Working With Gatekeepers and Candidates

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Oct 11, 2013
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.

Editor’s note: Monthly in The Fordyce Letter Gary Stauble addresses issues of importance to every recruiter. In this column reprinted from the March issue, Gary tackles gatekeepers and presentations.

Topic #1: Getting Past the Gatekeeper

So you’ve done the work of tracking down the name of a key individual and now you’re about to make that all important call but you’re worried about being questioned by a gatekeeper. Here are some ideas for making sure that your call gets put through:

  • 70% of what will determine your success is how you sound (your pace, your breathing, your confidence etc.) and about 30% is what you say.
  • Slow down, talk a breath, speak at a measured pace.
  • In terms of tone, it’s important to sound polite but directive. So you’re friendly, but also sound like someone with a degree of seriousness and authority.
  • Sound like an insider, not a salesperson. Avoid any jargon and phrases only used by sales people such as, “I just want to introduce myself.”
  • It’s important to script out your answers to any questions the gatekeeper might fire back at you (such as, “What is this regarding?”) so that you sound polished and confident when you answer them. After you’ve answered the question, go right back to your request. Don’t pause and wait for a response.

Here’s a cheat sheet:

  1. Sound like an insider: “Hi this is (your name) calling for Bob.”
  2. If you’re questioned: “The call is regarding a confidential matter that I need to discuss with Bob.” Or: “The call is regarding a business issue of a personal nature.”
  3. If asked what kind of company you are: “We are a consulting firm called _____, can you put me through to Bob now?”

 Topic #2: Let Your Candidates Do the Work

When you make a candidate presentation to a client via email, you most likely include an introduction and some of your notes to entice your client. These might be the same notes you use for that candidate if you’re making a MPC (most placeable candidate) marketing call. It takes time to create these notes and to be sure that they are the best of the best in terms of highlights that you should point out. So, why not let the candidate do some of that prep work for you?

There is no way that you know more about this candidate’s career accomplishments than he does. But you might be better at teasing it out of him or wordsmithing how those accomplishments are presented. There are several advantages to getting your candidates involved in coming up with their own selling point:

  1. It lets you see whether this candidate is able to clearly articulate his selling points or whether you need to do a lot of prep work with him.
  2. It helps the candidate to think through how he should present himself during the interview while there’s still time for you to help him refine his approach.
  3. It gives you the opportunity to send a cover page to your clients with the exact same format for each candidate. This makes it easy for the client to evaluate your people and shows that your firm has a professional, consistent process.
  4. Your role changes from copywriter to editor, as much of your presentation is finished for you, saving you a lot of time.

Below are sample questions you may want to include as a cover page when you present your candidates. You would send these to your candidate in advance and then editor them before sending them out:

  1. What do you think are your best personality traits that would be of interest to a future employer and why (work ethic, project completion, people skills, foresight/planning, organizational skills, ability to deal with upper management)?
  2. What have you done that has increased efficiency or saved time for your department or company?
  3. What have you done that has saved money for your department or company?
  4. What have you done that has increased revenue for your department or company?
  5. What have you done that has caused you to stand out among your peers?
  6. Describe a time when you thought there was no way out of a negative situation at work and how you overcame it.
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.
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