You may not remember (or wish to remember) a time before texting, caller ID, or maybe even cell phones. But, lest we forget, a short ten years ago, answering machines were a thing. A big thing.
And today, the art of the voicemail is still alive. I know you know this. But sometimes, dear job-seeker, my experiences trying to get a hold of you tell me that you don’t really know this.
Listen up, job-seekers. Your voicemail greeting message is important. In fact, having your voicemail set up incorrectly — or worse, not at all — is going to make me less likely to hire you.
When I ask people why they haven’t set up their voicemail, I have yet to hear a good reason. The most common is that, “I never check my voicemail” or “Anyone who wants to get a hold of me will text me.”
Well, guess freaking what? Recruiters are not going to text you.
Here’s what your voicemail says about you.
“I’m sorry, but the person you have called has not set up their voicemail box. Please hang up and try again later.”
What I’m thinking: You’re lazy. Or, you don’t know how technology works. Or maybe I have the wrong number? I don’t know how to tell. You, sir, are just the worst.
No voicemail is unprofessional, and you’re making it harder for me to contact you. Since I can’t leave you a message to let you know I want to get in touch, I might try to send an email, but only after I’ve called and tried to reach other candidates on my list and/or feeling irrationally generous.
“You have reached 5-5-5, 1-2-3, 4-5-6-7. Please leave a message after the tone. Beep.”
OK, points for actually having a place for me to leave a message. Negative points for the Voicemail Lady doing the talking for you.
What I’m thinking: Did I call that number right? Is this the right number for this person? What if I leave a message for this person and it’s not their number?
While having a robot greet the person instead of you might be efficient and also a crutch for people who hate recording their own voice, it’s impersonal.
“You have reached the voicemail box of … DAN!!!! … please leave a message at the tone. Beep.”
Again, points for providing a voicemail. And your name — although full name would have been better.
What I’m thinking: OK, at least I know I have the right person. But wait, do I? Who is DAN really? The mix of you and the Voicemail Lady is throwing me off.
“Hi. I’m not here right now. Please leave a message. Beep.”
I like that you took the time to record your own message and provided a mailbox but …
What I’m thinking: Who are you? Again, do I have the right number? In the brief moment I heard you speak, can I tell anything about you? I’m skeptical. And annoyed.
“WHOOSH WHOOSH SWISSHSSSSHHHH ZZZZZZWHOOOSH… Beep.”
What I’m thinking: Whoa, did my line just cut out? Oh wait, is this a message? Did you record this in your car? Are you skydiving? Do I have the right person? DO YOU NEED HELP!!!!????
So, what should your voicemail greeting be?
All you. It can be short, but kick Voicemail Lady to the curb.
Cheerful. Friendly. Give a positive impression of you.
Recorded in a quiet place.
The easiest script is something like this:
“Hello, you’ve reached Dan Smith. I’m sorry I missed your call, but please leave a message, and I’ll call you back as soon as I can. Thank you!”
What I’m thinking: Good, I know who I have reached, I trust this person will get back to me, and I will leave a short message. Thank goodness.
Sarah Croft is Koru's Director of Instructional Design. She studied Japanese and Astronomy at Williams College and got her masters in education innovation from Harvard. She loves developing awesome, useful, and fun educational programs and experiences.