Telephone etiquette is not a skill usually listed on a job description; however, a poor telephone manner is likely to discount you from a candidate shortlist. Clear speech and respect for the person to whom the call is addressed reflects a caller who is polished, intelligent, and worthy of consideration as an employee.
Try recording yourself to find out how you sound to others. Your tone of voice is important as you do not have the benefit of facial expressions or body language. Smiling when you are speaking adds a cheerful tenor. Matt Warzel of Business Insider offers some basic etiquette rules to follow when placing career-related telephone calls.
- Prepare a well-phrased voicemail message and rehearse what you will say to the actual person in case they are not available and you reach their voicemail. When leaving a message, provide your name and number, slowly, at the beginning and end of the message. Spell your last name. Ask them to call you “at their convenience” to show respect for their time.
- When you reach the individual, introduce yourself and give a brief reason for your call. Don’t assume that they will know or remember you. Ask the person if it is a convenient time or if they would prefer that you call back. If possible, schedule an in-person meeting rather than continuing the conversation on the telephone. If the caller is reluctant, then continue the discussion over the phone.
- Be aware of the need to spell out names, addresses, and other information that may be delivered. In some cases, it is better to offer to send an email so that the person has a record of the conversation and the correct spellings.
Virginia Techoffers some useful tips concerning telephone etiquette on its careers website. The university emphasizes the need to confirm any agreement, or any scheduled meetings, with a follow-up email to provide a record for each person.
According to Warzel, Friday afternoon is usually a good time to reach people who are often in the office tying up loose ends before the weekend.
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