Your phone is your golden ticket to a job interview. Email is an important communications channel in the job hunting process, but a phone call is often what leads to real movement in your search. Today we’ll address a few key elements of phone communication to ensure you are set up for success!
Setting up your voicemail
Let’s start with voicemail, as this is often the first interaction a recruiter will have with you via phone. Everyone these days is busy, so it’s not uncommon for a job seeker to miss a call from a recruiter. Don’t sweat it.
In order to make sure that you don’t miss out on an opportunity, it’s essential that your voicemail is set up, and that the message is clear, concise, and professional. Take a few minutes to record your message in a quiet place (no road noise, music, or talking in the background). Your voicemail message should include your first and last name, so the recruiter is reassured that they dialed the correct number. Beyond that, you can tailor it to your personality, but keep it simple and to the point—nobody likes waiting for two minutes to leave a ten second voicemail. Here’s an example:
“Hi, you have reached John Doe. Sorry I missed your call, but please leave your name, phone number, and brief message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
Leaving a voicemail
What if you are the one leaving the message? It’s easy to get nervous and forget what you were going to say, especially if you were expecting an answer. However, this can be easily addressed. Write down a few bullets before picking up the phone so you can glance over your notes if you lose your train of thought. A well-crafted message should take the following form:
- A quick greeting
- Your name
- Why you are calling
- A request for a callback
- Your phone number
- Repeat your phone number
- Repeat your name and why you are calling
- A farewell
So what does that actually look like?
“Good morning, this is John Doe, calling about the opening for xyz position. I would love to learn more about the opportunity and set up a time to meet in person to discuss my qualifications. Please give me a call back at your earliest convenience. My phone number is (555) 555-5555. That’s (555) 555-5555. Again this is John Doe calling about the xyz position. Thanks and talk soon.”
Try to speak slowly and clearly so that the recruiter can take notes and avoid replaying the message. By repeating your name and phone number, you’ll make it easier for the recruiter to call you back—and that’s always a good thing!
The Call Itself
So you have finally gotten ahold of the recruiter and have them on the phone. Now what?
It’s easy to get excited and start talking fast. Try to speak slowly and confidently, pausing occasionally in case they need to interject. Small pauses seem uncomfortable at first, but they are highly useful! If the recruiter starts talking for a long time, try to add in an occasional “mm-hmm” or “OK” when they pause to show you are actively listening, but don’t overdo it! It can be highly distracting when the listener is constantly chiming in with a “verbal head nod.”
Before hanging up, be sure to talk next steps. It’s often easiest to summarize some of the key points of the conversation, and then take the initiative with proposing next steps. For example:
“Thanks for taking the time to talk through the position a bit more. I’m really excited about x and y and would love to get a chance to meet the team / see the office. In terms of next steps, would it be possible to set up an in-person meeting sometime later this week?”
The recruiter may take the lead, or they may decline your proposal, but it’s always good to be proactive. Worst case, they’ll tell you that “they’ll be in touch.” If that happens, end the conversation by thanking them and letting them know that you’ll be on the lookout for a call or email from them. By making your expectation for a follow up clear, it makes it easier for you to reach out if you don’t hear back from them by the outlined time.
When to pick up
What happens if you get ambushed? Maybe you are at the grocery store or at a loud party when your phone starts ringing. Now what?
If you are in a situation that you are comfortable sharing with the recruiter and you can quickly step outside, feel free to pick up. Start with a quick exchange of greetings, and then quickly explain the situation.
“I’m just getting off the subway. Would you mind if I called you back in 5 minutes once I get to a quieter place?”
“Could you give me just a moment while I step outside?” (Only do this if stepping outside will take you less than 10 or 15 seconds! Otherwise, offer to call them back).
If you are at a loud concert or having a drink with some friends at a bar, let it go to voicemail. It may be tempting to pick up, but you don’t want to risk giving off a bad impression or not being able to hear the caller. If they want to talk to you, they will leave a message.
Wrapping it up
Phone conversations are a key part of the job hunting process. The lack of eye contact and body language can make phone conversations intimidating, but with these tips, you’ll project confidence and professionalism to any recruiter who may call. Good luck!
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