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The Career Coach: The Importance Of Proper Phone Etiquette

In this age of email, many of us have forgotten the fine art of how to use the phone. I'm on the phone all day long and people with poor phone etiquette make my job difficult. Here are some career-enhancing tips for good phone manners

In this age of email, many of us have forgotten the fine art of how to use the phone. I'm on the phone all day long and people with poor phone etiquette make my job difficult. Here are some career-enhancing tips for good phone manners:

TIPS FOR CALLERS:

1. Leaving Messages:

When leaving a message, be succinct but provide enough information so the person receiving the message can take appropriate action.

Speak clearly and leave your full name and full phone number, including the area code. Speak slowly and loud enough and repeat the number so the person can return the call. Never assume the person has your number.

To avoid playing phone tag, leave several alternate times that the person can reach you by phone, if you need to speak in person. If you don't need to speak in person or don't need a return call, say so. But leave a message stating what you need and any action required.

If you expect a return call, please have an operable answering machine. If you are on the phone a lot (like I am) or online a lot (like me) look into getting a voice mail system such as Pacific Bell Message Center ($7.95 per month) which eliminates the need for call waiting and for an answering machine. You'll never miss a call again, even if you have roommates or teenagers using the phone.

2. Making Connections:

When you reach a person by phone, identify yourself with your full name and the reason for your call. Be conscious of the other person's time and get to the point as quickly as possible.

Be pleasant and you will get a lot more accomplished in a quicker amount of time.

If you are seeking information, have a pad and paper ready to take notes.

It is rude to put someone you have called on hold while you take another call. If you must take another call, don't leave the person on hold, but ask if you can call them back again instead.

Do not start a phone conversation with "What's going on?" or "Any news?" Get to the point, don't chat. If you are calling a studio to follow up on a job application, say so. If you are calling to find out if there are modeling jobs available at a studio, say so. Be courteous and remember to keep your conversations brief. If necessary, set a clock next to the phone with a timer on it. Try not to stay on the phone longer than 5 minutes unless you are consulting on a large project and telecommuting.

Do not linger. Lost on how to end the call? "Thanks for your time."

TIPS FOR PHONE CALL RECIPIENTS

1. Don't Forget to Return Your Calls:

Make every attempt to return calls as promptly as possible. I like to use email because I can return calls during off hours and have a written record of the "conversation."

If you find it difficult to get anything done during the day, try not answering the phone at all, but return all calls before the end of the day. It may help to return all calls in a certain time period so that you are not interrupted by the phone during the day.

2. Don't Use "Funny" Answering Machine Messagess:

If you receive professional calls on your answering machine or service, be sure you leave a professional outgoing message identifying yourself and the number called. Cutesy messages are more often irritating than amusing.

Don't hesitate to cut off telephone solicitors quickly. If you feel bad about this, realize that their time is valuable too. Since you are not interested, let them get to the next call as soon as possible.

Thanks for your time.

RESOURCE:

Pacific Bell Message Center, 800 273 7000, $7.95/month. Available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento and other areas in California.

Pamela Thompson is an independent recruiter who lives in Sun Valley, California. She subscribes to the Pacific Bell Message Center.

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