Getting Past the Gatekeepers

I read a post yesterday on why Recruiters are not always allowed to provide feed-back to people who are not selected. It was a very good piece and worth reading.

I don’t think there is ever enough information shared in general on this topic; therefore, I feel the need to express my own observations as someone who is in this position daily.

I am not only a connector of talent, but a rejector too. Yes, there are many reasons why CANDIDATES are not selected to move forward or to receive an offer; however, that does not mean the person behind the resume was rejected or did not bring skills, experience or value to the process.

Let’s be honest. Recruiters are gatekeepers to the magical land of OZ. We are the guy or gal with the green suit and “bless my buttons” attitude, greeting everyone who knocks (because the bell is broken), and asking them many questions before they get to proceed in to “meet the wizard,” or get turned away at the door.

For every person who is scheduled to speak with me; 10 –100+ are not going to be called and will only get a system generated email. This is NOT because I am a cold-hearted or judgmental person. Or because the human being doesn’t deserve a rewarding job in a wonderful company.

I personally feel everyone deserves a great career, who wants one, where they can perform at their best and bring passion and purpose to their life while making a sustainable living doing it. I like to think I am kind, compassionate and understanding. I freely help coach people on my spare time, to help them get into large, premium organizations, but I am unable to do this with candidates who apply to the company I work for.

That being said. Not everyone is READY for the major leagues. If you have only performed in community theatre, you may not be ready to audition for the next blockbuster, action adventure film with an already predetermined, award-winning cast. If you shoot baskets in your driveway with your child on the weekends, you may not be ready to try out for the starting line up of the 76'ers (or any other national league team). If you feel a heavy work-out, is grabbing for the remote control from your well-worn, spot on the couch, perhaps wait to sign up for a full 10K marathon.

You get my point. It’s important that you still try out (why not?), but understand if you are not quite up to the job yet and go gain some more experience, coaching or training (then come back).

My company is very open to selecting people from every background, culture, diversity, skill set, education, generation, demographic. Period. I have hired a wide range of people from a spectrum of experience, personality, nationality, age and career goals. I love my job and I feel so lucky every day to meet new people in my travels who honor and bless me with their stories and insight. I have walked in their shoes and failed interviews before (yes, even those I really thought I was going to get).

I have presented people who I felt were really, really, qualified and highly interested; but another candidate came out of the woodwork with more specific experience and got the job. Or we promoted or demoted someone. Or the job was cancelled. Or the location was changed. Or the department or job was restructured, and the skills required were no longer the same. Or… the list is infinite.

Outside of hoping to bring some light to those who sit in the dark on what happens “behind the walls” of the castle; my purpose for sharing this article, from a gatekeeper’s perspective, is to ask for your participation in the process. If you are a career seeker and wish to be considered (whatever company you select), please help your recruiter, help you get considered by starting with the basics.

There are the four key areas, regardless of your background which will help you get through the door; or not, if you don’t show up to our interview with them in hand:

Curiosity — If you are scheduled for a phone, video or in person interview, it means you have a resume which meets our basic criteria for selection. However, please do your homework in advance and come to our call prepared and excited.

Research our company and how it relates to the position you are interested in. How does it play to your life’s purpose? Look up some facts and figures. Come with good, healthy questions. Ask about metrics in growth, sales, innovation, competitors and challenges. I do take notes about people’s level of curiosity in the company, position and their own career growth opportunity. This does matter in so many ways.

Integrity — Please be truthful when describing your experience, skill level, projects completed, results, direct reports, reasons for leaving, your education, your interests, your desired salary range and your cultural expectations.

If you need four weeks of vacation a year because you go home to India every summer, please say so during our initial call. If you need X, Y, or Z to accept a position or are currently looking at A, B, or C offers or opportunity currently on the table, please share that information right away. If you can’t travel or work 3rd shift, we understand. Say something.

It is important to our company, our teams and foundational for our business to hire people with integrity and ethical character. Please speak up if something we did or did not do will have an impact on you accepting a position if it is offered. You never know when you might need that bridge you just burned or connection in the future.

Humility — I have been on MANY calls where the candidate couldn’t stop describing their magnificence long enough to take a breath. True story. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so please be mindful of this and if you have any question on whether you appear to be an “expert” instead of a “servant” leader; do yourself a favor and video record yourself (skype is great for this) describing your experience; and objectively listen to how you sound.

Ask a teenager in your life if you sound cocky or salty. They will normally be brutally honest.

Is every example “I alone did 4–5–6, etc.”

How many stories include helping others or digging into work which no one else wanted to do?

Are you a business architect with soft hands and bubble wrap protecting you; or the guy loading the dumpsters at the end of the project so the rest of the team could go home to their family?

Do you sound sincere, simple, generous and willing to do the work required to help the greater team?

Do you sound authentic or entitled?

Being empathetic, kind and team focused is not a weakness, but a strength.

Courtesy / Respect — This is the most important of all. We have somehow lost this with our “busy-aholic” culture and lifestyles; but please be professional, respectful and conscientious during the entire interview and hiring process.

If you are scheduled for an in-person (or video) interview; be on time, wear a suit, bring a hard copy or two of your resume and follow up with a thank you email, call or text. If you need to reschedule because you are sick or late, do so. It is better to be at your best when interviewing. If you accept another job, please let us know right away.

If you realize the role is not what you wanted for the money we are able to pay, please decline graciously.

Please don’t ghost us.

If you had a terrible experience with your former boss, please keep the details to yourself. Be kind, respectful and professional in what you share about your current or past company or co-workers.

Remember, there was a time when things were good and the grass was green; so if you have forgiveness, anger or resentment issues, please work on these before getting on the phone with a new potential employer.

Sour Grapes doesn’t look good on any interview notes sheet.

I promise I will do my best to bring the same list to our interaction from my side of the table. There will be times I will be running late, forget to send you some information, neglect to send you a meeting confirmation, not have time to research your current or past employer in advance or ask you something which you felt was important for me to know.

Please feel free to remind me if I missed something. I appreciate it. Also, please try to understand I am not at liberty to share with you why you didn’t get the job or why you did.

This is a company policy, so please understand it is not personal. It is about your candidacy, not your humanity and I do believe that there is opportunity out there for everyone. At times, this just comes disguised as what you need, not always what you think you want.

Happy connecting and I truly do appreciate your time and interest.

Originally published at



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Diana Glynn

Flower child, daughter of the moon, who raised two female humans in the 90s. Leaving a trail of life pebbles which spell out “I love you” and “I forgive you.”