When you’re submitting job applications in an effort to secure work, the likelihood that you’re going to receive phone calls from employers rises with the quantity of applications you’ve got out there. So I find it surprising to find so many job applicants get caught off guard and unprepared for those calls.
One of the things that impresses me every time is when I call a job seeker and find they have a pen and paper handy to write down any important information I want them to note. While I’m not calling them with the date and time of an interview for a job, this is exactly what an employer may do. The act of being prepared ahead of time in just such an event demonstrates to the caller that you are organized and have the ability to anticipate and prepare for just such an occasion.
I suppose the only thing that is worse than not having a pen and paper ready to take down some vital information when an employer calls is when you initiate the call yourself and then have to scramble for a pen and paper. Remember too that if you are carrying the phone with you in a frantic search for these items, every word you say and all the background noises can be heard too. All of these background noises and the length of time it takes you to find these things are individual bits of information that the caller is receiving and processing as they form an impression of you.
Now while some people would rather talk over a telephone than in person with someone from a company they’ve applied to, there are others who just don’t like it at all. Not surprising of course, as we all have our individual preferences. Whether you do or don’t enjoy phone conversations however, if they call you up, you’re going to have to get involved in them.
One of the best things you can do to ensure that the phone call goes well is to take control of the environment and what you have at hand long before the possibility of having an employer calls you. Like so many different aspects of job searching however, there are those who plan in advance and those who wing it on the fly – sometimes failing miserably to come off the way they want, losing their chance at landing the job in the end.
One suggestion I have is to look around your place and pick out the space you are going to feel most comfortable should they call. Let’s suppose it’s not going to be a quick 20 second phone call but a preliminary interview screening call, lasting up to 10 minutes where they’ll ask you a number of questions before determining whether or not to invite you in for a personal conversation. Look around; where would you like to be when that call comes?
For many people, sitting down at a table where you have everything you might need in front of you to bolster your confidence and reference your resume if you need to is a great idea. So knowing this, putting your resume in a folder you can quickly grab is excellent advanced thinking. While you’re at it, a copy of your cover letters is a good idea and to each one of these you can attach the relevant job posting. If you do this ahead of time and keep this folder in the same location at all times, when the phone rings you can rest assured that you’ll know exactly where this vital item is.
Of course if all your information is stored electronically on a laptop or other device, you’ll want it accessible, fully charged and hopefully you’ve organized your documents in such a way that they are easily retrievable. After all, you want to give the caller your full attention and respond accordingly.
Back to your surroundings for a minute. If you live alone you have 100% control over background noise. Pause the music, mute the television etc. before picking up the phone. If you live with others, have a conservation about the importance of incoming calls and get some cooperation from them in respecting your need for quiet during the call. If you have a private room you can retreat to quickly to take such calls the better. Just like practicing a fire drill makes things easier when it goes off for real, practicing when the phone rings is a good idea too, especially with young children.
By the way, as obvious as it is, callers can’t see you unless you’re in a video call. Take advantage of this and make some cheat sheets. Write down 4 or 5 strengths you have that relate to the job. Highlight the job posting requirements. Maybe even go so far as to have prepared 3 or 4 questions you’d like to ask. Having these items at the ready and available to you within seconds of realizing who is calling goes a long way to bolstering your confidence and improving the odds that this confidence will come across on the other end of the phone.
Oh and if you are walking around with your cell phone, know in advance if you typically have dead zones in the house and avoid them.
Being ready in advance for employer’s phone calls reduces or eliminates the anxiety of being caught off guard and unprepared. So relax my friend, you can do this.