Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Voice Mails: How to Get Your Calls Returned

When I started recruiting IT professionals back in 1990, it was possible to call someone and have them actually pick up the phone.  Fast forward 22.5 years, I occasionally catch people at their desks but more often than not, I spend my days talking to voice mails.

Since voice mail is part of everyday life, may I make a few suggestions for getting your calls returned when you land in a voice mail system?
On a daily basis, I receive numerous voice mails.  This is a good thing and I’m not complaining but it becomes a frustrating proposition when easily 50% of the voice mails I listen to are not clear for one reason or another.

Sometimes the caller simply isn’t clear then they leave their message.  Other times, the caller is calling from a mobile phone and they don’t have a good signal.
Since we all use cell phones, we need to assume that when we’re leaving a voice mail, we might at that moment not have a good signal.  This isn’t the fault of the person leaving the message but it is a fact of life if you use a mobile phone.

An Effective Voice Mail
The most effective voice mails that are left in my voice mail box, the ones that are returned most quickly, are clear and concise and I only have to listen to them one time.  Here are a few ideas for being certain that your voice mail is clear, concise and can be understood.

·         Leave your name and number at the beginning and end of the voice mail.

·         Pronounce your name slowly.  You know your name but the person you’re calling may not.

·         If you have an unusual name or a name that might be spelled a number of different ways, consider spelling your name for the recipient of your voice mail.  This is very helpful to the person who might want to look you up on LinkedIn for example so they can determine who you are before they return your call.

·         If you’re calling from a cell phone, try to call from a quiet place.  If you’re able to, stop moving around while leaving a voice mail from a cell phone so your signal remains constant throughout the voice mail.

·         Clearly identify yourself and explain why you’re calling.

You might have guessed that I receive messages that I can’t understand.  This doesn’t happen here and there, it happens all the time.  It is more common than not that we have to listen to voice mail messages in my office 3, 4, 5 times in order to pick up someone’s name and/or their phone number.
Many voice mails I receive contain someone’s name and a phone number but no clear subject.

Does Clear Voice Mail Make a Difference?

You bet it does.  Rather than just sharing my opinion here, how about a real story that started with a carefully articulated voice mail and ended up in a $140,000 placement.

Several years ago, a security professional was referred to me by one of his colleagues.  His first attempt to reach me was by telephone.  I was on the phone when this person called but when I listened to his voice mail, the message was crystal clear, the person was articulate, the name and number were easy to understand.  The voice mail gave me an expectation that I would soon see this person’s resume and cover letter in my Inbox. 
The voice message was so professionally delivered that I couldn’t wait to see what kind of resume this person might deliver.  When I checked my Inbox, the resume and cover letter were there just like the person’s voice mail suggested they would be.

The resume was clearly and logically written.  I went back and read the cover letter.  The cover letter was concise and to the point.  I couldn’t wait to return this person’s call.  It turned out that this individual possessed a background that lined up well with a Director of Information Security, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery search I was working to fill.  A couple of weeks later, what started with a well-placed voice mail ended up in a new job for the candidate and a filled position for this security recruiter.

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