Put your best voice forward, recorded or otherwise.
While there are certainly more means of professional communication these days than there were thirty years ago, the importance of proper phone conduct cannot be overstated. Whether you’re seeking out an interview or are corresponding with someone in another office, you need to be able to project an air of professionalism with your voice alone. But what, then, are you supposed to do in the event you miss a call? Well, you’re going to have to come up with a voicemail message that carries the same professional energy.
Whether you have a dedicated business line or are just expecting an important call, you should set your outgoing message to convey your professionalism and courtesy. First and foremost, make sure to identify yourself. Chances are good, if this is a business line, that the person calling you doesn’t know what you sound like. State your name and affiliation clearly so they know they dialed the right number. You should also offer a quick reassurance of the effort they made to call you, such as “sorry I missed your call” or “thank you for calling.” Phone tag is an absolutely awful process, so make sure they know you value their time and would’ve taken their call if you could.
Next, offer some additional steps. You don’t need to say “leave your name and number,” as that’s a given, but if you have any additional avenues of contact like an email address or an assistant, offer those to facilitate communication. If you have an idea of when you’ll be back at your desk and ready to take a call, it wouldn’t hurt to mention that as well. This goes double in the event you’re taking a vacation. Give the precise date that you’ll be back to work so you don’t leave them in limbo.
Finally, above all else, remember the golden rule: keep it short. In the endless purgatory of phone tag, chances are good a caller is going to call more than once, so don’t force them to listen to five minutes of soft rock every time, lest they lose patience with you.