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:

pic­ture source: Life​hacker​.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.