Gatekeepers, usually so poised under pressure, have human needs just as the rest of us do.  Generally they are the Type B enablers of Type A driven bosses.  Gatekeepers receive more than their share of annoyance from above.

When you are dealing with a gatekeeper, you would do well to remember the following.

  • When you phone a gatekeeper, always ask if this is a good time to talk.  You’ll find 50 percent of the time it isn’t because he or she is either waiting for the boss or a priority call to come in.
  • Avoid calling at high-demand times.  Monday mornings, for example, are generally poor window to reach offices dedicated to high performance.
  • Listen. A gatekeeper can be your best source of information on a manager’s decision-making habits and preferences.  The gatekeeper may also give you important scheduling and availability information on the manager just in passing conversation.  Don’t overlook it.
  • Be specific in identifying yourself and your purpose in calls and e-mails.  These beleaguered folk have tons of information swimming across their desks.  Be precise in identifying why you are calling.  If it relates to a particular document, call it up on your computer before you make the call.
  • Learn who the gatekeeper’s backup is.  Generally there is one, and this person often plays an important role in absorbing overflow work.  I can’t tell you how key this ofter overlooked tactic is.

I have much more career advice and job hunting tips in my book “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door”

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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