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Ask Lawrence: How does your voicemail service cost you work?

26 Sep 12:00 By Lawrence Akers

Lawrence Akers Voicemail

I’ve heard it be proposed that there have been more technological changes over the past decade than there has been the one hundred years prior. While I have no idea who came up with this quote or what research they had done to determine if it was actually true or not, I tend to believe that there is something accurate about this. Even over the 14 years that I’ve been working in the creative recruitment space, I’ve seen technology change fast and frequently.

I’ve tended to always focus on freelance temporary assignments as a creative recruiter. There is something about the fast pace of them and that rush as you get towards a deadline that just keeps me on my toes and is something that I actually enjoy. Sure, it can have it’s stressful moments when things don’t feel like they’re going to right way but, on the whole, there is an element of aiming to get a personal best at how quickly and accurately I can fill the role.

What’s one of the biggest challenges for me in filling these roles? Being able to get in touch with suitable people.

It’s a recognised trend that people are talking less and texting more.  People tend to absolutely hate voicemail and we are already experiencing a decline in it’s use. The reality is, and this is me owning ‘it’, it might be increasingly grumpy old Generation X like me that find it is useful when we want to convey a little more information than what texting might allow or be reasonable to do. I mean, I have occasional moments that I affectionately refer to as ‘fat finger syndrome’ where my fingers seem to collide into each other as I try to type out a message. Trust me, I’m no slow typer however I find it so much easier to quickly say what I have to say than to constantly type the message out.

Maybe I’m alone in this however I tend to think that most recruiters out there might agree with me here; getting a 10 second voicemail to text service or, worse, one that tells you that the person you’re calling is currently busy so ‘perhaps’ try sending an email or calling back later will generally only cause angst and stress when we want to know if the person is available and if they might be interested.

The other problem is when someone is on the job and become increasingly difficult to get hold of. When a time sheet is pressing or a client is wondering where things are at, being able to contact someone who is working for you is, as you would imagine, incredibly useful.  

This underlies the biggest problem here; ineffective communication. In my own experience, the freelances who find that sweet spot between letting us know what is happening for them and their availability versus the freelancers who contact us several times a week / day / hour to ask what is happening are the ones that will often get the most work as well as have assignments that go according to plan.  

I shouldn’t limit this to just freelancers as you can correctly assume that clients are often equally as guilty of this trend as anyone else. While we have to assume that people are busy and may not always have the time to drop everything to return our calls, it is often the clients who don’t call you back at all that become the ones who end up having the occasional assignment that doesn’t meet their expectations.

I'm not just the only one who has noticed it or have a concern about this. The Society for Human Resource Management highlighted that, "a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees."

Communication is key here and being willing to work collaboratively and openly is vital to that communication being successful. Now, I can already feel the swarm of comments approaching from people saying, ‘hold it right there - I’ve left messages for recruiters before and NOT heard back from them too’, and you would be absolutely right. Recruiters can sometimes be the most guilty of all, so (again, owning ‘it’), I’m aware that this may come across as being contradictory or even hypocritical. Ultimately, if you have a recruitment consultant that is ‘working for you’ who constantly does not return calls or apologise when they don’t return a call in a sufficient time, then you may need to look at if they’re the right recruitment consultant for you.

A little bit of professional respect and courtesy goes along way, right?

So, freelancers of Australia, hear my cry! I know you hate voicemail. Research shows me most younger people do and I know that there will come a time where our phones may no longer be used to make phone calls any more. However, if you insist on using a service that takes 10 seconds of someones message and then, hopefully, transcribes it into something that is an accurate reflection of the original message, make sure you have a back up plan as a way of being contactable. It could be the difference between landing the job and not.