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How to Handle Voicemail for a Resume Follow-Up

When you phone a potential employer to follow up on your resume, you may be diverted to the manager's voicemail. If leaving a voicemail message becomes your only option, you should make the message count. This will help ensure that you'll get a chance at actually speaking to the contact.

Tips for dealing with voicemail

When you can’t break through voicemail, leave a short message showing upbeat interest, not desperation — and a time when you will call back.

My name is Maureen Farmer, and I’m calling you because I’ve successfully outgrown my job, and you have a reputation for running a progressive department. I think you have my resume. If you like what you see, can we talk? I’ll call you tomorrow morning at 11:30 to set a convenient time.

Pronounce your name clearly and say your telephone number at a moderate pace. Give the hiring manager a chance to write it down without replaying the message.

How often should you call? Some job search experts suggest calling every five to ten days. But busy employers insist that — unless you’re in sales or another field requiring a demonstration of persistence — after you’re certain your resume was received, call one to two weeks later, and then no more than once every three to four weeks.

Following up by phone is your most effective tool, but you can, from time to time, substitute contacts by sending notes or e-mail with additional facts about your qualifications, ideas to solve a problem you know the company is facing, a news clipping of mutual interest, or just an expression of our continuing interest in working for the company and the manager.

Avoid asking the employer to call you back

Avoid asking that employers call you back. Even if you leave your contact information, the chances of your getting a return call are slim to none. Instead, leave a very brief message indicating that you'll call again at a specific time. You may have to make a dozen calls before connecting, each time again giving a time frame for your next call. The trick is to

  • Set a specific time and keep your word, which makes you look like a reliable person.

  • Use phrases that prevent the target from feeling “guilty” for missing your call after call. (“Please don’t feel bad about missing my call. Afternoons may be better for you . . .”)

Find a hook (an enticing bit of information about your accomplishments) for each time you call back. In the following examples, the hook is in italics:

  • Monday: Sorry I missed you; I'll try again Wednesday afternoon. I'm hoping to meet and go into detail about my sales channel strategy, which could work very well for you.

  • Wednesday: Too bad we missed connecting today. I'll get back to you tomorrow to explain how I worked the lost-customer database and reclaimed 38 percent of them as paying customers. Until tomorrow, then . . .

  • Thursday: You undoubtedly have your plate full, which is why you need to meet with me — I’m persistent and I follow through. I'll get back with you next week. I want to help.

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