Gatekeepers vs Enablers

OVER the past weeks we have been reaching out to various university career services teams to let them know about the free consulting resources that we have produced for students.  If you missed this development, you can access all the resources here.

The interesting thing about this process of reaching out to different universities is the vastly different responses that we have received.

And it’s basically the opposite of what you would expect.

Before reaching out we expected that, if responses differed at all, then it would be the most prestigious and well endowed universities whose career services teams would be the most reluctant to consider new career resources. After all, these universities are already well resourced and are hardly in need of help.

Strangely, we experienced the opposite.

Schools such as Wharton, LSE and HKU responded promptly and with thanks for letting them know about the new resources that we have made freely available for students.

In contrast, career services teams at some lesser known schools, which will remain nameless, seemed a bit put off by the new resources. Adding a link to the website or sharing an email takes about 1 minute, but perhaps that’s more work than they are accustomed to?

What exactly explains the difference in response?

The answer, it seems to us, lies in the distinction between gatekeepers and enablers.

If you are the director of career services at a prestigious university, then you probably quite qualified, motivated, well resourced, and see it as your role to help students with their careers as much as possible, even if that means referring them to a third party resource. In short, you are an enabler.

In contrast, if you are in the career services team at a lesser known school, you might be slightly under funded, and trying to make do the best you can. You are constantly juggling for time, and when new demands are placed on you, the best response is usually to to defer, delay or say ‘no’. In short, you are a gatekeeper.

A fair assessment, or are we being too harsh?

Do you have any experience dealing with gatekeepers? What strategies have you developed to get around them? (or to go over, under or through them?) Please share your thoughts in the consulting forum.

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