Check Your Voice

The importance of voicemail in your job search.

With so much going on in our lives, the occasional voice message is unavoidable. Even when job searching, when we know we should be at our best, it proves impossible to pick up every call – especially during a New Hampshire election season! To make things even more stressful, we now have compounded messages to juggle – texts, emails, and tweets. With so many incoming requests for our attention we often tend just to give up and shut down entirely.

While actively job searching, it goes without saying that you should make it a practice to answer every call and be sure your voicemail message speaks to your professional nature. It also goes without saying that for every voice message you receive, a prompt return call is a best practice. Even if you are not interested in that position, it is an excellent way to network and open future doors.

Don’t have time you say? Remember that job searching is, in and of itself, a full-time job. If you are serious about finding a new role, it is important to set aside time. Providing full attention to someone who took the time to reach out to you is always the best course of action. No one likes playing phone tag, and in a competitive economy, silencing just one call, or forgetting to return one message, could cost you a great job.

You may also be surprised to hear that your recorded voicemail greeting can be quite meaningful to potential employers. This early stage communication may be an employer’s first (and perhaps last) impression of you. Recruiters see voicemails as a simple test – you know potential employers will be calling, so how prepared (and serious) are you? Once you open yourself up by applying for a role, you are being assessed, through every channel from phone calls to voice messages, emails to thank you notes. Like it or not, every move we make is judged, with our voicemail being no exception.

The content and tone of our voicemail greeting can be easily overlooked. We often record them when we are giddy to set up our new phone, and rarely do we have occasion (or care) to listen to them ourselves at a later date. Do yourself a favor, and take a moment to call yourself. Listen to your message with critical ears. Does it sound professional? Are you articulate? Do you seem distracted? Is your energy level high?

Though personality is important, this is not the time for a lengthy ramble or goofy humor so you can nix any Star Trek skits, as funny as they may be. Re-record your message and be sure your voice is clear, assertive, and your message succinct expressing confidence in your vocal inflection. Feel free to display a bit of your personality, but do not take things too far. Be upbeat, sound engaged, and speak clearly – just as you would in an interview. The goal is to assure the person calling you that you are on top of your responsibilities, able to communicate clearly, and are comfortable representing yourself in a professional manner at all times. After all, if you cannot master something as simple as voicemail, why would a company be interested in bringing you on as a hire?

So if you are actively job seeking, take the time to listen, tweak, and perfect your voice message. Have a colleague or a Masiello recruiter call and listen to be sure there is no background noise or static you may not hear, and that it picks up sooner rather than later if your phone is unreachable.  Moreover, if you are one of those people who never, ever returns calls, take care of that situation by disabling voicemail entirely or installing an app to help you manage your calls. Google Voice is an excellent tool that will even email you your recorded voice messages, and there are plenty of other free alternatives as well.

Finally, here are some simple templates you can use to get you started on mastering your voice mail. Use them as a foundation for your own personalized message. Be sure to memorize and recite naturally so as not to come across as reading a script!

The Old Standby

K.I.S.S.

“Hi, you have reached the voicemail of Joe Smith at 615.555.1212, I am currently away from my desk so please leave your name, number, and a detailed message and I will be happy to return your call as soon as possible. Thanks and have a great day!”

The Calendar                                                                                                                                             

If you receive many calls or know you will not be able to return them quickly, show attention to detail by leaving a customized, daily message with mention of your schedule. Just remember to follow up as promised!

“Happy Tuesday! You have reached the voicemail of Joe Smith at 603.555.1212. I am currently out of my home office for the duration of the day, returning tomorrow, September 5th. At that time, I will be returning calls and messages, so thank you for reaching out. I look forward to speaking with you!”

The Personal

For those who want to retain some of their personality, add some personalized touches – but be subtle.

“Hi! I am sorry to have missed your call; you’ve reached the voicemail of Joe Smith. I am currently off doing great things with my day, though I assure you that your call is equally as important to me. Please leave me a detailed message and I will be sure to return your call in a timely fashion. I thank you for reaching out and look forward to connecting soon.”

The Busy

Sometimes we are simply unable to take calls during the day, especially if currently working.

“Hello, you have reached the voicemail of Joe Smith. Due to the nature of my current position, I am unable to take unscheduled calls during regular business hours. If you would like to schedule a time to speak, please provide two to three times you may be available in your message and I will set aside time to return your call. You may prefer to reach me via email at JoeDotmith@YahooDotCom. My apologies for the inconvenience and I look forward to speaking with you soon.”