
Always make sure and speak to gatekeepers nicely, they have feelings, and often time more authority than you imagine. They deal with awkward phone calls and harassment all day long. Ask them questions about their day or even the weather. Sound sincere; it can go a long way in helping you get where you need to go. Even if a gatekeeper does not have the ultimate say so in the hiring decision, he/she could have an input. A lot of decision makers view the gatekeepers as their right hand person and value their input on what would be best for the company. If the gatekeeper holds a grudge, they could give negative feedback without realizing the positive aspects that your background and experiences might offer.
Remember, gatekeepers are not just a receptionist, they are people. So, next time you see an amazing opportunity posted, make sure and take your time when calling to inquire about the position. You never know who is on the other end! Remember the golden rule: Do onto others as you would want them to do unto you! Befriend the gatekeepers, they are truly the key to an organization.
If you are a gatekeeper and you are looking for a new opportunity, contact Celebrity Staff. Celebrity specializes in administrative, management, and legal support positions and we could help you get your foot in the door!
Megan Payne, Celebrity Staff, Staffing Assistant
Megan has been with Celebrity Staff since 2006. Currently she holds the title of staffing assistant helping to support the everyday operations of the office by interviewing, recruiting, and staffing. Megan has more than five years of staffing experience. When not at work, Megan enjoys doing outside activities with her family and dog.