Monday, April 29, 2013

Taking the Initiative, (Pt II)


Do your prep and research before you place your call but, I caution people, don’t think too much, don’t over examine or over analyze what you will be doing on your own behalf. Some people will fret and think a subject to death and, as a result, sit on their hands and do nothing. Any time you try something new, it is always a  bit uncomfortable. Remember, the worst thing that can happen is being told “no”, over the telephone, by someone you don’t know. Gee, that’s scary – not! So, with the contact name of a potential hiring manager, and possessing a relatively refined and practiced presentation (to the extent you are comfortable), make the calls, introduce yourself and state your intention with reasons as to why considering you for employment might be constructive.  

When you have the opportunity to speak with a hiring manager, go with the flow of the conversation. Present yourself but be able to adapt it slightly, if necessary, to somewhat reflect the tone and situation. After greeting them and stating your name, always start by asking if they have a moment to speak. If they say they are busy, ask them when it is a better time to speak and then follow up. However, don’t leave a lengthy pause awaiting their reply and unless they object right away, begin your presentation – after all, it is  going to require less than a minute of their time. When you are finished, you will add one last comment and question, “Are you the right person to whom to speak about this?” (I’ve written it to be grammatically correct, but say it however you feel comfortable) and then stop talking, really, say nothing more and await their reply. Now, listen to what they have to say and, not only what they say, but how they reply. What you are listening for, if not a clear black and white reply one way or the other, are buying signs.

You also must recognize, as any sales person knows, there is rarely a one call close/sale. In other words, few people reach the decision maker, make their presentation, and win the pot-o-gold on a first attempt. Yes, it can happen on occasion, although success is often incremental, and getting your foot in the door more often occurs on the third or fourth attempt. So if the door does not swing open and the CEO is not there to greet you, it does not mean failure. A lot, however, depends on the depth of your efforts. If, for example, 20 placed calls to an assortment of companies gets you a positive result, it’s up to you whether you take a few days, or a week – or more, to conduct and reach that level of effort. I doubt most people who want to work, think that searching for a job is a hobby or a pastime to which they get around once in a while. If you’re only looking for a job whenever the feeling hits you, you ain’t serious. Nothing wrong with that and I’m not necessarily criticizing, everyone has their own priorities, but we should be honest with ourselves, as well as to those who may depend on us. 

We’ve spoken a lot about developing your own personal presentation, with good reason. It is central to your efforts and, for the rest of your working life, it should be as integral a part of any job search efforts, as is your resume – they go hand-in-hand, they are inseparable. Additionally, your F.A.B. personal presentation can be utilized in any number of ways; in addition to occasional spontaneous usage in your daily life, you have three methods available to you for delivery of your presentation. Although you may slightly adapt or adjust a word here and there in your opening and closing sentence, here are three alternatives for you, in order of preference: 

  • Directly communicated – whether it is delivered face-to-face or speaking one-on-one over the telephone, this is your first and best option. Always seek to communicate your presentation directly to the person whom you want to contact.
  • Voice mail – If you make several attempts to speak directly but are unable, your second choice is to leave a voice mail. If you have a good presentation, the formulae of Feature / Accomplishment (Achievement) / Benefit, are attention grabbers. Simply leave an introduction and your presentation as the voice mail (don’t forget to leave your name at both the beginning and end of your voice mail together with your telephone number). 
  • Email – It’s not as good as if you can speak with a hiring manager directly, but as a third choice it’s still an effective alternative. 
So now, think about it, you have the normal everyday online efforts that you usually conduct and will continue doing so; plus, now you have a well-prepared personal presentation and you are always ready. You now have not only one, but up to four alternatives for getting your message out there. You have just multiplied your potential for finding a job and, likewise, streamlined your efforts as a result – but wait, there’s more!  

Next time we’ll talk  about identifying buying signs, how to react and capitalize on them. 

