Getting past the gatekeepers

We give the gatekeepers of job adverts entirely too much credit. Those people who sit looking through CVs, ruthlessly saying yes or no, depending on the job ad they’ve written and what they think that job needs. They’re the judge, jury and executioner without any second opinion or intervention and that would never work in a court of law. And the really terrible truth is, they don’t know as much as we think they know and when we put that much power in their hands, we do ourselves a huge disservice.

I find myself sitting with candidates and repeating the same sentence over and over again like a broken record, the kind that will eventually grind on your nerves (my nerves are frazzled is what I’m basically saying), as I tell them, ‘don’t give them that much credit.’  Let me give you an example so this really hits home:

I had a candidate who was internally known as “manager” but they were what the ecommerce market recognises as an established and very experienced “head of”. They applied for a “director” role directly via LinkedIn with the feedback being “we are looking for more experience”.

For example:

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In fact when it comes to ecommerce, salary is actually a better indication (emphasise on better) of a person's level Vs title for those who don't know any better.  But how does a candidate push back when there is already such a misunderstanding of what they do OR a lack of interest. I’m not trying to put myself out of a job here but titles can be confusing within ecommerce if you’re not a native.

We all have basic human SEO keyword search capabilities within us and gatekeepers scanning CVs and LinkedIn will subconsciously pull out keywords they’re looking for without really understanding whether you’re the Director of a £1bn company or a £100k start-up or taking the time to understand the wider context of the role, company, place in the market and what that professional might have covered outside of their role. Context is key guys, we know this, and it makes all the difference. There are weird and wonderful new roles being created every month in ecommerce so we can’t afford to base decisions on title alone which sounds really obvious but trust me, people are doing it.

We recently worked on a head of digital customer experience. The client was brilliant and asked for our guidance before taking the role to market because it could have included words such as development, IT, systems, programme, CX, journey, product, optimisation etc. The latter few could have worked but not for this specific role and profile we needed.

What do the gatekeepers, who incidentally range from MDs to HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers, really know about your role?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Or it’s best to assume they don’t! Companies misrepresent roles all the time, and they often don’t name them correctly in the first place vs the market. They do this because of mis-education, budgets, internal red tape and sometimes for the sake of internal egos that need to be stroked. There are literally a hundred reasons why a role is given a specific title and a lot of the time, they’re nothing to do with what you actually do on a day-to-day basis within that role. You know your job better than anyone else and you know where your title sits within the wider organisation, what grade you’re on and what it means within the market. This title that has been decreed to you is not a concrete thing. There is room to shift it and rearrange it slightly to accurately reflect your workload and the value you bring to business. There isn’t a secret police division hunting down people who use the wrong job title on their CV. That literally does not exist.

Either change your title for this part of the process or talk the gatekeeper through this and explain what you really do and what they actually need. The number of clients I speak to who still think a digital marketing manager and an ecommerce manager is the same thing is, well, terrifying really.

If you’re still unsure how to do this, try asking your best mates down the pub what they think you do, and what your title means you actually do. If they struggle, then assume that the gatekeepers when applying for a new gig will as well. After that, all that’s left is to reclaim your inheritance (only a little dramatic) and name yourself relevant to the market, not what your company names you. After all, if you’re out searching in the market, they’re not going to be your company for much longer anyway.

Love from,

A rebel recruiter