Sending and receiving phone messages sounds like it would be common sense. However, many recruiters will tell you even seasoned professionals often lack this basic skill. You would hate to lose an opportunity due to a simple mistake, so follow these best practices so you'll make a professional impression any time you use the phone.
Make sure your phone message is personal and professional. Skip the automatic robot voice and record the message yourself. Speak clearly and concisely. Some people have their spouses or kids record the message. This may seem endearing, but it's not what a prospective hiring manager wants to hear, so just do it yourself.
If expecting a call from a networking contact, HR, or that sought-after hiring manager, make sure you have a pen nearby to take down phone numbers, addresses, and other information, especially if people are responding to your request to see them. It's sure to annoy a recruiter who is responding to an applicant’s message only to have the applicant ask for an email with the information because they don't have a pen nearby. Not only will you come across as disorganized, you likely won't get the email you requested.
If leaving a message for someone, give your phone number at the very beginning of the message following your name, and then again at the end of the message. People often leave very long, overly detailed messages, and then at the end zip through their phone number at twice the speed of light. Any career coach, hiring manager, or HR person will tell you that if they cannot make out your phone number after the first, possibly second try, your message is history!
Remember, every time you communicate with a hiring contact, it's another opportunity to either impress or appall them. With thoughtful interactions on both the receiving and sending end of the phone, you'll ensure you leave a lasting, positive impression.