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When hunting for a job, it’s really easy to woo only the key decision makers: creative directors, senior designers, managers, supervisors, and partners. Since they decide whether you get hired or not, that makes sense.

Just don’t forget the receptionists, too.

Why?

Because they’re the gatekeepers to the decision makers. More importantly, they hold a wealth of information and can answer questions like:

  • Are you hiring?
  • Who’s in charge?
  • What’s it like to work at the company?
  • When’s the best time of year to drop off my portfolio?
  • What’s the dress code? What’s should I wear to the interview?
  • Where else should I apply or send my portfolio?
  • How many other applicants are there?

How do you get them to talk to you? I take the common sense approach. Have a conversation. Be interested in their opinions. Respect their time. Build a relationship. In short, treat them like real people. Like they’re your best friend.

The same goes for office managers, secretaries, assistants, and other administrative staff.

So go ahead, pick up that phone and start practicing.

8 Comments

  • Hayden Tompkins

    gravatarMar 24, 2009
    1:17 pm

    And if you piss off a receptionist, your application can get “lost” without your being the wiser. When I was a receptionist, I routinely culled the obnoxious candidates (as well as the clearly unqualified). If someone was sweet and I could make a case for their qualifications, they would get special attention.

  • Andy

    gravatarMar 27, 2009
    12:01 am

    The last receptionist I knew (mind you this is an internationally recognized design firm) was the rude, insane b*tch I’d ever met.

    Not only was she rude because she thought she has this kind of power by being a receptionist at a big company, but if she didn’t like you, she made your life hell. Even if you didn’t know her!

    People, students and professionals alike, would call to ask simple questions about applying for jobs, portfolio drop-off, etc, and was anything but helpful no matter how nice you may have been. She would often even hang up on people, employees family members… you name it, she did it. Anyone who called from the outside and made an attempt to be nice was, in her opinion, trying to find a way into the firm, was kissing ass, and wasn’t worth her time (as if this was her decision…)

    My advice- unless your’re already getting the friendly vibe- you may try away, but don’t push your luck.

    Receptionists may just as well toss out your portfolio or resume, can also be COMPLETELY unhelpful for no good reason, or can be AMAZING and truly sweet, kind people. Cross your fingers for the latter but take note that ass kissing with the gatekeeper is not always going to work to your benefit.

  • Jon

    gravatarMar 29, 2009
    5:26 pm

    All too true! Besides, once you get a job with said company the receptionist can be an invaluable ally….especially for those little tidbits of gossip, erhm, “knowledge” that help you to know what’s coming down the pike before it happens. Receptionists, admins, and secretaries….all good allies to have.

  • Chanpory Rith

    gravatarMar 30, 2009
    9:52 am

    Andy, I totally agree with you. Just like in any group of people, there will be assholes.

    My point is that we should take the higher road and be respectful to everyone, no matter how apparently low they are on the totem pole. It really surprises how many people treat receptionists, admins, and secretaries as less than human or unimportant. It might be the reason why some of them are grouchy!

  • dmk

    gravatarApr 27, 2009
    4:07 pm

    Very useful post. Thank you. I’m off to hassle my nearest gatekeeper to check your theory out. :)

  • Lei

    gravatarMay 31, 2009
    6:33 pm

    I coundn’t agree with you more, receptionist is the on-ramp to approach highway if you are driving a veichcle on the way

  • Cindy

    gravatarJun 18, 2009
    12:34 pm

    I have had a couple employers treat me the receptionist as if I were a complete moron, one boss actually called me a “dingbat” needless to say i resigned from both positions. I feel that we deserve just as much respect as the vice president or whatever. Simply because we make less money than you does not mean abuse will be tolerated by either employers or outsiders. Some people think that taking out their frustrations out on the receptionist is the way to get what they want, I am afraid they are sadly mistaken, if anything it will have the opposite effect. I believe the smallest of the small should be treated with respect no matter what title is held. I can feel a person’s attitude through their voice, being nice will always get you further.

  • Niluka Weerasinghe

    gravatarJun 18, 2010
    11:01 am

    good said, They give a helpful service to customers. they are quick pass messengers, so friends & receptionist both are same,

    Niluka