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23Feb
February 23rd, 2012,
business phone etiquette

By Noël Rozny
Web Editor & Content Manager

Last week I was chatting with @CareerCoachTina (also known as Tina Mello) on Twitter about some of the obstacles facing today’s college graduates and job seekers. While there’s plenty of discussion about the traditional tools of the job search, like resumes, cover letters, and interviews, not necessarily everyone know how to handle those essential in-between communications: email and voicemail.

It may seem like a small detail, but how you speak on the phone and on your voicemail is key during your job hunt. Since it’s often the first impression a recruiter or hiring manager has of you, it has to be a good one. Here’s how to make sure you nail it.

The Telephone Etiquette You Need to Tweak

How and When You Answer the Phone
We answer our phone so many times every day that it’s probably something you rarely think about. After all, how many times do you pick up the phone without looking at who’s calling and mumble, “Hello?” (I’m raising my hand here – I’m guilty as charged.)

If you’re in the middle of a job search and number pops up on your caller ID that might be a recruiter or hiring manger, stop to think a minute before you answer the phone. Are you somewhere quiet you can talk? Are you outside where there’s tons of background noise, are your kids screaming the background, or are you in a black hole of bad reception? Are you in a place that makes you feel calm, collected and able to answer the questions he or she may want to ask?

If the answer is no, you may want to consider letting the call go to voicemail and returning it when you are somewhere quiet and you’re more focused. (If this is the first time you’re speaking with this individual, you need to make a good impression, and bad reception isn’t going to help your case.) Your other option is to answer and let the caller know that you’d like to return their call when you can give them your full attention.

If the answer is yes, then take a deep breath, take a seat, and take the call. Answer the phone with a professional greeting, such as “Hello, this is [your name.]” Hopefully you’ve got a copy of your resume and any other relevant job search materials close by to reference during your conversation.

Your Voicemail Message
How your record your voicemail greeting can also tell hiring managers a lot about you. Do you have music playing on your voicemail? Is there static or background noise on your message? Or have you not bothered to record a personalize message yet?

Show a potential boss that you’ve got what it takes to be a professional. Speak slowly and clearly on your voicemail, state your first and last name, and avoid any slang or informalities. Keeping it short and sweet is better too. Ideally, your voice mail should sound something like this:

“You’ve reach the voicemail of [First Name Last Name]. I am unable to answer your call right now. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”

How You Leave Messages
Voice mail works two ways: how you leave a message is just an important as the one you record for your own phone. Hiring managers and recruiters are very busy people, so if you call them directly, there’s a good chance you’re going to end up leaving a message. But if you talk too fast, ramble on for hours about how you really need a job, or forget to leave your contact information, your resume may get moved to the bottom of the pile.

It might sound silly, but before you return a call, have your vital information jotted down in front of you so you don’t forget anything. State your name, the purpose of your call, and then leave your contact information. That’s it. (Personally, I also love it when people state their phone number twice so if it’s not saved in my call list, I don’t have to go back and listen to the voicemail again.)

Having good phone etiquette can show future employers that you’re professional and that you have great attention to detail—all before they even schedule you for an interview.