One of my biggest pet peeves is bad voicemail messages. I’m not when my distaste for voicemails started, but it has really ramped up in the past few years.
Maybe it’s because we’ve started using e-mail and text messaging so much. Our standards for leaving a voicemail may have been forgotten.
But, your ability to leave a great voicemail will still impact whether or not you’ll get a callback. Leave a bad message and the receiver will delete it. This could impact your job search, you current role, and even personal relationships.
Here are a few tips for leaving an awesome voicemail message:
- Be brief – The worst kind of voicemail you can leave is one that’s too long. Practice leaving short, concise messages that get to the point quickly. I prefer to keep mine at twenty seconds or less. If you’re leaving two-minute messages, there’s a good they aren’t being listened to all the way through.
- Leave your full name – So often, I hear voicemails similar to, “Hey! This is Jack. Give me a call back.” There are many common first names. Leave both your first and your last name, so the receiver can identify you. Even if your name is unique, the person you’re calling may need to look you up to remember who you are or how you’re connected. Unless you’re calling your grandma, don’t assume the other person will know who you are by just your first name.
- Leave your phone number – This one is becoming a bigger issue every day. Have you ever forwarded your desk phone to your cell phone? Have you ever used a Google Voice line? In both of these scenarios, there’s a chance the receiver’s caller ID won’t pick up your phone number. I know it may sound crazy, but it’s true. In fact, I run into this issue with my own business line. Because of my setup, if a client calls me, I won’t see their phone number. I won’t get into the setup details of why I’m doing it this way, but suffice it to say, I get lots of voicemails with no phone number in them. When you don’t leave your phone number, you’re forcing the receiver to do research to figure out how to get back in touch with you. It greatly reduces the likelihood that they’ll call you back.
- Explain why you’re calling (briefly) – Help out the person you’re calling. Let them know why you’re calling, and be straight forward. This morning, I received a general message to the effect of, “Angela, this is Jill. We spoke last year and I’m calling to reconnect.” I searched everywhere for Jill and couldn’t find her in my records or online. I was honestly hesitant to call her back at all. When I did, she wanted to sell me something. It was completely disappointing that Jill didn’t leave her reason for calling in the first place.
- Look for patterns – Let’s be honest. With the changes in technology over the past twenty years, different people communicate differently. Certain age ranges seem more likely to want to text over calling, for example. Also, different kinds of jobs make someone more or less able to take calls in the middle of the day. If you notice that a person responds better to e-mails, you may want to skip the phone and go straight for e-mail. And, if you really need to get in touch with them, consider setting up a time to talk via e-mail. For me, this kind of communication is especially effective. Given that I’m in client meetings all day, it’s rare that I’m able to pick up the phone when it rings. I know this is also true for many other people.
Those are my five tips for more effective voicemail messages. Give these a try and your colleagues will thank you. And even better, they’ll call you back!
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