Telephone Etiquette Tips

Telephone is often how a potential employer will hear your voice for the very first time.  Are you doing everything within your power to make that initial impression a positive one?  Today I’ll cover some etiquette tips to help you stand out from your competition.

First, let’s talk about your phone.  If you don’t pick up their call, you’ll want to ensure your outgoing greeting is a professional one.  This means you should use your own voice – don’t let the automated voice simply state your phone number.  What if the employer had dialed an incorrect number, only to receive the automated voice, and ended up leaving interview instructions for a total stranger and not you?

Your outgoing message should be pleasant and professional, without music or other distractions.  State your name, you’re sorry you’ve missed their call, ask that they leave their name, their number, and a message… and that you’ll return their call as soon as possible.  Speak slowly and clearly enough to be understood.  Call your phone from another phone to hear how you actually sound.

Something really frustrating when trying to leave a message is when the person’s mailbox is full.  Or, even worse, they haven’t yet set up their mailbox.  What kind of impression does that leave with a potential employer?  Take time to set up your mail box and empty it on a regular basis.

Let’s switch gears for moment to talk about the message you’ll leave if you get an employer’s voicemail.  As with your own outgoing greeting, make sure you speak clearly and slowly enough to be heard.

Be sure to state your name, your phone number, and the purpose of your call.  Your name means your first AND last name.  Spell it if your name is difficult to understand. Your phone number means the area code and the seven subsequent digits.  I’d encourage you repeat your phone number.  It’s very frustrating to have to listen to a message several times to figure out who’s calling and to get the phone number written down correctly.

As one who grew up before the days of caller ID and redialing missed calls, I’m in the habit of mentioning my number.  Here’s why you should be sure to leave your number when calling an employer.  First of all, you’re likely calling their office phone.  They don’t have your number in their “address book.”  You might be one of many messages.  Don’t make them go back and hunt for the number of that missed call.

Once you’ve left your name and phone number, now you’ll need to leave the purpose of your call.  Some job hunters prefer to write out their message so they’ll sound professional and concise.  Remember to be relatively brief.  A rambling voice message is an instant turn off.

On a personal note, I much prefer my written client-related messages to be via email and not via texting.  Yes, I give my company-provided cell number to clients, but emailing allows me to easily maintain our written conversation on my work computer.  I realize it’s rare you’ll have the employer’s cell number, but if you do… unless there’s an extenuating circumstance, it’s typically best to call them or email them.

Job searching is competitive, so do the very best you can with the areas over which you have control.  Creating a positive telephone impression is one of those areas.  Good luck!