Voice Mail – Friend or Foe?

Most books or articles that you read will tell you that if you send someone a resume you should follow up with a phone call.

I think a lot of people know that because I get lots of phone calls from people who send me resumes.

Typically it happens when I have run some type of career advertising on behalf of the client.

Most people - actually all of them don’t help their cause at all when they follow up and here’s why.

90% of the time the person following up reaches my voice mail and they leave me a message. This is how the message sounds 100% of the time:

“Hi my name is X and I sent you a resume last week. I just wanted to follow up and make sure you received it. Please call me back at….”

I never ever will call this person back. Why? They have not given me a compelling reason to. Think about it, I get hundreds of resumes from one ad. I have a stack of them sitting on my desk. Why should I go leafing through each one to find yours just so I can call you and tell you that yes I have your resume?

I mentioned on an earlier post that you should approach a job search with the end goal in mind. So every step you take has to result in an action that takes you closer to that goal. If you have sent a resume to me then your next step is to get an interview. Does the above phone call increase your chances of getting an interview?

Well if I call you back maybe you can turn the conversation into a semi-interview and I will be so charmed that I will have you come in. But it isn’t going to happen because you haven’t given me a good reason to call you back.

If the purpose of your call was merely to check to see if I received your resume then if I called you and said “Hi X it’s Anthony. Yes I received your resume” click and hung up then you would be happy right?

Let me suggest to you that you have a valuable tool available to you that can increase your chances of getting an interview if used properly: voice mail.

When you get the voice mail of the person you are trying to reach consider what would make that person excited enough to pull your resume out of the pile and call you.

First they have to know who you are. It is no good just to leave your name you must leave some details. Like I send you my resume it is on light blue paper and I used to work for X and Y.

However just doing that isn’t enough. You must used the voice mail to sell yourself. Think about it the person who is listening can’t interrupt, they can either listen to your message or skip it. So make your message compelling.

I suggest leaving one or two tidbits about your background that are germain to the position description and highlight how you fit the role. You want the person to think “hey this person sounds good, I think I will call them” remember no HR person wants to plow through a stack of resumes. If you can make things easier for them you will increase your chances of landing the position substantially.

I did sales recruitment for a large publicly traded firm for many years. I used to advertise many times and never received a good voice mail message follow up from those who had sent in their resumes. Here is the voice mail I would like to have heard (customize this for your own position):

"Anthony, my name is X and I sent you a resume last week on the sales position you advertised for Toronto. I don’t know if you had a chance to read my resume but I wanted to call and tell you I believe I am very qualified for the position.

I have 5 years sales experience in the industry and have always achieved quota. Last year I won a company award for most new customers and I have been promoted twice since I have been here. I have strong cold calling and closing skills and excel at penetrating new accounts.

I would love to meet with you to answer any questions you might have about my background. Please call me at ……"

Now that is a voice mail I would have returned. In the 6 years I recruited for this client I never received one like that. So if you do it imagine how it will make you stand out from the herd.

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