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Career Advice

From Marc Cenedella
Marc Cenedella

This Thanksgiving season all-around car guy Bob Lutz talks straight about the turkey that was the Pontiac Aztek.

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Can you call me back, please?

FILED UNDER: Presentation.

Good Monday morning,

"Did you get my tweet about the poke when I checked-in via our connection?"

When did business start to sound like a teenagers' gabfest?

With all the newfangled (and oldfangled) stuff out there, can't we just, you know, talk to each other like normal human beings sometimes? You know, on the phone or something?

And the truth of it is, one of the most powerful tools in your job search is still the telephone. And one of the most important skills for getting people on the telephone in your job-hunt is leaving effective voicemail. Poor voicemails — long-winded, wordy, winding, directionless voicemails — are an obstacle between you and your speaking with a real, live human being. So let's get set on the right way.

First off, you'll need to realize that recruiters and HR people are very, very busy people. All day long, they interview candidates, do phone screen interviews, extend job offers, negotiate offer letters, and coordinate with their hiring managers. It's talk, talk, talk, all day long for them.

Your voicemail is NOT going to get them to change the job to be an entirely different kind of job, cause you to develop the required skills and talents if you do not have them, make the hiring manager move any faster than he or she intends to, or turn you, the job, or your future boss into something you're not.

What your voicemail IS going to do is remind them of your presence, interest, and qualifications. Pleasantly.

No job description is set in stone, and even the same job description is recruited in different ways by different managers. It's the same way a coach can use different types of wide receivers, you choose different clubs for your golf shot, or a chef searches the farmers' market for veggies that are fatter / skinnier / juicier / denser than usual for a particular recipe they're working on. Bosses run teams, and team compositions and dynamics change over time.

By giving the recruiter, the HR person, and the future hiring manager a pleasant nudge — and let me emphasize pleasant — you and your possibilities stay active in their thinking.

Here's what you're going to leave in your voicemail:

  • Name (twice)
  • Phone number (twice, slowly)
  • Reminder that you exist / have previously interacted
  • An upbeat message
  • A pleasant reiteration of your interest
  • A graceful exit

So the correct way is:

"Hi Susan, it's Jim Ablebody. Just calling to let you know how excited I am about the opportunity there at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. As I mentioned when we met in mid-June, I've spent 17 years in nuclear safety, so I feel there could be a great fit. Hey, just like Jeter, I'm ready to break records! You can reach me at 867-5309, and, again, it's Jim [stop and tiny pause]. Ablebody [stop and tiny pause]. 867-5 [stop and tiny pause]. 309 [stop and tiny pause]. Thanks, Susan!"

What's right about this?

  • It's short.
  • Jim is positive, he's not accusing Susan of not getting back to him, even though it's been three weeks.
  • He expresses his interest and desire in the position. But not in a too heavy-handed way.
  • He reminds Susan of his highly relevant qualifications without giving his whole resume.
  • He repeats his name (twice) and his phone number (twice) so that Susan doesn't have to hit "rewind" or "play again" in order to get it.
  • Humor — even slightly corny humor — is good if you can pull it off. It shows good adjustment and implies that you're not too desperate if you can crack charming jokes by voicemail. And maybe, just maybe, if you make them smile, it will be a tiny bit more likely that you'll get the return call.
  • He doesn't try to do things that voicemail can't — close the deal, set a time to talk, make long-winded arguments about his fit for the position, or push the timetable faster than it is going.
  • It's short (about 30 seconds is the right amount of time) and pleasant.

And with effective voicemail, when the job comes up for discussion again (which is out of your hands), and other candidates' qualifications are discussed (which is out of your hands), you will come up in a positive, pleasant light (which is the only thing in your hands) without any comments about your attitude on the voicemail or pushiness or obvious desperation. "Do no harm" and doing a tiny, little bit of good, is the right way.

And that, Readers, is the goal of effective voicemail.

Good luck this week, I'll be rooting for you!

Three thousand (and three) regards,
Marc Cenedella, CEO & Founder

Marc Cenedella's Twitter Follow me on Twitter here: @cenedella



P.S. Got a tip about great voicemail in the job hunt? Join the conversation » "Can you call me back, please?"
P.P.S. Extra credit if you pick out the song reference in today’s newsletter.

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