Dedicated toward helping job-seekers take charge of their job search, build confidence, and advance their careers.

One of the newest and most popular mobile phone features involves selecting a song for your callers to listen to when they call your cell phone replacing the standard ringing sound. Fun? Can be. Professional? Never.

“Answer Tones” or “Greet Me” tones can and have negatively impacted a job candidate’s opportunity to interview for several reasons. When a recruiter attempts to make contact with an applicant, he or she does not want to be entertained. He is expecting a professional response to his call or be greeted with a voice mail message containing a proper introduction, inviting the caller to leave a message and respond at her earliest convenience. Period. Any extras are just too much and are not necessary.

After conversing with fellow employers at a career event last month, one of the attending hiring managers shared his opinion on the answer tone feature and stated that if he was to hear an answer tone other than the standard “ring” when contacting a job candidate, he would immediately hang up. When I asked him why he felt that way, he told me that recruiters and hiring managers are not looking to be entertained by the candidate, and this form of mobile entertainment is completely unprofessional and unnecessary as the recruiter may not essentially share your taste in music. This was consistent amongst most of the attending employers.

My own experience involved calling a job candidate for an open position, and while attempting to contact this person to schedule an interview, was made to listen to an answer tone that was nothing short of crude and inappropriate. I immediately hung up. Remember, the interview starts the minute the recruiter makes contact with a candidate – by phone or otherwise.

In light of my recent experience and employer findings, I highly discourage job seekers to use this feature during their job search. Here are a few tips for mobile phone etiquette while actively job seeking:

  1. Answer your phone ONLY when you are available to speak. Recruiters get easily irritated when a job candidate asks that they return their call at another time OR takes the call when several distractions can be heard in the background. If you are unavailable, let the caller go to voice mail, have a pen and paper readily available, and return the call in a quiet place where there are no interruptions for the duration of your conversation.

  2. Ensure your voice mail is professional. Include your name so callers can confirm that they have reached the correct person, and create a professional greeting advising callers that you are unavailable and will respond to their message as soon as you are able to do so. Sometimes typing your voice mail message out can help you record your note a bit smoother.  Avoid using a standard greeting telling the caller that the party being reached is unavailable. In most cases, recruiters will not leave a message and will absolutely not attempt to make another phone call.

  3. Call the recruiter back within 24 hours even if you may not be interested in the position being offered. It is common courtesy to do so.

  4. Express confidence and excitement when speaking with the recruiter. If you don’t sound genuinely excited to receive a call from a recruiter, chances are she will assume you are not interested in the position and will continue to seek out other candidates.

  5. Follow given directions. If a recruiter leaves you a message with instructions, whether it is a preferred time to return his call or to send an email to a specific individual with requested details in the subject line, follow them! If you demonstrate that you are unable to follow simple directions, you have just demonstrated your lack of attention to detail and inability to effectively follow directions.

When job searching, remember that everything you do (or don’t do) is evaluated and taken into consideration by a potential employer.

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