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Leave Great Voicemails for Potential Candidates


The past 30 years has seen a steep drop off in people actually answering the phone.  So don’t expect when you call someone the first time that they will pick up, and don’t expect that they will call you back. Face the reality that everyone is annoyed by voicemail. Anyone answering the phone or calling back on your first message should be considered an unexpected bonus.


If you go into calls with the mindset that you’re probably not getting a call back, you can keep the mental energy to make lots of calls. And being an effective recruiter does, indeed, require a LOT of calls.

So why make calls at all?

The average number of points of contact needed to connect with a potential candidate is eight. A lot of recruiters give up long before effort number eight. Many recruiters will contact a candidate a maximum of four times then stop trying. If you’re one of those recruiters, you’re leaving candidates – and money – on the table. If most recruiters give up after effort four, the recruiters who are not afraid to complete eight points of contact are going to get the candidate.

However, the timing of your eight points of contact is important; shoot for two points of contact a week. If you try to reach a candidate eight times in a single week, you’ll annoy them and decrease the likelihood of engaging them.

Voicemail rules

  • Keep your voicemails short and concise. We already know people don’t like voicemails, so why make them longer?
  • Use a script. Practice it until it doesn’t sound like you’re reading. Add pauses in your script.
  • Leave yourself voicemails and critique yourself.
  • Have a mirror on your desk all the time. Facial expressions come through on the phone. People can hear your smiling, so be aware of what your face is doing while you’re on the phone.
  • Listen to your candidate’s outbound message for clues. What can you tell about your candidate’s personality and style based on their message? Do they talk slowly? Do they have excitement in their voice? Try to mimic their style in the message you leave.
  • Always lead with the person’s name. Consider even dropping the salutation and just start with the name. This grabs attention from the very first moment.
  • When you say your own name, slow down. Humans have a habit of saying their name too fast. Slow down and pronounce your first and last name deliberately, don’t let your first and last names flow together. Consider even dropping your last name and just saying your first name and company on the first voicemail.
  • If you make a mistake on your voicemail, own it and keep going. People actually find it endearing and it can help build your credibility and relatability.
  • Don’t repeat your name and phone number twice. This is a key indicator that you’re trying to sell them something.

The 6 rules of effective voicemails:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Address the elephant in the room- You’re a recruiter, they get calls from recruiters all the time. Put it out there.
  3. Differentiate yourself
  4. Tell them what you do
  5. Make it all about them
  6. Leave a call to action

The content from this blog post came from a People2.0 webinar Phone Techniques for Recruiters: How to Leave Voicemail That Will Get You Called Back! with recruiting trainer experts Tricia Tamkin and Jason Thibeault. For more information on the topic, including an expanded version of the “6 Rules” and specific voicemail scripts to follow, please view the webinar recording in our content library.

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