Dealing Effectively With Gatekeepers

A “gatekeeper” is anyone during your career search who restricts entry to people you want to speak to or who place obstacles in front of you. Gatekeepers are found in any number of positions in a prospective employer’s organization: HR support staff, administrative assistants to hiring managers or executives, or even individuals in management roles who are tasked with “managing” the flow of applicants. Recognize that gatekeepers are expected to perform their job by restricting access to certain decision makers and following specific protocol for handling applicants.

You never know the level of influence a gatekeeper may have in the hiring process. In many organizations gatekeepers are asked about their impressions of candidates in order to get a sense of how candidates might interact with staff members. It is never a good idea to create a negative impression with anyone connected with a prospective employer!

a. Never make an enemy of a gatekeeper. Doing so will have the same outcome as if you had made an enemy of the hiring manager.

b. Always treat gatekeepers with the utmost respect and courtesy. Stand out among candidates by doing this and you will build an advocate. Remember that they are doing their job and are likely getting a degree of “attitude” from applicants they handle. When you treat them well, they take a positive interest in you.

c. Ask the gatekeeper’s opinion. Most gatekeepers are well trained to respond to requests for help, and you may be surprised how helpful they can be if you’ve treated them well.

d. Get to know others in the hiring decision chain through networking and research on social networks like LinkedIn. Reach out to those contacts and see if they can become an advocate for you.

Bottom line: Whenever you make a gatekeeper an ally, you build not only your network but your reputation. Both will pay massive dividends sooner or later.

Boyer Management Group works with universities, employers and job seekers alike to help them become more successful. For job seekers and universities, we offer the world’s first assessment to measure an individual’s knowledge and awareness of current and emerging career search best practices, along with the educational programs to support higher ed curriculum, career coaches and individual job seekers. For employers, we offer world-class talent acquisition and onboarding tools and programs. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or
call us at 215-942-0982.


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