You have a missed call, and it wasn’t your mother

Your mom called. How do you know?  You see the missed call on your cell phone, so youmom missed call call her back. You know it’s her, so you don’t have to bother listening to the message, if she even bothered to leave one.

Now, imagine that a number you can’t identify called and left you a voicemail message.  You skip the voice mail and call back, explaining that someone from that number called you.  Turns out that it’s a company where you applied for an internship, co-op or full-time job.  Great!

Only, there’s a problem. Turns out all the company numbers go through a main switchboard, and you’ve just called the receptionist. He or she has no idea who called you, or any reasonable way to find out because so many different people work there.

Now what?

I hope you saved that voice mail message.

Calling back friends and family without listening to their messages is common, and for many people, the norm (though personally, if you don’t leave me a voice mail, then it can’t be that important and I’ll call you back at my leisure).  Doing so with a potential employer, however, can backfire. Here’s what employers may think (assuming you ever make it to the correct person):

  • You’re lazy. I left you a message and you couldn’t be bothered to listen to it.
  • You don’t follow instructions. I told you what to do in the message.
  • You expect other people to do your work for you. You had the info at your fingertips but you asked somebody else to go find it for you.
  • All of the above.
picture source: Lifehacker.com

picture source: Lifehacker.com

Do any of those qualities sound like what an employer wants in a potential employee? (If you said yes, I’m going to be the one calling your mother.)

Listen to the message. Follow the instructions. Make the best possible impression you can.

Tina Mello is Associate Director of NU Career Development, and has worked at Northeastern for over 10 years. Nicknamed the “information guru” by other members of the staff, she loves to research and read about various job/career/education topics. For more career advice, follow her on twitter @CareerCoachTina.