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taking the Initiative, (Pt I)

You should have, or are developing, your own personal presentation so that anytime you might have the occasion, by chance or through intention to speak to a hiring manager, you can speak with purpose and confidence. The result we’ve sought is so that you’ll be more impactful and, as an applicant, more formidable than your contemporaries, who are also trying to get noticed but who only bother to limit their focus to online resume submissions and solicitations. Can you begin to recognize how you are already starting to separate yourself from most others in both mindset and action? Now, let’s go back to what we were discussing a couple weeks ago, when we were talking about gate keepers and getting the name of a hiring manager.  

By the way, I’ve been utilizing this same methodology for more than 20 years. If you are wondering how a hiring manager whom you are able to contact might react to your unsolicited call, I can tell you according to my own experience, it primarily depends on what you have to say that will reap their interest, anger or indifference. Regarding any negative vibes you may encounter, there are basically only two; one being you’ve caught them at a bad time (is there ever a good time?), or they act bothered and you are an intrusion. Second, recognize there are some people out there who are just plain tone deaf and reactionary to anything that doesn’t fit into their little box of daily routine and expectations but, fortunately, these people are few. In such cases you can sour grape it and tell yourself that they would likely be a jerk to work with. This assumption is correct a majority of the time and, as such, let them keep their bad mojo, don’t you shoulder it; just say thank you, smile and move on. 

Generally speaking, if you have a decent presentation and demeanor, most people are generally accepting and will let you say what you called to say. Often they recognize that it takes a little gumption to make the effort you’ve made in reaching them. I have also found that, ironically, the more senior the individual the easier they are to talk to – again, if you have something worthwhile to tell them, once again, it comes down to the importance of the personal presentation. If I must try to single out those who tend to be more negative than others, it would be lower and middle managers. There could be a few reasons for this, but I personally think the more senior and, as a result more mature, managers can appreciate the effort made to reach them, recognizing most people can’t or won’t take such initiative. Likewise, it exemplifies traits companies often like to see. Lower and middle managers might not get it and, moreover, if there is indication the caller is cleverer than the hiring manager with whom they are speaking, those traits might not be as appreciated. Let’s face it, some people are more concerned with protecting their turf than what may be best for their company and you might be viewed as a threat; these things happen. Never mind, these negative reactions are not as common as you may fear; these are worse-case scenarios and no one is coming after you for making a call. In fact, I suggest you should consider that, when you call into a company, it is not a distraction or a bother and, instead, you’re calling with good news; you’re contacting an organization to explain to them how you can benefit their organization. Meanwhile, everyone else is sending their resumes down a black hole to await the blessing of recognition and a call. So, if you have confidence in what you have to offer, reject any feelings that you are imposing on, or bothering someone. Don’t wear the albatross of self doubt around your neck before you’ve even spoken with anyone. To a good listener, self doubt and a lack of belief in the product you represent (that product being you) is palpable and can be sensed; as I often say, perception is reality in such endeavors.  

Next time, a few more comments, and then you’re going to pick up the phone and start talking to people. 

(Part II will be posted on Monday)

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Monday, April 22, 2013

What Do You Have To Offer? Pt III


As I would expect, some people might be cynical about how to apply the F.A.B. presentation to their own particular situation; especially concerning accomplishments. Some individuals worry they don’t have any and think this kind of presentation won’t work for them. Perhaps. Accomplishments don’t always need to be grandiose but they do need to be real. There might be some that you are overlooking so let’s talk about some examples:

Recent College Grads – If you worked prior to or while engaging in your studies, this is helpful. Especially now, when many are financing their degrees, if you were balancing work and studies, and maintained decent grades, that is an accomplishment. If you participated in any extra-curricular activities, i.e., sports, teaching assistant, etc. and again balanced those activities with your studies and also kept up your grades, this is an accomplishment. The same goes for any leadership responsibilities. As an example, I know that some companies require certain level GPAs and will allow a slightly lower GPA for those who were involved in other activities, such as those listed above. If you did none of these things and focused on your studies exclusively and you have high scores, your studies were your job, of sorts. BTW, in this scenario your professors, coaches, etc. can be references. I’m not going to lie to you, these are not the most powerful tools available but, if you’re young, you’re not expected to have a long list of accomplishments or accolades. Your presentation will be shorter, no doubt, but if your goal is to try to separate yourself from crowds of others, this is one way by which to do it. Awards are also accomplishments. As for the benefits, anything that shows leadership and responsibility can be a suitable benefit communicated in your presentation.

