Whether you are trying to reach out to a potential mentor, or if you are hoping to get a few minutes with a hiring manager in a job search, getting past the gatekeeper will be an important process.
Several years ago I applied for a position at a small college. Since the hiring manager was the Principal of the college she was a complete unknown to me, and I her. She did not attend any of the conferences I did, or know any of the people in my network.
Finding the Principal in the phone directory was easy. However, I noticed the phone number was the same number as the Principal’s assistant. I waited till after 5pm and called the number – the Principal picked-up! Goal! We had an excellent chat about the position at the college and I provided a little background about myself.
Ultimately I didn’t get the job. But I did get past the gatekeeper! It is the job of administrative assistants to keep eager job seekers, networkers and vendors from interrupting an executive’s work day.
Tips for getting past the gatekeeper:
1) Pick-up the phone and call. You may feel more comfortable with e-mail – but you need to call.
2) Try early morning or early evening, outside the time in which assistants typically work.
3) Do your research. If the gatekeeper of the person you are trying to reach picks-up – you better know his or her name.
4) If you do get the administrative assistant on the phone be super nice, sincere, friendly and courteous. If you want to be really bold you may try “Is Chad in?” inferring that you are on a first name basis with your target.
5) Ask the administrative assistant for the best time to reach the administrator.
6) If the gatekeeper is nice and even a little bit helpful send a very short thank you e-mail.
7) If you apply for a position through on an online system then ask if it would be ok to send in your resume via e-mail. This is very helpful in case human resources does any screening.
Best of luck getting in touch!