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3 Phone Blunders that Can Hang Up Your Job Search

On the heels of Rick's post yesterday about phone interviews, I thought we should look at another phone-related topic for job seekers. I actually got this idea from a comment in my post about resume mistakes last week, where astute reader "Marilyn" pointed out that job seekers often forget about changing their voicemail messages, coaching the other people who might answer their phones, and using personal (not work) numbers in their job search. Here's how to keep these three phone-related blunders from disconnecting your employment opportunities.

Blunder #1. An inappropriate or cutesy voicemail message.

Child Answering PhoneYour outgoing voicemail or answering machine message should tell hiring managers what they need to know, as quickly as possible.

In fact this post, called "How to Make Your Outgoing Voicemail Message Not Suck," makes a good argument for recording nothing more than your name and phone number. (That may only be an option if you live alone.)



So keep your messages clean and simple, and DON'T include any
of the following:

  • Precious children's voices ("Da Smiffs ahh not home wight now!")
  • Snark ("We might call you back if we feel like it.")
  • Background noises or music ("Woof-woof!" or thunka-thunka-thunka)
  • Hackneyed messages ("You know what to do!")
  • Long-winded lamentations about how sorry you are to have missed the call, how important the call is to you, what the caller should do after the beep, and how you'll be sure to return the call just as quickly as humanly possible. And by the way, thanks for calling!

After eye-rolling through umpteen messages like the ones above, imagine how refreshing it would be for a hiring manager to hear simply, "Julie O'Malley, 555-867-5309." Beep!

Blunder #2. Allowing others to answer for you.

I have kids. I have a husband. In the past, I've had roommates and other family members living with me. I love them all dearly, but I would not hire any of them as my personal secretary.

When you're anticipating calls from hiring managers, I highly recommend that you cajole, threaten, and/or bribe your fellow household members to NOT ANSWER the phone. Let "the machine" pick up (once you've heeded the advice above). Otherwise, you risk receiving the Job Seeker's Message from Hell:

"Oh I forgot, some guy named Bob or Rob from XYZ Company called yesterday. I think he wanted you to call him back? Something about an interview tomorrow morning."

Blunder #3. Giving out your work number.

This one doesn't need much explanation. It's not wise to announce to your would-be new boss that you are willing to use your current boss's resources to secure your next job. (Nor is it wise to converse with a potential employer within earshot of your coworkers and old boss.)

BONUS Blunder: 

It sounds obvious, but typos happen in phone numbers, too. Always double- and triple-check the accuracy of your phone number(s) on your resume. If they can't reach you, they can't hire you!

When you're involved in an active job hunt, you need to evaluate everything through the filter of how it might sound in the ears of a hiring manager. Here's a link to some other mistakes you can learn from (re: email, ring-backs, and more on the voicemail issue).

If you have any job-search blunders (or advice) of your own to share, please leave a comment! It's good karma to let others learn from your mistakes.

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