Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

Sales Recruiter Secret: Why I Hung Up On You Without Leaving A Message

I reached for the phone and began to dial the Job Candidate who sent me his resume; the phone rings several times and then I hear his out-of-office greeting. My heart sinks and I quickly hang up the phone without leaving a message.  I am not wasting my time with what I heard.  What did I hear?

I heard a voice that sounded like no one I would ever want to hire!  I hoped he would not redial my number.  Wow, how could he be the person who sent me this not over the top strong, but decent resume?  There was no hidden gem living on the other side of that phone!

So what happened?  What did I hear?  Well let's first start with the type of candidate I was looking for:


Job Candidate Traits Required:

  • Energetic Sales Person
  • Hard Driving
  • Resume reflects solid tenure and sales accomplishment
  • High Work Ethic to fit into a rough and tumble culture


So what did I actually hear?  I heard what I could not see.  Let me explain.  When you are talking to someone over the phone our senses begin to work overtime.  We can only hear someone.  We are not distracted by the visual appearance of someone sitting before us; we only have the voice and sometimes a resume.  Even without a resume, a voice will tell us if we have a person we would like to interview further for an open position.  This is especially true for outside sales or any type of job opportunity that is representing the company to others in a service role.  

So what did this poor guy do on his phone message that turned me off immediately?  Here is what I heard and how I translated the sound of his voice:


What I heard:

  • The first few sounds/words uttered spelled trouble; "Ah, oh, hello! I am not here now.."  Is he confused?
  • The tone of his voice sounded wobbly or shaky like someone's Great Grandfather.
  • The sentence structure he used was not succinct and to the point.
  • In general his voice and tone sounded like he ran out of gas years ago; not a trace of positive energy anywhere; slow and deliberate.

How I translated what I heard :

  • A tired and worn out sales person
  • Low Energy
  • Maybe one step from the retirement home (yes, even younger people can sound like that to my surprise!)
  • A passive person
  • He sounded sort of dumb

I thought to myself, he actually prerecorded that message at a time when he is looking for a job; he may have even recorded this a few times to get it just right (don't most of us end up doing that before we hit the save button?).  I mean, could he not hear himself?  Could he have possibly listened to that message and said to himself, "Wow!  I sound really sharp and someone I would want to hire if I were the Hiring Manager or Recruiter?"  

Remember that most of these calls that I make are to people who have put their telephone number on their resume actively seeking employment; they are fully aware a recruiter or hiring manager will be using that number to call them for a possible phone interview!

In today's interview world the VOICE is most often the FIRST IMPRESSION of a candidate and the first or second barrier to getting to the face to face interview (it is the resume and/or the voice that we gather our first impressions).  Certainly what the person has to say is important, but don't underestimate the tone of your voice and the emotion that is behind the voice driving the spoken word.   It is often the emotion vs. the words people hear first!  How many times have you heard someone say, "Are you OK today?" Then they may follow with, "You sound sad, you sound tired or (you get the idea)."   So let's look at a few simple ways to improve your voice:

Finding Your Professional Voice

  1. Listen to your voice from your cell phone greeting objectively.
  2. Use the Iphone and record your voice in your normal speaking voice (do not look at your image, just listen).
  3. Get an accurate assessment of how you sound to others; friends, relatives and those that know you.  Tell them to be truthful and that your next job may depend upon it!
  4. It is difficult to change a voice that has eroded due to years of smoking or if you have been unfortunately handed a set of windpipes that sound like scrap-metal being dragged down the street, but there are exercises you can do to improve your voice quality: Toast Masters Has a Free EBook on the exercises one can do.
  5. Just sitting up (posture matters) and being aware of the excitement or the lack thereof in your voice can make a difference.  I call it faking it when you need it!  Here is a basic posture suggestion to improve your vocal sound.
  6. Lastly, make sure you are sounding professional and courteous; no swearing, no burping, no slang, no "um's",  no "I dunno's" or generally sounding like a surf dude!  Keep all that stuff for the beach (don't say stuff either)!

The voice is a powerful instrument that can help or hinder you getting to the face to face interview.  As I tell some of my career clients, "If you can't get improvement in your tone of voice, than at least hire someone (if you are a man, a strong male voice, if you are a woman a firm female voice) to leave a professional message on your out of office service". You don't need to have a beautiful speaking voice to make a great impression, you just need one that sounds like someone we would want to hire!  

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Tags: interviewing skills, phone interview skills


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Started by Devin Hanson in Ask Linda Jun 14, 2020. 0 Replies


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