Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Do Your Telephone Skills Need Work?

The telephone can be one of the most powerful tools for your job search if used correctly.  While e-mails are always the easiest way to follow-up with an employer, the telephone presents an opportunity for the individual to connect a name with a voice.

Yet this great opportunity comes with great risk. If you don't communicate properly over the phone, you can do yourself more harm than good.

Hiring managers are very busy. When you make a follow-up call -- whether it's after an interview or a job fair meeting -- you will probably reach the answering machine rather than a real person. If you decide to leave a voicemail, make sure you are ready. Write out what you want to say before the call so you don't stumble while recording your message. You should also follow these tips:

  • Make sure to leave both your first and last name (twice).
  • Remind the person of your previous interaction. Don't assume you will be remembered.
  • Make it short. Nobody likes listening to messages that go on forever, especially people with busy schedules.
  • Give your phone number at the beginning and end of your voicemail. Pause between the digits to give the person time to write it down.
  • Speak at a steady pace. You need to find a balance between talking neither too slow nor too fast. Practice this until you get the right speed.
  • Reiterate your interest in joining the organization, but don't be presumptuous (i.e. "I think you'll agree that I'm a great fit for the job").
Don't expect to hear back immediately after you call. It can take a few days to get a return call. A good rule of thumb is to give the person at least a week to get back to you. After that, you can call again or send a follow-up e-mail.

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