10 Tips on Getting a Contract with an HR Gatekeeper

1. Cold Calls. If you are cold calling me from any company that rhymes with Blobert Blaf or similar companies, call me from your mobile because I can see your company on my caller ID.  Expect me to still blow you off, but call me in 6 months to show me you made it. We may talk then.

2. Warm Intros. Get a warm introduction.  It can be from my neighbor, book club pal, former coworker, or my dry cleaner. I'll be nicer because I want to keep my friends happy.

3. Link. No mattter what, ask to connect with me on LinkedIn. Send me the invitation while we are talking on the telephone. It is easy for me to say yes and get rid of you, but I'll see your updates and remember you. 90% of you don't do this.

4. Timing for Calls. No time is a good time, but there are definitely bad times. Call anytime but during payroll cycles, open insurance enrollment, and merit raise cycles.

5. Solve My Problems. Research my company, show interested in my business, and then ask me about my business. Get me to complain about how I can't find a SQL Developer (because I don't know it is different from a SQL DBA), and offer solutions.

6. Payrolling. Offer to payroll the people I find at 30% or if you really want my attention, 25%(ouch) .  Refresh the offer by email every 60 days.  I'll call you the next time my CEO/CFO/CIO is breathing down my neck to get the person in today. This is your foot in the door.

7. Lunch. Find me on Yelp.com to see where I really want to eat.  I could eat steak and lobster everyday for lunch if I took all of your invitations. 

8. Outings. If my boss finds out I was golfing with you during the day, I'm dead so invite me to a seminar you are sponsoring on social networking or SharePoint. Schedule it to end at 4:00PM so I can't go back to the office (darn!) and we can have some time to talk. 

9. My Ego.  Emphasize how you know I'm too busy to recruit.  By bringing you in, I'm admitting I can't do my job.

10. Small Gifts. Give me a ceramic coffee mug. A mug? Why? I'll throw away portfolios, candy, business card holders, and pens with your logo. I won't throw away a heavy mug.  It just doesn't feel right. It can still be a pen holder or displayed on my shelf.

Views: 1690

Comment by Ari Waller on May 23, 2011 at 8:39am
I agree Ben.  #9 is critical.   Interestingly enough, most of the HR contacts we work with are very strong technical recruiters.  The challenge for me is to appropriately convey that we are looking to add the appropriate recruiting bandwidth on the more difficult to fill requirements, without implying its because we dont think she/he is unable to fill it.    The volume demands on the corporate recruiters we interact with are ever increasing.  Whether you are an agency recruiter (like me) or a corporate recruiter, ego is important.  How we communicate will determine whether we will make even 1 placement, or 10+ placements with a client.  Great stuff! I will be sharing your notes with my team.
Comment by Steven J Sergi on May 25, 2011 at 2:15pm
Just getting around to this one - great post! Glad to see HR Gatekeepers can laugh at the game..
Comment by sridhar B on May 26, 2011 at 6:47am
Thanks for sharing the Notes
Comment by Beth on May 26, 2011 at 12:16pm
The first one had me falling off my chair.  Some innocent bystanders have been victim of my "screening" because their phone numbers are just too darn close to those "frequent flyer" callers from agencies!!!  And as you said, my first response, just to have fun, is "Oh, you must have replaced so-and-so.  How long have you been with the firm?"  LMAO!!!  Good one, Bert. 
Comment by Mike Ososki on May 26, 2011 at 4:57pm
Wry and dry - and likely mostly true. HR is often the blackest hole. Thanks for sharing, Bert :)
Comment by Gabriel Bachove on August 13, 2012 at 3:31pm

Appreciate the tips.  My company is a bit newer and at times I do have some problems getting past the gatekeeper, but I am VERY Persistent, which has grown my job board to over 80 jobs in 7 months.  Now I just have to find the candidates, lol.  Thank you everyone for the tips and responses, it helps newbees like me succeed.

Do you really think calling on my cell phone is the right "moral" way to get in touch with the gatekeeper?  I have never tried that!

Comment by Elise Reynolds on September 7, 2012 at 11:58am

Some good points Bert,


I want to focus on #5.  I like the idea of trying to get my HR person to complain and whine.  When you are just meeting someone how do you best segway a conversation to that?


Also #10 - little vendor or would be-vendor gifts.  I am an independant recruiter, not part of a larger firm.  My method has been to give some kind of pastries, like cupcakes from a cute boutique or cake pops.  My thinking is even a mug is a pain rolling around in someone's office.  pens are nice becase we all use pens.  Anyone have any additional comments on the little gifts?

Comment by Bert Shimabukuro on September 9, 2012 at 6:43pm

@Gabriel,  It is up to me to decide it I pick up the phone or not.  There are certain firms will not talk to because of experience.  If you want to even have a chance, you have to find a way to talk to me.

Comment by Bert Shimabukuro on September 9, 2012 at 7:02pm

@Elise,  I would recommend looking at the hard positions they have open that are similar to ones you have filled lately. I'd be specific.  "I just placed an SAP FI Implementation Manager.  It looks like you have been looking for one too.  How is the search going?"

The pastries usually just go into the break room.  I think you are on the right track with pens.  You can buy custom printed pens really cheap.  It has to be something with your name and contact info that I won't throw away.  It might just be me, but I still have never thrown away a mug and I have even re-gifted them to new employees looking for a coffee mug because they hadn't brought one in yet.  Good free advertising.

A few months ago I received a big bag will all kinds of marketing material, took out the pens and mug and handed the rest back to the Account Manager.  I told him I'd just throw the other stuff away.

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on September 26, 2017 at 7:26pm

Hello! Anybody still here?


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