I Recruit, Therefore I Am

The Golden Rule Of Leaving Voicemail


First new message:

Hello Michael, this is Brian Burke calling from Burke’s Brother’s Technical Recruitment Solutions. I was hoping to take a moment of your time to discuss–


Message erased. Next new message:

Hello Lippert,

Pleasure is mine. I have come to you through the LinkedOn and have just received Canadian residence. I am now pleased to move to Canada upon job offer–


Message erased. Next new message:

Hello Michael,

I am calling to follow up on our interview that we had last week. I hadn’t heard anything and as you suggested am giving you a call to see if there has been any update. I am still available and interested in the opportunity. Give me a call when you have a moment. Thanks.

End of new messages. Goodbye.


Of the three messages left this morning, only the third leaves the desire to return the call. Unfortunately the call cannot be returned, because the carrier of the message has not left the proper details required in order to contact them.

That must have been George,” said a colleague upon asking around. “He left me the same message.”

If you want to succeed in any sort of business, let alone finding a job, learning how to leave a proper voicemail is paramount, especially in Canada, where no one likes to answer their phone.


And so, all successful voicemails should leave three things for their recipient:

  1. The nature of the call.

  2. The best way to get back in touch with the messenger.

  3. A desire to call the messenger back.

The first two are simple and go without saying. The third requires confidence and practice.

The first message from the fictional example above is a generic sales messages that is one of many a seasoned Recruiter will receive every day. If the salesperson wants a piece of the Recruiter’s time, they will have to work harder than that.


Not only does the second message fail to leave a desire to return the call (it doesn’t even get the Recruiter’s name right), it provides an immediate reason for the Recruiter to not return the call. Unless the candidate can fill a noted shortage in the Recruiter’s local labour market, the need to engage overseas candidates should be considered a last resort.


The third message leaves the desire to return the call, but does not provide the means. Had George provided his name, his phone number, the best time to reach him and a reminder of the position he interviewed for, the Recruiter could promptly return the call. Now the Recruiter is left shuffling to recall the best way to contact George and what he was calling about in the first place.


This is what George should have said:

Hello Michael,

This is George Svenisen calling. We spoke last Tuesday about the Operations Manager position. You indicated that, had I not heard anything by this time, to follow-up with you. Was wondering if you had received any update. When you have a moment to discuss I can be reached at 856-859-8625 any time today. Thank you.

This is a good voice-mail.

It tells the Recruiter, who is calling (George Svenisen), what they are calling about (Operations Manager position), something specific to jog the Recruiter’s memory (interview last Tuesday), the means to follow-up (856-859-8625) and the messenger’s availability for follow-up (any time today).

In George’s case, the message has reminded the Recruiter to follow-up on the outcome of his interview and provide the appropriate feedback. It is important to note that Recruiters will rarely, if ever, provide feedback unless they have it to provide. If George does not receive an immediate response, he should not give up. Instead, he should attempt to call back in 2 to 3 business days. Anything less than that and, well…

But there is one rule to always remember when leaving a voicemail. It is the Golden Rule of leaving voicemail:

 Include Only Relevant Information


While it pains the heart to hear that the reason you will not be able to speak this afternoon is because you are taking your constipated dog to the vet for an emergency enema (not making this up), this is not relevant. What is relevant is that you will be able to speak again tomorrow at 10:00 am once Charlie’s bowels have been properly relieved.


Nothing turns a Recruiter off of listening to an individual’s voicemail than excuses built around irrelevant information. And so many begin with exactly that:

Hello Michael, sorry to have missed you call, I was out back in the garden and couldn’t hear the phone.

Hello Michael, saw I had a missed call from you. I couldn’t pick up because I was in the basement checking the hot water heater. Haven’t had a warm shower in four days and the wife is starting to get upset.

Hello Michael, I wanted to take your call but was driving my boyfriend’s homework to him. He’s taking an Architecture program and today was the deadline for his big final, which he forgot at home so I had to run it to him. Then I got caught in traffic on the way home because there was construction. Apparently they are building a new high rise by the university. It looks nice, but pricey. Anyway, call me back when you can.


Instead, stick to the basics and get to the point:

Hello Michael, It’s Sandra Smordsdun calling. Sorry to have missed your call. Am looking forward to speaking with you and will try you again this afternoon at 2:30 pm.

This voice-mail is short, sweet and to the point. The Recruiter knows who is calling and knows when they will call again.  If Sandra does not call again at 2:30 pm, The Recruiter can take this as a sign that she is not serious about pursing the job, and move on accordingly.

3c161843a2d29433ed7a68b1b4e69f5a As suggested above, delivering an effective voicemail with confidence is a skill that requires practice and determination.

The best way to practice is to call yourself from an outside line and leave your best voicemail. Now you will have a document to listen to and analyze.

Think to yourself: If I were to receive this voicemail, would I call this person back?

Do you speak clearly when leaving your voicemail? Is the information relevant to your reason for calling? Do you sound sincere and believable? Do you get to the point?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, try again. Do your best to sound positive and upbeat. Like you really are looking forward to speaking with the Recruiter. Like you really anticipate hearing back from them. Like there really is a reason they should call you back.

If you believe it, so will they. And that is when they will start to return your calls.

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Michael Lippert

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