How You Can Make ‘Voice Mail’ Work FOR You!

Skip Freeman


Skip Freeman

One of the most frustrating, most pervasive systems virtually every business employs today is the ubiquitous “voice mail” system. It has literally become the contemporary equivalent of the traditional real-life “gate-keeper.” Its primary purpose is not to implement better communications; it’s primary purpose is to keep “outsiders” at bay! (Unless, of course, the business you are calling is trying to sell you something!)

Nonetheless, with all its warts and multitudes of detractors, I believe it is safe to say that voice mail is here to stay, so we will just have to learn to deal with it. As a matter of fact (and I am confident that this won’t come as a shock to many of you reading this!), eight out of ten calls to a business today will automatically go to “voice mail.”

So, what does this mean for you when you are telephone prospecting? Certainly, it makes prospecting more difficult and more challenging. It should not, however, dissuade you from continuing to do the all-important telephone prospecting during your job search.

I’m not a big fan of leaving voice mail messages when telephone prospecting because you actually want to talk to the person. If you don’t leave a voice mail message, you can still keep calling back. You are in control. Once you leave a message, you have put the recipient in control. Still, I am a realist and recognize that, sometimes at least, you may feel that you simply have to leave a voice mail message, if you are ever to have a chance to connect with the “real” person you’re trying to reach.

Assuming, then, that you do decide to leave a voice mail message, one of the approaches I have found that results in a call back about half the time is called the “advice” or “project” message. Here is the suggested script for such a message:

“Bob, this is Skip Freeman. My phone number is 678-123-4567. I am working on a project that I would really like to get your opinion and advice on. I will be in my office all day today, April 27th. Again, Skip Freeman. 678-123-4567.”

Another message that often works is the “referral” message:

“Bob, this is Skip Freeman. My phone number is 678-123-4567. Jim Rogers suggested that you and I should visit soon. I will be in the office all day today, April 27th. Again, Skip Freeman, 678-123-4567.”

Do these approaches work all of the time, on virtually every hiring manager? Of course not. Nothing works every time, all the time. But they do work often enough to at least consider using them.

Some key considerations to keep in mind if you do decide to leave voice mail messages during your telephone prospecting:

• Keep your message short and simple.
• Leave your name and telephone number at the beginning and end of the message.
• Clearly state the purpose of your call without “giving everything away”!
• Never leave more that THREE voice mails for any hiring manager. (Leaving more doesn’t make you look “aggressive” and assertive,” it makes you look like a pest!)

Obviously, there is nothing “magic” in these approaches to leaving voice mail messages when you must. But if you choose to leave a rambling, nonsensical voice mail message, you may as well not even waste your time. To be sure, you shouldn’t reasonably expect any response from a hiring manager if you do leave such voice mail messages.


Skip Freeman, professional “headhunter” and author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

Visit or contact Skip at his book website,

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