Job Search Strategies: How to Leave a Message that Gets a Return Phone Call

When you are in a job search, part of your strategy probably involves some “cold calling,” some networking-related phone calls, and of course, follow up phone calls. I advise leaving messages when appropriate. “Appropriate” means you want to demonstrate you are following up properly with your contact. If the contact is a really important one to you, then it makes sense that you are going to invest more time trying to connect with him or her.

If you call 5 times or even 10 times and don’t hear back, it’s important to remain emotionally neutral about it. It’s rarely personal. People are busy and it’s our responsibility to follow up consistently on our best leads. When I am attempting to get an article published or I am asking a company to donate something for a non-profit I may be volunteering for, I too usually have to call my contacts at least a half a dozen times before I am able to talk with them. It’s typical. Knowing that takes the sting out of it for me… how about you?

How Many Messages to Leave

I am often asked how many messages to leave. It depends, of course, but I would say at least 3 within 7 to 10 days shows appropriate follow up. I would also call your contact additional times within that 7 to 10 day time frame, but just refrain from leaving a voice mail message at those times.

So just what kind of message do you leave? Personally, I like the middle-of-the-road message – not too short, not too long. It goes something like this:

Leaving a Message

“Hi Mr. Smith, this is Shane Beck from Hill Country Investments. It’s Tuesday morning and I am calling because I am working on a project I would really like to garner your expertise on. I will be in the office all day today. My number is 212-555-1212. Thanks and I really look forward to speaking with you.”

It’s not sneaky sounding like, “Hi, this is Shane, my number is 212-555-1212.” Click. And it’s not too long. I never, ever recommend leaving a long message. It’s time-consuming for your listener and can be taken as presumptuous and unprofessional.

If you are leaving a second message, use the same diplomatic and friendly approach. Avoid sounding irritated that your phone call has yet to be returned:

Leaving a Second Message

“Hi Mr. Smith, this is Shane Beck from Hill Country Investments. I reached out to you early last week but just wanted to leave another short message. It’s Monday morning and I will be in the office all day today. My number is 212-555-1212. Thanks and once again, I really look forward to speaking with you.”

An Additional Tip

When talking on the phone it’s always a great idea to stand up and smile! A smile can be “heard” over the phone and standing up increases your energy, and strengthens and rounds out the tone of your voice. You will feel more confident and sharp too. Try it – it works!

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

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