How Voicemail Greetings and Email Addresses Affect Your Job Search

by Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Administrative Assistant for the College team

When looking for a job we all know that first impressions and professionalism are very important. However, many people often overlook the image they are portraying to potential employers when it comes to their voicemail greetings and email addresses.

First, let’s discuss the power of a professional email address. Your email address is always listed on your resume as an avenue to contact you. Employers are going to take you more seriously and think of you in a much more professional manner if you list a professional email versus let’s say, Let’s face it, it’s fun to have a silly email address but that is not what employers are looking for. Instead you should use an email that incorporates the name you use professionally or even your Penn email.

Now that your resume (and professional email address) has passed the screening and impressed the recruiter or hiring manager, let’s make sure your voicemail will represent you in the best way possible. Unless you are expecting a call from a number that you know, most people just let the call go to voicemail. That is okay, however, I find that many people fail to set up their voicemail in the first place. If this is the case, how is an employer going to reach you to let you know they are interested? There are many talented candidates vying for the same spots so you wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity just because you hadn’t set up your voicemail, or your voicemail is full. Many people also leave the generic robot message that the phone comes with. Example: “You have reached 123-456-7891. Leave your message at the tone.” While this is fine, it is always nice to put some personal touch to your message. That being said, your “personal touch” should be professional. Do not rap your voicemail message to the tune of your favorite Jay Z song or make a haiku. While this may be funny and entertaining to your friends and family, a potential employer would hear that and think twice about even picking up the phone in the first place. Remember, it is important to convey a professional tone to potential employers so just record a concise message saying who they reached and that you will get back to them as soon as possible.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

What’s in a name?

by J. Michael DeAngelis

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene ii.

When I first left college and moved out on my own, I shared a house with four other people just outside New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel.  Though it wasn’t that long ago – these were the days before everyone had a cellphone and we still relied on a land line house phone for the majority of our calls.

We had several phones – one downstairs, one in the hall and one in my bedroom.  Only one person had a room downstairs, so that phone went mostly unused.  The phone in the hall had a terrible habit of puling the jack out of the wall every time you picked it  up, so that phone mostly went unused.  That meant almost everyone used the phone in my room all the time…and the phone rang a lot.

One morning, I was enjoying a rare day off of work and trying to take full advantage of sleeping in.  The house was empty and I was in slumberland when…RING.  RING.  RING. RING.  Ugh.  I groggily reached for the phone.  A very chipper woman was on the other end.

Voice: Hello!  May I speak with Pete please?

Me: I don’t think he’s home at the moment.  Can I take a message?

Voice: This is his boss, I just wanted to run some new assignments by him.  It’s rather lengthy.  Maybe I’ll just e-mail him…do you have his e-mail address?

Ooooh.  This was a tougher question than it seemed.  I DID have Pete’s e-mail address, but I dared not say it.  You see, Pete had a fairly unusual e-mail address, which was taken from the lyric of a song he wrote – a sort of in joke between his friends and fans of his band.  I wanted to make sure Pete got his assignment, but I also didn’t want to cost him his job if his boss took offense at his e-mail address.   I decided to take a chance.

Me: Well, I do have it, but it’s odd.  His e-mail is SATANandTHEBOY@hotmai…”

I was cut off by riotous laughter.

Voice: That’s hysterical.  And that’s so Pete.

Image courtesy of Frankieb via Flickr

Crisis adverted.  Pete got his assignment and his boss got a good laugh.  Still, it was close.  What if his boss had been a very religious person?  Or just didn’t understand why someone would have the word Satan in their e-mail address – after all, it’s probably not the most professional sounding.   That night, Pete informed me that he did, in fact, have a business e-mail that was just his name  – simple, clear and no room for misinterpretation.  I promised him I would only give that one out to potential employers in the future.

Flashforward to the present and my job in Career Services.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve retold the story of Pete and his e-mail to students who use their personal e-mail accounts on their resumes and job correspondents.

Imagine yourself as an employer.  How would you feel if you got job applications from email handles such as “LAXGurl86,” “QTPie,” “PennDrinker”, “Partytime” or “KittenLover89”?  Exaggerations, obviously, but not that far off from actual addresses that I’ve seen on resumes, cover letters or electronic correspondence.

Think before you send.  Remember how much time you’ve put into making your job application look professional.  Think about how hard you’ve proof read your resume and cover letter.  An employer is going to take EVERYTHING you submit to them into account – including your e-mail address.  The same goes for what you name any documents you attach.  Don’t apply to Coca-Cola with an attachment called “Pepsi Resume.doc”!

Keep things simple.  Use your Penn e-mail address or, if you’re using a personal account, a simple, professional account such that uses your name (eg.  Be remembered by your name and for your outstanding resume – not your novelty e-mail address.  Though Pete’s story has a happy ending – it was a lucky one.  Not every employer is going to have a sense of humor.

Satan and the Boy

Don’t get your lines crossed!

Dr. Joseph Barber

Hello, I love you!”

You don’t expect to receive that kind of e-mail message from anyone other than your significant other or family member.  You might be surprised to hear, then, that several of the counselors at Career Services have stories about receiving this kind of e-mail from students who they have previously advised, or sent program/workshop information to.

There is an explanation. The “hello, I love you!” messages are usually followed by this sort of message:

Dear Dr. Barber, I am very, very sorry that you received that last e-mail. Please ignore it. My phone was taken by my friend/roommate/drunken colleague and they sent out prank messages to my contacts. I apologize for the inconvenience.”

Of course, that’s only if the owner of the phone realizes that messages have been sent out on their phone by their “friends”. Who knows what mischief they are up to with your phone while you are off in the bathroom? At Career Services, we are used to receiving the odd message that has been sent by mistake. After any program announcement that I send out by e-mail to our listservs, I usually get one message along the lines of:

Hey, I’m at the library, let’s do lunch. Are you done with classes yet? See ya!”

I let the sender know that they sent their message to the wrong person – no harm done. But what if your mischievous friends, or a slip of your finger, mean that wrong messages get sent to that prospective employer you have been e-mailing? How are they going to react to messages where you seem to be telling them that you love them (or worse)? Well, probably not well. They are unlikely to e-mail you back and let you know that you sent them a wrong message, and they might be much less forgiving than we are when they receive your hastily sent apology e-mail. First impressions always count, and it is hard to convince someone that you are well-organized and professional if you cannot keep track of your phone or e-mail.

Employers receive far more applicants than they have jobs available, and the job of whittling down 200 applicants to the top 10 is a tough one. Don’t make it easy for them to discard you – keep your phone and your e-mail secure, double check your e-mail recipient list before you send, and don’t drink and phone/e-mail/text (and especially not when driving).

Mistakes with e-mails can happen – it’s not the end of the world when they do, but it should be something that you take care to avoid whenever possible. In a somewhat creepy fashion, Mayor Nutter appears on my TV at night and asks: “Do you know where your children are?”. You should heed the mayor’s advice and always think about the location of your phone in a similar way.