It’s not rocket science -- potential employers and everyone else will judge you based on anything you offer them.
A typo on your resume? You’re careless.
Unkempt appearance? You’re a slob.
Unprofessional phone greeting? You’re unprofessional!
If you use your phone number for business or a job hunt, your outgoing phone message is an important, but overlooked piece of your professional image. Since no one wants to hire or work with someone who is unprofessional, take the time to make this very easy check of your outgoing phone greeting.
Does it contain music?
Are there children's voices?
Is there background noise?
Does it make an effort at humor? Is it “cute?”
Is it political? Religious?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, stop everything you are doing -- change it now!
Record a basic, easy-to-hear greeting: “Hello, you have reached April Showers. Please leave a message and I will return your call. Thank you.”
You use the family number for business? Your greeting: "Hello, you have reached the Shower Family. Please leave a message and we will return your call."
Listen to the greeting. Is it garbled? Did you rush it, as if you were escaping a fire but wanted to record the message first? Re-do it! Ask your hard-of-hearing neighbor to call and listen. Does he understand what you said? If so, you are golden!
Now, don’t get me started on kids, family members, or roomates who answer the phone and don’t relay messages. Or who tell the caller that you’re stuck under the car trying to rescue the cat. Or in the bathroom, and you won’t be out for a LONG time.
Try to give out a number that only you or a trusted adult will answer. Usually, that is a mobile number. Many of us answer our phones whenever they ring -- even when we are driving, in a mob of screaming baseball fans or supervising a 2-year-old's temper tantrum.
Be aware that trying to scream, “I can’t HEAR you” or cursing at the driver who just cut you off as you are picking up your phone does not offer the professional impression you want to relay.
If you are job hunting, be aware that any time the phone rings, it might be your dream job on the line. You're an entrepreneur? Every call could be your next big investor. If you’re in a bad or loud spot -- let it go to voice mail (to your nice, clear, professional greeting), listen to the message, and call back as soon as possible. You (and the caller) will be glad you did.