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Job Hunting

Still Unemployed? Have You Checked Your Phone Skills?


Telephone (Photo credit: jennalanger)

I answer phone calls every day: some from coworkers making referrals for jobseekers, some from partner agencies asking me for help with an upcoming job fair or workshop, some from employers looking for assistance finding the right person for the job they’re marketing. Most of the time, however, my calls come from jobseekers—and I can almost always tell just from what I hear on the phone.
Often a person’s voice on the telephone is the first impression that person makes with an employer or recruiter. Even if a phone call comes in response to a powerful resume, the employer might be dismayed to hear an unprofessional demeanor on the other end of the line when calling for a job interview.
Further, as modes of communication increasingly include email, text messaging and the like, telephone conversations are falling by the wayside. As my piano teacher used to tell me, if you don’t use it you lose it—even basic skills like talking on the phone!
Here are some tips to keep you sounding professional on the telephone, according to eHow.com:
1. Voice Modulation & Greeting
Speaking clearly and concisely with a well-modulated voice helps the listener and encourages response. You can practice speaking with intonation and inflection so that your voice sounds almost musical. Speaking in a monotone is boring to the listener and he will stop listening. When making calls, always announce yourself, who you are, where you are from and why you are calling. When answering a call, greet the caller with professionalism and friendliness.
2. Listening
Listening skills are a vital part of communication. After you have expressed the reason for calling, listen carefully to the answer. People tend to start thinking about their response before they have listened to everything the other person has to say. Really listen so you can answer positively. If you are answering a call, listen attentively to the query to ensure you respond appropriately.
3. Politeness
Never eat while talking on the phone. It’s rude and muffles what you are saying. Always be polite and calm, no matter the mood of the other party. If you are cold-calling, never be too familiar; always be respectful. Repeat anything that is agreed to ensure understanding by both parties. Confirm understanding of any problem clearly.
4. Smile While You Dial
When you smile, it reflects in your voice. If you are having a bad day, it will sound much worse over the phone. Not only will smiling make you sound happy, you will come across as cheerful on the phone. A smiling voice encourages a good response from the listener.
To this I would add one more:
5. Get to the Point
If you are making a professional phone call, know what you’re going to say and say it as soon as possible. Droning on for 5 minutes loses the listener’s interest rapidly. I cannot count the number of times I’ve answered the phone and gotten an earful of “ummmm….”! I find that highly annoying—and distracting as well.

You never know—that professionalism on the telephone might be what makes the difference in your job search.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


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