Job Hunting Tips

The revolution that is voicemail! The etiquette of leaving a message with your recruiter.

Posted by Liam
min read

As a career recruiter my phone is at once, both my best friend, and the bane of my existence.  I am the only person among my friends who could set a phone face down on a table and within 5 minutes turn to over to have missed 2 or 3 calls.  It is relentless.  My frustration comes in the fact that while I’m paid to spend time on the phone, often, that time is unproductive because I am sorting through droves of meaningless messages, many which I can’t even reply too.   

There is definitely a difference in being effective or ineffective when leaving a message which can impact the speed at which your request is actioned, how seriously you are taken and even your reputation.

So what’s ineffective?

  • Seems obvious, but not leaving a message at all.  Worse, attempting a barrage of calls in quick succession without leaving a message. This is my pet hate, checking my phone after a meeting to see 10 calls from 1 number within a 20min window.  If I was unavailable to pick up the first and second call there’s a good chance I’m unavailable for call number 10.  Worse still, letting some or all of these go to voice mail only to hang up. 
  • The meaningless message.  This is “Hi, it’s me, please give me a call back”.  Great, who are you, what are you calling me about, and on what number do I call you back?
  • Aborting.  Starting a message, getting distracted, muddled and maybe fumbling and then just giving in and hanging up. 
  • Wrong place, wrong time.  First you should only call if you’re in a good place to speak.  But if you’re going to go through to voice mail (and it’s not critical), try to avoid having the freeway or the fire engine in the background
  • Best friend messages.  Remember the context of your call.  I often have people who are complete strangers to me, making a business related call, and leaving messages like they’re a best friend.  “Hey Buddy….” Be professional or at least keep things in context. 
  • War & Peace messages.  Don’t’ be too long, ever.
  • Speedy Gonzales messages.  Come on, everyone has had a message they’ve had to listen to several times to ascertain all 10 digits. Control your pace and cadence to be as clear as possible, especially when leaving a return number.  
  • Finally, not that it’s an issue at all, really it’s almost a trained response in everyone but always funny – asking questions? “Hi, how are you?”  My voice mail unfortunately does not know the answer

To put all of these points into context as well, you need to remember I’m a recruiter; so on some level I am assessing your ability to communicate effectively - even when it’s a message and we’re not directly speaking with one another.

So what’s effective?

Well take in to account all of the above and you’ll be well on your way to leaving an effective message.  The real key is to be clear and concise. Be succinct. The point is for a return call so I don’t need the full story on my voice mail like an audio book of Game of Thrones.

Keep it simple:

  • Who are you and where are you from (company)?
  • What is the call regarding?
  • How and when can I call you back?


Bottom line, to elicit a speedy response from a recruiter that can jump straight into action because they understand your intent; just leave a good message!