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Dealing with HR Gatekeepers

19 January 2010 Written by: Orietta Ramirez 7 Comments
Dealing with HR Gatekeepers

(Warning: I am going to get on my soapbox, and talk about those to whom we have to sell our wares just so we can get in front of the hiring manager. They are the Human Resource representatives.)

HR are the individuals who have to balance the needs and goals of the firm, help the executives and leadership to achieve their goals from a people perspective, and who create an open-door-like policy with the general population.

I have worked in this area for a number of years. I have valued colleagues and trusted friends in the field, and to you I say, you already know this and get it, but …

What has happened to professionalism, courtesy and respect? Yes, I went there. You see, since being fired (wow, I can finally say that without cringing), I have had to reach out and coordinate with HR reps. I thought I understood the talk, the approach and the process. I could not have been more wrong. or felt more betrayed.

Sadly, I am not alone. Many are in the same boat (read here: we’re drowning), and have contacted me, quizzically and in despair, to ask, why are they being such [you can fill in the blank here]? We are fragile right now, working on self-esteem and self-confidence, so to be belittled, tossed aside and worst yet, ignored is not what HR does.

I speak from personal experience. While pursuing an opening, I connected with the appropriate HR rep. After numerous email attempts, I finally was scheduled to meet the hiring manager. I went through a number of rounds in this process. Frustratingly, I had to contact the HR rep each and every time, not only to follow up, but to nudge the next round. Even if overwhelmed, how much time does it take to answer an email, even with just an “I will get back to you”? Silence, especially in this difficult job climate is not something that is acceptable, tolerable or considerate. Suffice to say, and I should have not been surprised, after making it to the final round, I found out from a third party that I did not get the job. When I queried HR, the response was, “Well I’m sure you understand why we went with the other candidate.” Uh, no! I do not. Why did I have to hear it from someone else? Talk about insensitive, thoughtless and downright unprofessional. Begs the question, if HR treats me like this now, how is it going to be when I’m an employee and slave to their demands and limitations?

Another scenario, I was recommended (thankfully) for a position by a senior executive. HR rep, after having me wait for over an hour past our scheduled time (guess my time is not as important as theirs, or was this a test of stamina of mind and will?), and as we were walking to their office, stated “I’m curious to see how the hiring manager is going to handle your meeting, as we know how and why you got here”. Petty? Nah. Talk about a vote of confidence, huh? I surmised that they were possibly resentful of the fact that someone put my resume in front of them and told them to see me. So I refrained from being too judgmental (not!). Even if true (I’m sure you’ve heard of nepotism), you would hope to be given the benefit of the doubt. Well, met with the hiring manager, and although there were sufficient reasons to hire me (as we know how perfect I am), I did not make it to the next round. I figured that out after three, yes 3 weeks of following up via email and voice mail with the HR rep. No response whatsoever. I could hear the “Take that!” Gave new meaning to the organizational theory that HR ought to be an invisible member of the firm” … heck they downright disappeared off the face of the earth!

Finally, how about those who ask for your resume, chat with you, tell you they have things in mind, and then “cricket, cricket”?

My message to HR is, you represent the firm! You are supposedly “people people”. If someone is interested in working for your company, meeting the firm’s bottom line while providing added value, why would you treat them like personas non-grata? Fortunately for you, the present state of the economy is providing you with a plethora of qualified, talented and willing candidates. Note to you: the economy will improve one day. That applicant you shunned like a bad itch could possibly be someone you will someday be reporting to (you know how they say it’s a small world – and, oh yeah Karma!). Worst yet (for you), that person might one day be in the position to hire you … or not (I know, but I can dream). Professional courtesy, respectful dealings and fair treatment, all elements that as HR, you are supposed to engender in the work environment. Let’s put the “human”ity back in human resources. We are worthy. To those who get it, thank you, we truly appreciate it – now go, tell and show the others.

Ok, I feel better, but I could go on! How were your encounters with The Gatekeepers?