Military Veterans – I have a special appreciation and respect for Vets. With virtually no support or help after they finish their enlistments, they have it tougher than any other demographic group out there. I know and remember well what it was like after I left active duty in 1986, especially combat arms-related folks have a tough transition. And for anyone who dismissively says, “Too bad, they enlisted” my reply is yes, they did, and as a result they deserve a fair shot and more, for their service. If you were in an MOS with transferable skills, then you have something upon which to build. If you were combat arms related I would focus on leadership, maturity and responsibility traits, which are always desirable. In the current era many Vets can point to overseas deployments and their responsibilities, especially people-related responsibilities, and best if you are able to translate into relative dollar amounts that which was under your supervision and care. For example: when I left the military and did the duffle bag drag back home, I focused on the enhanced security aspect of my previous work and my first real job after the military was sales of security and alarm systems. No it was not a career job for me, but it got me headed in the direction wherein I find myself today. I am not trying to over simplify things, your task in the current employment market is not easy, but good things are never easily obtained. Most Vets have dealt with some challenges; this is just a different kind of adversity.

Starting over at 50 – I can’t say definitively, but I suspect companies are using actuary tables to decide upon whom to downsize, because it’s too ironic that so many people, a little before or after they turn 50, lose their jobs with companies to which they were so loyal. The time when companies valued their employees seems a faded memory. Nonetheless, you must move ahead. Indeed, some job and entire industries are going away. Whether you choose to or have to change market focus, however possible, concentrate on your transferable skills, anything that can be applied to another market sector or industry. This is your best option, and before any interview do some research as best you can, so when asked, you can articulate how your skills are transferable.
Highly Technical Professionals – This is the one sector that is predominantly reliant upon resumes with lengthy details. Some would argue there is less interaction among these skilled professionals with most hiring resume based. Yes, it is but that does not mean a person cannot benefit or enhance their odds during a process by injecting increased interpersonal repartee. Technically-skilled market sectors are also increasingly competitive. 

Next time, we’ll talk about what you can do with the information you’ve assembled. 

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

What do You Have to Offer? (Pt II)


More about presenting yourself… 

Occasionally people confuse an accomplishment with a benefit. Although they may seem similar they are not the same. The achievement is more personal and the benefit is related  to how your positive performance affected the company in a productive manner, with beneficial results for your employer.  

Having developed an introductory presentation, you will go onward; always able to present yourself at a moment's notice and, further, be better prepared to interview. For example: when you participate in a first-round interview, a predictable question is, “…tell me about yourself.” You could ideally use a F.A.B. presentation format to describe your work history, expanding on what is summarized on your resume, or do like most other people and recite your resume and tell them (yawn) what they already know. Do you recognize the power of a F.A.B. presentation? Similarly, if you have a spontaneous opportunity to meet someone, at a trade show, a job fair or wherever; if you have a technical background, for example, and by chance met Bill Gates or anyone else influential in a business sector and they said hello; what would you say, what could you say? Would you stumble for words, only to kick yourself in hindsight about what you wish you could have said? Learning this kind of presentation is something into which you’ll invest the time once, and then you are never at a loss when an opportunity presents itself. 

