If you are in “job search mode,” I’m sure you are working hard to find opportunities.
However, something as simple as your outgoing voicemail can be helpful, or be a hindrance. For many employers, it will be the first time that they “hear” you. Since you are putting in the effort to find your next opportunity, let them hear you as a professional candidate that they would be eager to speak with.
To do this, please keep your outgoing voicemail message brief, clear and understandable, evenly paced and free of on hold distractions.
1. Be brief.
Your home or mobile voicemail should be short and to the point:
“You’ve reached Jennifer. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible.”
Most importantly, Jennifer has left her name in the message. Callers know they’ve reached the right person.
If you would rather leave a number, instead of a name, here’s a good template:
“You’ve reached 813-555-1212. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible.”
If you and other friends/family, share the phone, please give the employer a hint that he or she has reached the right place.
“You’ve reached Jennifer and Tony. Please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.”
Any of the above will be perfectly fine.
In my staffing days, I have called many people and gotten voicemails that ranged from children singing to some of the goofiest sound effects imaginable.
Tip: Some folks just don’t leave messages when they hear voicemails like that.
Bonus Tip: When I would call and hear such distractions, I would leave a message. What I wouldn’t know is if I had left it at the right place.
2. Be clearly understandable.
Back when I worked in radio, I loved going into the production studio and mixing all kinds of sound effects to create an entertaining voicemail message. If anyone called me, that person would, hopefully, be entertained—and be able to understand my voice above the explosions, fireworks and train whistles I’d added.
However, when I was looking for employment, I immediately changed my voicemail to something brief. It was also very clear. My voice was not fighting off street traffic, children playing or the television in the background.
Employers are calling you for a specific purpose; background distractions don’t help sell you as a professional, well-thought-out candidate.
When you record your voicemail, do it in the most quiet place possible. Let folks be able to hear you.
3. Keep things evenly paced.
Years ago, a recruiter left me a voicemail about a possible employment opportunity. However, he spoke so quickly, I had to play the message back a half dozen times in order to get all the necessary information.
My initial thought was “no one would normally leave a message that sounds like an auctioneer.” Not necessarily so. When I called the recruiter back about the employment opportunity, I got his voicemail. His message came by faster than a tourist driving back to TIA to catch a flight.
People can’t hear fast. Speak in your natural tone and pace so that the listener can easily understand it.
4. Stay free from “on hold” distractions.
Some folks have the option to put whatever they want for their “on hold” sound. Music is a matter of personal taste. However, anything that is loud, obnoxious or has offensive language is not a strong introduction to employers.
I would never suggest that you had to put “elevator music” as your default on hold.
Instead, think of what might bother your parents if they heard it. Put something on for “on hold” that wouldn’t bother them. That’s as good a guide as any.
These four simple steps regarding voicemail can make a huge difference in how employers perceive you. Let them “hear you” at your best when they reach your outgoing voicemail message.
Greg Lachs is a Temple Terrace resident who works in career services and staffing. He is an expert in resume writing, job search skills, interview skills, cover letters and other job search-related topics.