What Your Voicemail Greeting Says About You

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.”

giphy-5 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.”

giphy-1-2 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.”

giphy-4 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.”

giphy-2 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.


giphy-3 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!!!!???? Rant over. So, what should your voicemail greeting be?

  1. All you. It can be short, but kick Voicemail Lady to the curb.
  2. Cheerful. Friendly. Give a positive impression of you.
  3. 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!”

giphy-6 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.

5 thoughts on “What Your Voicemail Greeting Says About You

  1. Just had to call 4 rejected candidates and tell them the didn’t get the position. I worked myself up for an entire day to do it, only to get 4 voicemails with “You’ve reached 5-5-5…”. I left messages on all of them, but now I’m worried that they won’t have gotten them, even after double checking I called the right number.
    Seriously, record something!

  2. This article (?) was a bit less helpful then I was hoping. I feel like anyone reading this is already aware that a bad or lazy message is a problem, or at least that what a caller hears might inform their opinion of you. Otherwise why click on this title. It was my hope to get a little advise on how to make my message stand out, or at least tips on how to avoid surprising, and less known, voicemail problems. Instead what I got was basically a rant, with the writer basically whining about voicemail greetings that are already recognized as being uninformative/lazy. Aboslutly no truly useful incites were actually given. In fact none of the commentary above offered substantive suggestions on what one should say, outside “give your name” or “don’t use the robot message”. The example of an acceptable message at the bottom was itself lacking any personality or effort – it is the human version of the robot message.
    I am sorry to rant myself, but individuals should be aware when creating a title that you are advertising the content of your paper. This means that people come in with expectations on the content they will be reading and that by the end their will be a conclusion that adds to the readers understanding of the subject. In this case neither of these goals were truly met.

    FYI :
    With the excuse of adding flare, or humor, 6 moving images were placed throughout post. Rather then adding.. pazas?.. these images were quite distracting, sometimes making it quite difficult to read. It honestly feels like the images were added to create the illusion that this commentary is longer and more substantive then it is.

    1. Booooooooooo! This was the basics that I needed and entertaining enough to read. You went on a rant criticizing everything you could, but the article gets the job done.

  3. When was this article written? In 2019, I’m far more likely to receive spam calls from marketers and scammers who I’m sure delight in hearing a personalized greeting – that way they know to keep calling. As soon as I turned my VM to a default greeting, I’ve had far less spam calls. Surely the dangers of introducing yourself to strangers with your number outweigh the people trying to reach you aren’t sure they dialed the right number? And if you can’t dial a number right, even as its on your phone, do I want to work for you?

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