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Job Search Tip: Become the Gatekeeper’s Friend

Job Search Tip: Become the Gatekeeper’s Friend

October 25, 2010

‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am a seasoned executive assistant. I know the economy is bad, but I’m shocked at getting ZERO responses when applying for jobs. What’s really frustrating is I can’t really call a hiring manager, since the gatekeeper to them is an executive assistant — aka, the job I want! — Amy

Dale: Here’s the reality you have to face up to: When you respond to a job posting, you’re going to be in a pile of applicants. Because of your experience, you’re likely to make the first cut. But what about the second one? What is your chief attribute as a candidate? All that experience, right? You called yourself “seasoned.” But what’s another word for “seasoned”? (You might have guessed I was going to say “old,” but no. Age discrimination exists, but to dwell on it only makes things worse.) When employers hear “seasoned,” they might think “expensive” or maybe “out-of-date.” So you have to find a way past that perception and into the “call for interview” pile.

J.T.: You’ve already found it, Amy — those gatekeepers you’ve been avoiding. Phone them and say: “I was hoping to speak to X’s executive assistant. Oh, that’s you? Great. I want to apply for the _______ position that’s been posted, and in my experience as an executive assistant, the ideal person to talk to is a current executive assistant at the company.” Then you ask for advice, including asking about the three most important traits they’re looking for, and what you could do to increase the chances of getting an interview. By befriending the gatekeeper, you have an internal advocate, and you may just find yourself at the top of that “call for interview” pile.