First impressions do count. Even though the old adage ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ is true, in business situations, the fact is that you will be judged on your voicemail greeting. How much influence do you think it has on a potential employer’s decision to interview you? None? Some? A lot? I’m willing to bet it’s a lot more than many people think.
Your job application could be spot on, your experience and background even more perfect, but if a potential employer is put off by your voicemail greeting, your chances of securing an interview can be significantly diminished. Have you ever called someone and cringed at their greeting? I call numerous people for professional purposes on a daily basis and often need to leave voicemail messages. I am constantly amazed at how unprofessional many people’s greetings sound. Some of the messages I’ve heard include:
- “Hi. You know the drill.” This sounds unprofessional and lazy. I do know the drill, but I would prefer you to identify yourself so that I know I’ve called the right number.
- “Please leave a short 10 second message for conversion to text.” This can create anxiety in the caller as they try desperately to squeeze their message into 10 seconds! Inevitably the caller is cut off and forced to call back or send a text message with more details.
- “Hi this is (name). I don’t check voicemail regularly so don’t leave a message. Please send me a text message or email me and I’ll get back to you.” Really? If I wanted to send you an email I would have sent you an email and as for sending a text message, isn’t it the same device? I’m recruiting and I’m calling to speak to people. If they’re not available, I’m leaving a message so they can call me back. If I was a recruiter and faced this message – I might just move on to the next candidate.
- “Hello … hello? … hello? … Just Kidding, leave me a message and I’ll call you back soon.” I don’t think this one needs any explanation. If you are 12, this one might be ok, but any older, you need to ditch it and start over.
- “Thanks for calling, leave a message.” This is OK, however, again you really need to identify yourself, so the caller is sure they have the right person.
There are many other no no’s when it comes to voicemail greetings – some of which include:
- Going into great detail about why you didn’t pick up the phone. We are all really busy and we know you probably are too – however we don’t need to know what you might be up to while we’re trying to call you. Just let us leave a message and then call back as soon as you are available.
- No greeting – i.e. the automated “The number you have reached is not available. Leave a message.” This comes across as lazy – if you haven’t gotten around to setting up your voicemail, recruiters may question your level of proactivity and ability to undertake the role.
- Greetings with excessive background noise – especially loud music or voices that sound like you’re at a party.
- No option to even leave a voicemail message – this one is annoying. Recruiters have limited time and very often have lots of options in terms of applicants. If there is no facility to even leave a voice message, it may be possible that they don’t get around to calling you back.
Your voicemail could be the first contact a potential employer has with you so you should ensure it sounds professional and lets the caller know that you will call them back. Write down your greeting before recording it because it’s much easier to read something than to ad lib it. A greeting like this is brief but works well:
“Hi, this is (name). Unfortunately I’m unable to take your call right now. Please leave a detailed message at the tone along with your name and phone number. I‘ll return your call as soon as I can. Thank you.”
The main criteria should be that your greeting is clear, succinct and professional sounding. Don’t um or ah (that’s where writing it down helps) and make sure you identify yourself and the fact that the caller should leave a message and you will return their call.
Are you applying for jobs and not hearing back? Do you think you need to change your voicemail greeting? If you would like assistance with your job applications and job search, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching Services.