But in order for any of this to be effective, it requires practice. When you write it, do so in the same manner in which you speak, so when you memorize it sounds natural and doesn’t sound scripted or robotic. It should be in a conversational tone. You’ll need to practice and rehearse it, sharpen and reduce it  to the point at which you can do it calmly and confidently, within 20 – 30 seconds if necessary, without sounding rushed. Remember, you are not reciting your career history, simply an introductory presentation with your best career and ability highlights. You want to present enough to generate interest; you can provide details at any resulting meeting. And don’t just read it, learn it and recite it out loud. I recommend the best way to do this is to stand in front of a mirror or role play with someone willing to help you. This method also prevents you from stumbling and tripping over words that come out faster than you can formulate them, and yet, you’ll be ready on the spot, shifting gears without much stress. Trust me, to do this effectively is often more time consuming and difficult than writing a resume, but it is worth it. A decent resume is important, but the impression you leave in person trumps the scant moments someone glances at a piece of paper.  

Yet another good tip for improving your presentation skills is to voice record yourself and play it back. Most people are surprised as to how they sound when recorded. This may seem like a lot of effort, and it is, but being able to accomplish and master it will notably set you apart from others. Don’t be caught off guard with not much more to say than, “…um, uh it’s nice to meet you.”  

So now, when you have your moment to speak to a hiring manager, you’ll have something to say. Next time let’s talk about making it happen. Meantime, get going and assemble your F.A.B., then invest some time – practice. Next time we’ll finish this topic with a few additional considerations and, with something to say, we’ll get back to making contact with a hiring manager. 

(Part III will be posted on Monday) 

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Monday, April 15, 2013

What do You Have to Offer? Pt I

That was a rhetorical question; everyone has something to offer. Anyone who wants to work and contribute their abilities is employable and has value and worth. I contend there are no expendable people. What can you contribute, where and how can you apply your skills toward a suitable job, becomes the question. Determining for what you are qualified and capable of doing, together with a knowledge of what it is you want to do, is a personal decision only you can answer. It is surprising how many people, when asked, don’t know what they want to do now or in the future. They seem to be hoping someone else will tell them what’s best. I have met many people at different professional levels who call me for assistance and when I ask the simple opening question, “so, what do you want to do?”, they don’t know. The conversation ends there because until they do know, I can’t help them and they are wasting the time of anyone with whom they speak. Before you call into any company you must be able to answer this question.  

However, let’s assume you’ve thought things through and you do know what you want to do, when the opportunity presents itself, but what will you say? You might now have a name of a hiring official and you may succeed in connecting with them, but when you have your moment, will you capitalize on it and make the most of it, or will you choke? I know of very few people who have the ability to simply wing it and succeed doing things without forethought, by the seat of their pants. Consider that people spend a lot of time on their resume, an item at which someone will briefly glance, but they invest almost nothing in their own abilities. During the interview, your resume doesn’t speak, you do. So, what are you gonna say?

In all my experience the best tried and true, effective presentation template is a F.A.B. presentation. It stands for Feature – Accomplishment (or Achievement) – Benefit presentation. It dates back to the 1960s and is nothing new although most people aren’t aware of it – which translates into an advantage for you. Mix the order up to any way you want, but this is the basis for a good way to introduce yourself in a manner that is short and effectively gets to the point. Meanwhile, other people will ramble on and perhaps say a lot, but communicate little. Hey, I love using the Internet and new technologies, so I don’t think I’m a grumpy old guy when I suggest that technology has made us all lazy, or lazier and, as a result, most people have lost these skills. Make an effort to learn (or re-learn) what were once basic methods of effective interpersonal communication. 

Get a piece of paper and pen and in the left column list the three topics. Then beside each, write short statements that apply to each and list as many as you can. Then, reduce and refine the list. Here is a generic example: 

FEATURE – I am/was the quality control manager for new product component manufacturing

ACHIEVEMENT – I helped the production team reduce waste and increase quality  

BENEFIT – As a result, the company increased quality and reduced waste by 26% in the last 12 months 

Now tie it all together combined with a short introduction, your F.A.B. information and what you seek to accomplish, i.e., meeting, interview, etc. This is your basic personal presentation that you can adapt as you see fit and, depending on the occasion, it will evolve as you progress in your career.  

