Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Leave a Professional Voicemail in Your Job Search

How to Leave Professional Voicemail in Your Job Search--Career Action Blog
Leave a professional
in your job search!
I’m always amazed by the poor voicemail messages left by many professional people. Here are examples of the errors people make when leaving voicemail messages:
  • Not speaking clearly
  • Speaking too quickly
  • Not properly identifying themselves by name and (if applicable) by organization
  • Not stating the reason for their call
  • Not leaving a phone number with area code
  • Not stating the best time to call back
  • Being unprofessional in tone and approach

These mistakes cause many problems by making it difficult for the person you called to
  • Know who you are
  • Understand why you called
  • Discern how and when to get back to you
  • Prioritize a return call amid other demands of the day
  • Prepare for a return call by having the necessary information or an appropriate response at hand
  • Regard you as a professional

So why do people leave bad voicemail messages? Perhaps they are rushed, are trying to multitask, are nervous, are taken off guard by needing to leave a message, or are not clear about the purpose of their call. They do not put themselves in the other person’s shoes and realize just how busy he or she may be. The person you called may get many voicemails. The person isn’t waiting for your call and doesn’t always know who you are. A lack of clarity and detail in your voicemail may confuse the person you are calling or result in the call not being returned.

As a shy or introverted job seeker, your inclination when needing to leave a voicemail message is to get it over with quickly. So you may be prone to speaking quickly, not leaving all the needed information for a person to return your call, and sounding unprofessional. When you are leaving a voicemail as part of your job search, you may kill your chances of getting hired if you aren’t clear and professional.

To leave good voicemail messages during your job hunt, whether to a hiring manager, human resources person, networking contact, and others, always be prepared and take the following steps:

1. Think through the purpose of your call. Are you following up on a resume? Are you returning a call to set up an interview? Are you trying to set up an informational interview? Jot down the reason for your call. You may wish to write a little script to help with nervousness.

2. Decide how you want to identify yourself. Is your name alone sufficient? Consider adding information, such as “I am the job candidate you called this morning” or “I am Joe Smith’s colleague, and he suggested I call about your job opening for an accountant.”

3. Think about how and when the person can best reach you. Leave your phone number, including area code, and state the best times to call back. You may also state that you will follow up the voicemail with an email if you have the person’s email address.

4. Practice three scenarios before making the call. First scenario: What will you say if the person answers? Second scenario: What will you say if you get voicemail instead? Third scenario: What will you say if someone else answers the phone?

5. Get ready to make the call. Calm any jitters by breathing deeply, getting to a quiet location to avoid background noise and distractions, having your purpose in mind, gathering any notes and a pen, and remembering to sound upbeat and professional. All of these points will help to allay your shyness or introversion.

6. Then call!

If you follow the above steps, I know you will leave great voicemail messages and make a good impression. You will have a leg up on other job seekers.

What if the person doesn’t return your voicemail? Swallow your fear and try again! Also send a follow-up email if you have the person’s email address.

What tips do you have for leaving good voicemails? Please let me know.


  1. Repeat your phone number! It's amazing how many people speed through their phone number (the first time) - repeat it slowly!

  2. State your name and phone number at the beginning of the call and also at the end of the call.