"Follow up" written on sticky note

Reaching the Decision Maker

Following up when you cannot get past the "Gate Keeper"

You've submitted your resume but haven't heard back. Now what? If you cannot find the hiring manager's information on the internet (LinkedIn, Google, Jigsaw, Manta, etc.), contacting the receptionist is a good a way to at least get the hiring manager's name by simply asking the right questions. The receptionist holds the key to your success in terms of actually directing you to the person you want to talk about the current job opening. First, engage the receptionist. Then, be genuine in your approach:

Applicant: "Hi, my name is John Smith. I'm hoping you can help me. I'm looking for the person in your organization who would make a decision regarding the XYZ position. That wouldn't be John Jones, would it?"

Receptionist: "Oh no, that wouldn't be John Jones, that would be Bob Smith."

At this point you hope for a transfer or at least a voicemail. You can then follow up with a direct email or written letter to the hiring manager.



  • Calling before/after Gate Keeper's shift could get you through directly. Many Decision Makers work long hours and feel less pressured before/after hours.
  • Take the time to establish rapport with each person you come in contact with, whether or not they're the actual person you were wishing to speak to.
  • Gather information with every call you make, whether or not you accomplish your primary purpose in calling. Ask appropriate questions and gather pertinent information on the Decision Maker, his or her schedule, what else is happening in the department or company at the time you are calling, etc. For instance, when is the best (and worst) time to call? How do you pronounce the Decision Maker's name?
  • Utilize multiple forms of communication to make contact. Calls alone may or may not result in success. Consider using calls, postcards, faxes, and/or emails to make contact. Ask what the best way is to communicate. Some managers prefer email, others formal letters or faxes. Once you know, play it their way.
  • The phrase "returning his/her call" upgrades your call's importance in Gate Keeper's eyes. When accurate, use it to indicate past history.
  • When leaving repeated voice mail messages, list a different benefit you provide or skill you possess during each message as a way to both qualify and distinguish yourself.


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  • Become surly, rude, or sarcastic. It's a turn-off and suggests immaturity and a lack of flexibility.
  • Become frustrated with the Decision Maker for not being there to answer you in person, or for not responding yet. To you it may seem like a simple thing to do (returning your call), yet consider the many priorities busy professionals already have on their to-do lists.
  • Call and claim you're family, or claim to be calling from the police, IRS or FBI.
By iHire | February 01, 2014
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