Don’t short change yourself, this is not something you can complete in 5 minutes or even an hour; it takes time and effort writing a first draft, a second and so forth. Do this until you have refined it to the point of feeling confident about what you have to say and what it is you are offering to a potential employer.  

(Part II will be posted on Thursday)
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Get the Name, (Pt II)


The reason for so much emphasis on getting the name is – to make any progress we must get our foot in the door, and having a name helps to accomplish this. Gate keepers are trained to reject any unsolicited inquiries, so if you have no name you’ll get turned away or referred to HR, which isn’t our objective – at the moment.

Put the perception that you don’t belong and that you are doing something against someone's make-believe rules, out of your mind. Think about it, put yourself in the shoes of someone who is familiar with their system and organization – a vendor or supplier, for example. When they call they simply ask their question, get the info and move on. If you’re nervous it is primarily because you are aware of what you’re up to, and you’ve been conditioned to think it’s forbidden and off limits for you to act in your own self-interest, so rid yourself of this conditioning. Besides, all you’re doing is asking for a name.

So, what if:

  • They start to ask questions you can’t answer or you get overly nervous? As I stated earlier, in mid-sentence hang up; calls get dropped all the time. You can always call back when you are ready to continue and go at it again.
  • They give you the wrong name? So what, you have a name and call back and suggest you were mis-directed; even with this you are no longer a total outsider. Once you get used to doing this it gets easier when you will call any organization and ask for the info you need.
  • They might remember your name? Again, so what? It does not matter unless you offend someone and, frankly, if your name becomes familiar they may more easily put you through in the future – remember, perception is reality. If you are able to build any kind of friendly rapport with a gate keeper you’ll find if you can remove suspicion, most will be more than happy to feel as if they are helping you. 

If or when you receive the name, exploit the opportunity and try for additional info such as official title, their email, and you can also ask for the name of their admin assistant (this might come in handy later). 

If you don’t succeed or are having difficulty, never, ever get nasty because they are just doing their job; you’re the outsider and although I am suggesting you keep it short, direct and professional, don’t sugar coat things too much. Though, to quote another old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” If you don’t get through the first time, wait a day or perhaps two, then try again. Will this strategy get you in every time? No, of course not; however, it does work and the more you do this the better your abilities will become, and so also will be your results. Sport teams have playbooks; do those plays work, yes. Do those plays work every time they are tried, no. Incidentally, to what I’ve been referring is the basic skill commonly referred to as cold calling and it’s what every successful sales person, marketer and recruiter does every day. You’d be well served to adopt and apply these techniques. 

Once you have a name, what then? When you will have your moment and have the chance to speak with a hiring manager, do you know what you’ll say? So here’s a direct question. Can you, within 30 to 40 seconds, clearly and with confidence introduce yourself, state the reason for your call, synopsize and present reasons why you are worthy of their time and consideration? Not surprisingly, most people cannot, but that’s okay. I’ll teach you how. So while others might put their foot in their mouth, you’ll be putting your best foot forward.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Get the Name (Pt 1)

If you’re reading my previous entries, you know our goal is to get the name of a hiring official you will try to make contact with in order to present yourself and your resume, directly. Because without a name your only options is to send your resume into a deep dark rabbit hole to be filed until or if someone takes the time to review yours, along with sometime hundreds of others. I am suggesting another way. 

Before you make the call (see previous blog entry), run through what you will say in your mind a couple of times. This is so you sound more natural and your dialogue isn’t clouded with non-word clutter like, “um, uh, and like, you know…yeah…”, remember you want to sound confident, as if you belong; that it’s a routine call, as though you are calling from another office of the same company, or as a current customer or vendor, because if you sound like an outsider, the barriers will go up and you’ll be treated like one. 

