Unexpected Ways to Land a New Job Print E-mail

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

When was the last time you reached the person you called, whether it was the first or the tenth time you phoned? Chances are your first “contact” at any point in the hiring process is with voicemail. Be prepared with an effective message that will increase your chances of getting a call back.


Think of an effective voicemail message as a mini-elevator speech. If you are already using that technique for “live” encounters in your network, you have completed 90% of the work to create a good phone message.

Remember that the tone of your voice counts. Although it may sound silly, try to smile while you are leaving the message. Your smile will translate into positive energy in the message you record. If you feel nervous, take a few deep breaths before even picking up the phone to make the call. Nervousness will also travel over the phone lines and leave the impression of a weaker candidate. Speak clearly and repeat your name and contact information at the beginning and the end of the call to give the hiring manager a chance to double-check your number. Finally, set aside time to make this first contact. Don’t make the call from your cell phone on a busy street.


Use the Internet to research the company of interest to you and find the right person and their contact information. You may want to use an initial call as a networking strategy that leads to future job opportunities. If you have questions about certain aspects of a key project the company is launching or a charitable campaign, starting with those interests will increase your chances of getting a call back.  

Your research will also help you identify current openings within the company and ensure you are a good match for those positions. Tailoring the call to available positions increases the likelihood of a call back. However, if your background simply doesn’t qualify you for any of the openings, your call is more likely to leave a negative impression. Careful analysis of the local job market can help you avoid making calls that may actually sabotage your job search.


A clear advantage of phone conversations is the ability to create and use a script if you are concerned about fumbling your words. You can also use this technique if you happen to reach a live person. Modify the scripts below to make them your own. If you are not comfortable with the words you are using, you are more likely to hesitate, make mistakes, and sound inauthentic.  Typically you have 30 seconds to make a good first impression. Use that time to make yourself irresistible to the hiring manager so that you receive a call back. And by all means, pick up the phone when they do call and be ready with another great response. Of course, don’t forget to record a professional outgoing message on your own voicemail.

Sample Scripts

Effective messages include your name, contact information, reason for the call, and a little information about your skills or potential value in the open position. Use your research to personalize your greeting with the name of the person you are calling if possible.

Initial Call

Hello, Ms. Smith. My name is Cal Underwood and my number is (      ). I’m calling to express my interest in the auditor’s position I learned about from the listing in Accountant Weekly Magazine. My previous experience in the State Auditor’s Office makes me uniquely qualified for the complex tasks required. I look forward to speaking with you. Again, this is Cal Underwood and I can be reached at (phone number and/or email address).

Follow-up Call

Hello, Ms. Smith. This is Cal Underwood, phone number (     ). I am calling to follow up regarding the auditing position. At a recent meeting of the local accounting association, I learned there may still be a need. I would hate for you to move forward without hearing about the value I can provide to your organization by identifying inefficiencies, cost-savings, and regulatory compliance issues. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to speaking with you. Again, this is Cal Underwood and I can be reached at (phone number and/or email address).

Persistence, preparation, and confidence do lead to success. Creating opportunities for yourself through the use of an effective voicemail message is just one more tool in your successful job search campaign. Be thoughtful, strategic, and professional to set yourself apart from the crowd!