“Your voicemail is so annoying…”

If you’d like to ensure that employers never return your phone calls, here’s the voicemail you could leave:

“Hey Susan, it’s Stan. I think you’ll agree that I’m perfect for the Director job we discussed four weeks ago. When I spoke with your CEO at our Alumni Conference last week, he mentioned what a great background I have for the role. Please call me back — I’m ready to get started on Monday!”

Susan isn’t going to call back. Why?

1. No last name! No phone number!
2. “I think you’ll agree that I’m perfect for the Director job.” This is presumptuous, obnoxious, and untrue. Three strikes and you’re out.
3. “…four weeks ago.” If this is your first follow-up, four weeks seems like a long time without even a thank you note! How serious are you, Stan?
4. “When I spoke with your CEO at our Alumni Conference …” — the appeal to old school ties and the vaguely threatening hint referring to the person who signs the paychecks do you a disservice.
5. “He mentioned what a great background I have…” OK, well, if you’re going to handle it yourself, you don’t need the HR person to help you out. You just got put into the “limbo” category from which you shall never escape.
6. “Please call me back — I’m ready to get started on Monday!” Being available is good, sounding desperate is not.

The bottom line is, you never want an employer to think “He sure leaves annoying voicemails!”

The telephone can be one of the most powerful tools in your job search when it’s used correctly. But used inexpertly — as Stan has done — it can also sink you. Poor voicemails can really bog job-seekers down. Long-winded, wordy, winding voicemails turn off recipients and decrease your chances of success.

So let’s get you set up to do this right and show you how to leave effective voicemail.

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, enable you to develop the required skills and talents if you do not have them, or make the hiring manager move any faster than he or she intends to.

What your voicemail can do is to pleasantly remind them of your presence, interest, and qualifications.

By giving the recruiter, the HR person, and the future hiring manager a pleasant nudge — did I emphasize pleasant? — you and your capabilities 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

What does that sound like?

“Hi Susan, it’s Jim Ablebody at 867-5309. Just calling to let you know how excited I am about the opportunity there at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. As I mentioned last week, I’ve spent 17 years in nuclear safety, so I feel there could be a great fit. Hey, just like Mariano Rivera, I’m getting better with age! Thanks, Susan, 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 here?

1. It’s short.
2. Jim gave his phone number and repeated his full name (slowly) twice. No need to replay the message to get his information.
3. Jim is upbeat — “how excited I am,” ‘I feel there could be a great fit” — without being needy or pushy.
4. “As I mentioned last week” — my advice on phone follow-up is: call one time per week for five weeks. That lets them know that you’re consistently interested, without appearing desperate. And if you don’t hear back after five weeks, it is time to move on.
5. “I’ve spent 17 years” — he reminds Susan of his highly relevant qualifications without giving his whole resume.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. It’s short (about 30 seconds is the right amount of time) and pleasant. That increases the odds that the next time the job is discussed, his name will come up. And the next time his name comes up, it will be in a positive light. And that’s the most you should hope for from a voicemail. Trying for a bigger result is ultimately just going to set you back.

As Jim Ablebody demonstrates, you should leave messages that will get you noticed for your pleasantness, qualifications, and charm.

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

Good luck this week…

I’ll be rooting for you!

Write us your thoughts about this post. Be kind & Play nice.
  1. WTF says:

    Then why’d you go into HR…Bonehead?

  2. WhoahDUDE says:

    Oh no…Long Winded Messages!  Seriously the morality of your lack of patience, makes me wonder how often you were a target by bullies in school

  3. Sweet says:

    You found that in the men’s room too?

  4. REALLY says:

    Capoprn…I should bustacap…Stop talking before blood comes out of you ear!

  5. DrSuess says:

    Hi…My Name is SAM…SAM I AM…Iliek Green Eggs and Ham

  6. ArrogantPrickFighter says:

    You are an idiot…And I hope your policies get you fired!  And don’t tell me where to post you arrogant prick!

  7. BOING says:

    How are we getting outsourced to these suckups?

  8. ROTFLMAO says:


  9. ForThoseabouttorock says:

    Why can’t anyone have ACDC on their Voicemail…Like we did in the 1970′s

  10. AC says:

    Unless you are like me, and have worked in every industry, and have every phone number and email

  11. Anonymous says:

    Keep wishing, APF and keep posting wherever you like. 

  12. Guest says:

     Not sure where you have been working but HR never gets to make those decisions.  Even if they make HR deliver the message it is always the CEO, COO or another Exec actually making the decision.  If they have then there is something wrong with the company you have worked for. 

    If you were/are a CEO and acted like that towards anyone, then there is a different issue than what you are blaming on someone else.  

  13. Anonymous says:

    Fair enough. That’s a reasonable viewpoint.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Sure, and perhaps I’d prefer if only writers were able to comment on my writing! But that’s not the way the world works, Thinck, and if you want to work in a corporation filled with other individuals, you need to understand *their* requirements, not just yours.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Um…. that’s not correct, Montims.  Thanks for playing though…

  16. Anonymous says:

    That’s a good point, L., I probably shouldn’t have included that in the voicemail.

  17. Anonymous says:

    You’re right, Ollie!

  18. ThereseMBonfiglio says:

    My personal pet peeve is when I have to listen to a VM greeting that tells me that my call will be returned at (the caller’s) earliest convenience! Do they not know how RUDE and arrogant that sounds?
    “Hi! This is Mike. Leave me a message and I will return your call at my earliest convenience.” 

  19. Mbaiaoure mainde Amos says:

    Thank you for dierction, i don’t know how to use this email voice, can you see my cv?

  20. Hank says:

    Excellent blog.  First one I reply to.  Great comments from the gallery.

  21. Thincker says:

    I worked in global 1000 corporations for 17 years and for the last 17 years have run multiple businesses and  launched many successful enterprises. What I have found is that the recruiting business is a lot like the greeting card business — a fabricated “need”. I have interviewed hundreds of people and hired dozens.

    The best way to hire someone is to interview them personally and never restrict their resumes to some format or preordained length- it is the sign of real interest to invest in your recruits and to have intelligent well trained technical people do careful non-ADD screening.

    In your case, if you didn’t make a fortune by selling hotjobs at the right time and place, you would just be another “recruit” too…

    You should take time to appreciate that reality – there but for fortune. And if you want to check me out on linkedin feel free to do so at http://www.linkedin.com/in/thincker. Maybe you can give me some resume tips…

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Hank!

  23. Simon says:

    I agree 100% with your assessment of “hey”.

  24. Osmanalaweel says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am 30+ years IT experience  I have manage a lot of projects, if  you have any managerial job I am ready , you can send me Email or call me on my Mobile +2-01004513490

  25. Drparenti says:

    I knew I heard that phone number somewhere before. Great song!

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