Be innovative, but there is no need to BS or create an elaborate ruse; you’re not George Costanza, you don’t need to create an Art Vandelay alter ego; it’s not necessary and the more fiction you create, the more friction you may encounter later. If you’ve never done this before don’t sweat it, you’re just a generic voice on the other end of the phone, so unless you say something really silly, the Gate Keeper will forget you five minutes after your call. If you get tripped up or at a loss for words, so what; you can always hang up mid-sentence; calls get dropped all the time, call back when you are ready, having regained your composure. Be polite but don’t overdo it or it will signal to the gate keeper that you don’t belong. I also suggest against using too many wimp words. What do I mean by wimp words – how does this sound to you? “I’d like to ask if you could please, maybe, perhaps, possibly, connect me to the Director of…” Instead, keep it short, direct and professional; very often, perception is reality and you want to sound as if you belong. Be a chameleon, you don’t have to change who you are, just adapt to suit the environment to get in the door.

So let’s role play:

Receptionist: “Good morning, XYZ Corporation, how may I help you?”

You: “Yes, good morning. I need to contact your South East Regional Marketing Manager. Who do I contact?”

Now, there are a variety of questions you might be asked and among them will be your name, no worries, give it. 

You: “My name is,  first & last name (no titles).”

Receptionist: “And you’re from what company?

Name a company if you want to, but keep it simple and come up with something like two or three letters and, why not, when someone says TRW, IBM, HP, etc. nobody says, “What’s that stand for?”

You: “CGT” (or whatever)

Receptionist: “And what is this concerning.”

You: “It’s a business matter.” (It’s a true statement; potential employment with them is a biz issue)

If you are asked for additional information, beyond this point you’ll have to innovate a  bit. In the past, I have insinuated during the exchange that I am pressed for time. I might say I am between meetings (again, a true statement) and I need the info and ask if she can help me and will call him back later. Or, I might speak away from the phone as though I am being called back into a meeting and am hurried. Sometimes this will reduce or stop the inquisition. 

Next time, we’ll finish this discussion and address some of the obstacles and hurdles you may encounter.

 (Part II will be posted on Thursday)

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gate Keepers Pt II


Chasing a name…

Let’s say, for example, you have a list of companies wherein you’d like to investigate opportunities or appeal directly to a hiring manager. Some may ask, “Why should I waste my time if I don’t know if they even need anybody; they have no jobs listed on their website, it just seems like a big waste of time.” True, most people are not willing to make an effort without some form of instant gratification or indication of success before they’ll make any effort. I would respond to those folks by asking, “Okay, and how’s that strategy been workin’ for you; getting plenty of interviews? (insert sarcasm) You’re not - gee, what a surprise.” As I often point out, I am appealing to those who don’t want to be, to one degree or another, like everyone else. I don’t know from where it derives, but as an old proverb states, you cannot awaken those who pretend to be asleep. Indeed, human nature is such that many people would rather stay asleep or opt to sit around collecting dust, making excuses and staring at the phone waiting in anticipation for it to ring; you know, like someone who’s been stood up on date night. 

So if you have your online efforts covered and accounted for, let’s now take things up a notch to increase your odds for success. BTW, if you’re still skeptical, are you aware that many open jobs are not listed online and, in fact, there are open jobs that human resources is not even aware of. Because, you see, I don’t care how big and efficient a company looks to the outside world, management and HR don’t always communicate as a well-oiled machine, for whatever reason. In almost every company of any size, there are jobs that management would like to fill but, at the moment, they may not be on the priority list even if they are critical. Or it could be only a wish list in the head of a company manager who can react if the right person comes through the door. No matter the reasons, we’re going to capitalize on this weakness within companies, as well as the inaction of other unwilling/unwitting applicants. As any proactive headhunter will also agree, many of my placements of the last 20 years have been situations in which companies have needs but they haven’t done anything, or the process has fallen off the radar, or they’ve been looking, but the online methods haven’t resulted in suitable candidates. The possibilities for why it hasn’t or isn’t happening are endless; but if the right person comes through the door, a stagnant process can roar back to life. However it happens, perhaps you can be that person. Anyway, back to the subject – getting the name.

