Business Phone Etiquette for Job Search Success

There are many business etiquette tips to follow when searching for a new job. Here's the first thing to remember while you're job hunting: Don't answer the phone.

It's counterintuitive, especially since most of the good news that you get during a search comes by phone. Snail mail is for rejection letters. Responses to your inquiries may come by e-mail, but managers who just picked your resume out of a pile of dozens or hundreds don't usually send you an e-mail asking you to interview. They call.

That's why your handling of phone calls is worth planning in advance. Here are some suggestions for safe calling.

Outbound Calls
Before you get those calls that you send to your answering machine, you may have to make some.

You see ads that say, "No phone calls, please." You get little cards or auto-response e-mails saying, "We'll let you know if we wish to schedule an interview. Please don't call." Then you hear that HR types spend 30 seconds on each resume and look for ways to reject as many as possible, and you're afraid that a phone call will cause them to dig yours out of the stack and trash it.

Chances are it won't, but I don't want to tell you that and risk being sued when you don't get an interview. Besides, those instructions usually come from large HR departments that don't have much influence over the hiring process. So don't call them. Call the hiring manager instead, if you can figure out who it is. That's sometimes pretty easy: If you're looking for a job as a Web designer, call the receptionist and ask for the name of the director of Web design. It's a good idea whenever you apply to a large company, because that person is more likely to notice your resume if you've taken the trouble to call.

After the interview, assuming that you've asked how long the decision-making process is likely to take, it never hurts to call or e-mail a day or two after the estimated D-Day. E-mail is less obtrusive, but you may never know whether anyone read it. If you feel confident calling the hiring manager, give it a shot. Calling the HR rep is probably not worthwhile, since in-house training for many HR people includes Stonewalling 101. But definitely do something. It'll show that you care.

Inbound Calls
About not answering the phone: The reason is that you want to keep control. If you send out lots of resumes, you may forget when you get a call saying, "Hi, this is Joe Brown from Diamond," whether Diamond is a jewelry chain or a sports-management firm. While you're trying to figure it out, you probably won't greet Joe with the proper enthusiasm, and he may decide to go on to the next name on his list.

Or you've been waiting and waiting to hear from Warrington Widgets about your dream job. You get the call, and in the middle of it your four-year-old (if you're at home) or your boss (if you're at work) begins screaming because he's lost something and you're the only person who can find it. It's much safer to let the call go to the answering machine or voicemail, and to return it at a time and place of your choosing.

How do you arrange this? The best way is to use your cell phone. If you don't have one, now is the time to get one. Consult your local office supply or electronics store about calling plans. Just make sure to get voicemail. Then put the cell number on your resume instead of your home number, not mentioning that it's a cell. Turn the phone off, put it in your pocket, and check in every so often for calls. It's the same principle as setting up an e-mail account just for job hunting, which is a good idea too-and, unlike cell phones, free.

This won't work if you're a compulsive cell phone user, give everyone you know your number and feel unloved if 10 minutes go by when nobody calls. You'll have to exert uncommon discipline, get another wireless number (a bit dramatic) or use your home phone. If you have voicemail, you're all set. If you rely on call waiting and an answering machine, you have to make sure that you can access it from anywhere, that no one in your family is going to hang on the phone during the day and that the phone isn't used during the day for dial-up access to the Internet. If it is, you have to do something about it because if there's one thing that makes managers crazy, it's a busy signal. You have three choices: Get broadband access, get a second line or get voicemail for the duration of your job search. Broadband is better, and you'll love it once you have it, but voicemail is probably cheaper.

You don't want people calling you at work. No control at all. You can use your work number for specific time-critical things, like having the headhunter call you after she sets up an appointment. The cell phone's better, of course. You want to wait to talk to a prospective new employer until you can get some coffee, close the door and relax.

There aren't too many things about the job hunting process that are within your control. At least you can manage your phone calls. Isn't that a good feeling?

Article provided by Homesteader

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