Phone Etiquette – First Impressions are Everything

Phone Etiquette – First Impressions are Everything

I frequently call my clients at their provided numbers to discuss their resumes. I am often amazed at what happens, and in particular, how harmful it will be to their job search efforts.

For example, I called a Senior Vice President candidate yesterday at the number he put on his resume. He answered the phone and, thinking I was a telemarketing firm, sternly asked me “What do you want?”. He lightened up considerably after he found out who I was, but I couldn’t help thinking how bad an impression he would make under the same circumstances if I had been an employer. Interestingly, when I called back to follow-up on some things, I got a voice mail recording of his 2-year old son trying his best to say “leave a message”. Although it was cute as could be, it wasn’t very professional.

Similarly, the other day I called a Director of IT client and got his wife on the phone. I asked if I might speak to Ted and she merely (and rather abruptly) said “he’s not here”. Now this is a guy who is aggressively job hunting. She made no effort to take a message and offered no assistance.

Then I called a woman who is a CFO candidate, having just accepted a retirement package. I got her son on the phone and, being a typical teenager, he was very abrupt and not particularly friendly.

Finally, I called a senior professional on his cell phone only to listen to a rap song touting the female bootie.

Bottomline, if you are looking for a job, use your cell phone as the primary contact number. That way you will be the one answering the phone. If an employer calls at an inopportune time, it’s fine to say you’re not in a position to speak right now and setup a time to talk.

Also, instruct your family on how to handle calls (even the kids). Ask them to inquire as to the nature of the call and take clear messages. Have a pad and a pen near each phone. You might even want them to offer your cell phone number to potential employers. And most of all, be pleasant!

Remember first impressions are lasting impressions.

X