Ideally, you’ll want to seek out the person to whom you would report if you worked there, generally speaking, or the next higher level. BTW, just to be clear I am not talking about human resources, they are a critically important part of the hiring process but, alas, they are not hiring managers. HR facilitates on behalf of the hiring managers but do not make the decision to hire outside their own department. If you are a sales person, you would try to identify the region sales manager or, in a smaller company, the VP of Sales; keep in mind that specific titles vary from company to company. Just seek out the middle or senior manager in the area or department of the company where you would work. If you are in marketing seek out the marketing director, etc. Prepare ahead of time, do your homework; know what information you seek to obtain and what level of person and a relative understanding of the position of the person. But after you’ve done some prepping it’s time to pick up the phone and get directly into the game.

Next time we’ll role play to demonstrate an example of your inquiry and the conversation you’ll have with the Gate Keeper as you become more proactive in your job search efforts.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

The Gatekeepers, Part I

The gatekeepers to whom I am referring, who perform the administrative support and human resource functions, have an important role. From your perspective as an applicant, they are an unavoidable part of the process, the first couple of levels through which most must navigate. They regulate, confirm or deny access, which is why they are called gatekeepers. Applying simple black and white logic, they are an obstacle between you and your goal of making contact with any hiring manager and decision maker. Who knows -- a gate keeper might just surprise you and be very helpful -- or stop you dead in your tracks. I will be explaining how to avoid the latter. I’ve no ax to grind with the gatekeepers but my stated goal is to help you, the job seeker, period. 

More about Gatekeepers
First-line gatekeepers are most commonly those with whom you’d have initial contact when you call or visit a company; they include receptionists and personal admin support staff. In the case of receptionists and personal administrators/assistants, one of their functions is to protect the people they support, deflecting and preventing unwanted, unsolicited and unscheduled distractions, such as marketers, sales persons and people like you. It does not make them your enemy and, frankly, on occasion they might actually help you, depending on your demeanor and your approach, but more about that later. 

You know, many people dismiss or disregard admin staff, but taking these people for granted is a mistake and shortsighted. Often administrators work harder than many others in a company and many managers would absolutely fall on their faces if they didn’t have someone organizing and coordinating their day, and any accomplished manager will tell you good administrative help is hard to find. Reasonable managers recognize their value and will guard and protect their administrative help jealously. Often, when a director level or higher manager accepts a new job at a new company, they often take their personal assistant or what used to be called a secretary (now a politically incorrect term) with them. So as this demonstrates, admin staff treated with dignity will be very loyal to their employer and they’re not going to simply let you walk in and bother their boss.  

Human Resources
Although they are not the very first people with whom you speak, HR is the next level or layer of defenses arrayed against outsiders. Human resources is where admin staff will direct people inquiring about a job. Even if you’re able to identify and contact a hiring manager’s office they’ll most likely refer you to HR. Regardless of whether they are nice and helpful people or dry and humorless bureaucrats, they perform an important function and it’s best to avoid alienating them. At the same time, I don’t care how nice they seem, they are not your friend. When you consider the sheer numbers of applicants they deal with on a daily and weekly basis, don’t take it personally if they seem a little dry. They are not the customer care or CRM department, they are human resources, human capital or whatever trendy department title they may use, and they’re more likely to look for reasons to rule you out rather than to rule you in, or add your resume to the file of many, many other resumes.

Now for your task
Next, we’re going to talk about ways you can effectively apply directly with a company, first by phone and then, we’ll see. This blog will not self-destruct, but your mission, should you choose to accept it, is really quite simple; I want you to get a name. It’s not as easy as it sounds but it is neither as tough as some may think. Remember, I said we’re going to start small, step by step. A name is the key, because with a name you can get additional information and enhance your chances of gaining access. 

(Part II will be posted on Thursday) 

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