Orietta Ramirez is a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, raised in The Bronx, and presently calls home in Dutchess County, New York. Pedagogically, her claim to fame, as she puts it, is that she shares Cardinal Spellman H.S. as her alma mater with the distinguished Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Fordham University with Vince Lombardi and Steve Bellán, first Latin American to play Major League Baseball, and with Geraldo Rivera, another Brooklyn Law School alum. A first generation Chilean-American, she is a dynamic bilingual lawyer, employee relations advocate and project manager, with experience in human capital administration, audit and risk management. While leveraging her legal and compliance background as an HR partner, she incorporates her expertise on projects and in business relationships with a focus on diversity and inclusion as well as talent management. She is an avid reader and includes salsa dancing among her extracurricular activities, and is always open to all that is intriguing and challenging, which offers new opportunities for thought.

You can learn so much about this author by clicking here.


  • Maggie Hernandez said:

    Easier said than done, I’m sure. But, what I would give to be unemployed so I could run my own show! Why not give opening your business a shot? You’re a smart, educated woman with a voice (and a law degree). Check out this article “Things to Do With a Law Degree”
    by Joseph Nicholson (http://www.ehow.com/way_5194484_things-do-law-degree.html).

  • Jose Manuel de Jesus said:

    Folks and Orietta,
    You are so poignant and right on here. There are moments when you have to wonder, “How did an idiot like this get into HR,” when thinking of some of the people whom I have interviewed with. This has to include senior managers who are competely intimidated by a well-rounded resume. (You know who you are out there, don’t pretend.). No one is perfect, but there are key points of contact and matching for personality, as well as experience and track record of achievement.
    One has to wonder what book/manual these folks are taking their HR-speak and hiring practices from and when it was written. Everyone gets laid-off or fired once or twice in their lives. There has to be a point from which to go from this place. It seems like such a tragedy but ther are times when it is a blessing in disguise to be let go froma position that is not paying enough, has limited growth and work mobility opportunities, and where the supervisor is simply uncomfortable with anyone else ‘shining’ other than him/her, or worse: Is a condescending, second-guessing and just plain nasty person. I have had all of these bosses at one time or another and boy am I glad to have been able to move on.
    JM De Jesus
    Certified Business Advisor
    Brooklyn Small Business Development Center
    at NY City College of Technology

  • Walter "super mercado" said:

    Funny you should use the term ‘gatekeepers’ as an HR analogy. I find they have been just that, but more like Cerberus, the three-headed hound that guards the gates of hell!
    These “hounds of hell”, so to speak, have been given the excuse in this economy to rear their ugly heads. Bitter? No! Just calling them out on their unabashed callousness, incompetence and pomposity.
    Like you point out, if they are not busy not responding to e-mails/phone calls and failing to follow-up with prospectives on feedback/next steps, they are out there in cyberspace trolling social networking/job sites for their next victim, I mean candidate, whom they can submit to their sadistic gauntlet of “interviews”, probitive inquisitions and background investigations. Hey, they have job security knowing that if the whole HR thing doesn’t work out, they can always get jobs with the TSA finding new ways to piss off, harass, cavity-search and delay Christmas holiday travelers. Nuff said! Sorry, you already took the high road, so I wanted to avoid that traffic.

  • uberVU - social comments said:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by OriettaERamirez: RT @CareerJockey Orietta’s You’re Fired Series Continues. Dealing with HR Gatekeepers | CareerJockey http://tinyurl.com/ye63rqy

  • Mary Keane said:

    Grammar! In the headline, no less.

  • Jorge Lazaro Diaz said:

    Thanks for pointing out the grammar mistakes. I may start intentionally misspelling words just to get more comments.

    The fault falls completely on me. Orietta sends me the articles. I come up with the headlines. Since I had to go in and fix this, I changed it to “Dealing with HR Gatekeepers” which seemed like a better headline than what I had before.

    Keep on keeping me honest.

  • Orietta (author) said:

    Mary – appreciate your calling us out on the grammar issue. As much as content is the primary focus, correct and proper usage has intrinsic value.

    Jorge – kudos for your accountability, and here I thought you were infallible!:)

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