Being in the recruiting business, we make a lot of calls to candidates each day. And you would be surprised how many job seekers have put a lot of thought into their resume, but fail to follow through by ensuring a professional phone experience.
Remember that when a hiring manager calls you, it is your first chance to make a great impression. With so many phone options available, using both cellular and land lines, you should be able to cover all bases and be ready to receive the knock of opportunity. You just have to think about it and set it up first.
You want the entire experience to exude professionalism. So to get you started, here is a list of “things not to do” when it comes to receiving calls from potential employers:
1. Be funny on your voicemail message. This is great when you’re getting calls from friends and family, but if you’re on the job market, now is not the time to try out your stand-up comedian skills on your voicemail. Keep it simple and clear – for example, “You’ve reached the voicemail of John Smith. I can’t take your call right now, but leave me a message and I will return your call as quickly as possible.” Boring? Yes. Standard? Yes. But it’s the only way to act when you are job searching.
2. Don't mention your name on your voicemail. So many people have the automated message “You have reached 555-555-1234. Leave a message after the tone.” This type of message always makes me wonder if I dialed the number correctly, and if the person will actually get the message. It’s cryptic and unfriendly. Go with the option of having your real, live, human voice answering your phone when you can’t do so live.
3. Set up your phone with a nice ringback tone. Even a seemingly inoffensive song, such as classical music. It’s just not worth risking that the song you’ve chosen will offend the caller, or worse yet, that he/she has a negative memory associated with that song. Go with the old fashioned ringer.
4. Use your kids as an answering service. We really don’t like it when your roommate, spouse, or (this is the worst!) children answer the phone. If you have your resume on the market, direct calls to your cell phone, and ask your husband/wife/children/friends to let it go to voicemail if you cannot answer the phone yourself. Hiring managers (and recruiters!) often worry that the message will not make it through to the person we are trying to contact. It’s also easier for us to leave more detailed information on a voicemail than it is to do when someone is writing a message.
The general rule to keep in mind is, keep it professional. Now is not the time to showcase your creativity or comedic skills. If you wouldn’t do it in an interview, don’t do it on the phone.