What Would I Hear?
If I were to call you right now at your job, what impression would I get of you? Would I think you were professional? Unprofessional? Tired? Would you make me feel like you were busy and not really listening? Or would I be able to tell that you’re having a bad day or upset with your supervisor? Hopefully, my impression would be the first one because you are answering the phone in a professional manner at all times. Regardless of how you feel at that moment, you should always answer the phone pleasantly because you never know who is on the other end – especially if you receive phone calls from the public. State your name and your company/department clearly and sound enthusiastic when receiving a call. Do this simple experiment tomorrow when you go to work…..answer each call with a smile on your face (whether you feel like it or not) and see if it doesn’t put some “cheer” in your voice. I know it’s not always easy to do (especially on a Monday morning), but it works!
Placing Calls At Work
When placing a call to someone else in the workplace use proper phone etiquette as well. Your co-workers are human too, so take a second to ask how they are before getting right down to business. It takes 2 seconds to ask someone how their weekend was before you jump into asking them to send a report to you or fix a problem. The more you get to know them on a personal level, the more prone they are to want to work with you and send you the reports you are requesting. Think about it….you would also appreciate the same.
Personal Phone Calls
Now, let’s switch to your personal cell phone………UH OH!! If I were to listen to the voicemail message you have on your cell phone, what would I think? Would you want a potential employer to hear the voicemail message you currently have? Did you know that your voicemail message says a lot about you? It is one of the first impressions an employer has of you. As a hiring manager, I called potential employees all the time and judged them based on their voicemail message. Was it fair? Maybe not, but that’s what I did. Having music playing as your answer tone or on your voicemail message is NOT appropriate. When job searching you should record a simple, but professional message because a potential employer could be turned off by an unprofessional message. Below is an example:
Hello, you have reached the voicemail for Dena. I am not able to come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you and have a great day!
Do’s and Don’ts
When looking for a job, be sure to check your missed calls and voicemail regularly and return all calls ASAP. A missed call or an ignored message may mean a missed interview or job offer. And whatever you do…..DO NOT put an employer on hold when they are calling you to offer you a job or set up an interview. I actually know of a situation where a candidate was on the phone with an employer and they were discussing the job offer. The employer wanted the candidate to come in and sign the paperwork and finalize when the first day of employment would be. The candidate received a call on the other line and clicked over to answer it. By the time she clicked back over, the employer rescinded her job offer and no longer wanted to hire the candidate. I called the employer later that same day to ask what made her change her mind. She said she didn’t think the candidate was serious about accepting the job because she clicked over to take another call. So, those few moments of answering another call actually cost the candidate the job!
Answering the Phone While Preoccupied
When answering the phone at home or while driving in your car, you shouldn’t have loud noise or music playing in the background. If an unfamiliar number comes up on your caller ID, it could be an employer so turn your radio or TV down BEFORE answering the call. You do expect them to call you, right??? So be prepared. If you are driving, it is perfectly okay to ask them to give you a minute to pull over so you can get paper and a pen to write down information. Don’t ask if you can call them back…..just ask them to give you a minute and pull over and park your car as quickly as possible. (Tip: If you can’t pull over and happen to have someone else in the car with you, put your phone on speaker and have the passenger write information down for you.) The same is true if you are out having lunch or at the mall and an employer calls, ask them to give you a moment to get to a quiet place. You don’t have to say where you are, just let them know you would like to be able to hear them clearly and would like a moment to step away from the noise.
Placing Calls to Employers
If you are calling an employer to follow up to an interview or maybe networking with an employer over the phone, jot down the key points you want to discuss beforehand in case you get nervous. This will help to keep you on track and keep you from stumbling over your words. Also, have your 30 second commercial memorized if you are introducing yourself or trying to “sell yourself” to the employer. If you will be setting up an interview or appointment, have a calendar in front of you so you can readily set a time to meet. Be mindful of the employer’s time and discuss what’s necessary without dragging the conversation out. Lastly, if you need to leave a voicemail message for them, keep that brief as well.
So, the next time you receive/place a call or record your voicemail message, think about what it says about you. At your current job, you just might win a customer over by answering the phone pleasantly. Also, you may be surprised how much your co-workers appreciate a genuine inquiry about their day before requesting something from them right away. When interacting with employers, hopefully you have realized that your phone etiquette and/or voicemail message could very well cost you the job!