I might have mentioned that I work in Human Resources. What follows is one of my more serious posts; however, the next time you need to look for a job, I have a little secret to share that will improve your chances. I also have a few pictures from a new series, “Blue & Green,” but today’s top priority is you. If you don’t need a job at this time, great. You must know someone who does, so please feel free to pass this on. I hire people for a living, and I want to make the jobhunter’s job a little easier. Remember that this advice comes from a genuine HR professional–skip those expensive seminars, this is good stuff and tonight, you get it for free.
It happens every single day. The phone rings.
“Hello? Hello? I’m sorry, can you speak up please? Hello? Did you say something? This isn’t a good connection, can you please speak a little louder?” And then, finally, the inevitable question:
“Are you on a cell phone?”
And it’s always a cell phone.
Millions of Americans have disposed of their landlines. The motives vary: many people want to save money; I dropped my landline because I hadn’t received a call to that number for 3 consecutive months. Yeah, not even one of those annoying sales calls that come during your dinner hour for three whole months.
Overall, this turns out well for the most part for the most people, since their friends and family mostly live nearby.
The problems start when they call out of their area code. When I moved to the Bay Area in 1982, the 510, 650 and 925 area codes did not yet exist. 510 came in 1991, whilst 650 and 925 arrived in 1998. Other new area codes near the Bay Area: 530 in 1997; 831 in July 1998. During the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 fiscal years, I received thousands of phone calls from these area codes and others around the entire country. The reception was usually very poor.
The thing is, hiring people is what I do for a living, and I happen to like my job. The poor cell phone reception I endure on a daily basis makes my job harder than it needs to be. But I have a job. Think of the millions of Americans who don’t. They represent an infinitely bigger priority.
True: our roads and highways need a lot of work. True, our bridges have begun to crumble. True, our whole infrastructure needs a retrofit. Indeed, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has directly or indirectly hired hundreds of people (probably more like thousands) to repair, reinforce or retrofit our entire water system. If you’re into infrastructure, the PUC is an extraordinary utility to study. No brag: we win awards we don’t know exist until we receive them. It’s like the manager of the Brazilian men’s national soccer team saying, “Thank you for this lovely trophy, but what exactly is the World Cup?”
I respectfully suggest that improved cell phone reception in the United States of America is at least as important as any other improvements to our infrastructure (and the other improvements are desperately needed). If you’re looking for a job right now, then improved cell phone reception is most important for you. Now I don’t know anything about the politics or lobbying or economics involved in the telecommunications industry, so I’ll change course before I start making more than my usual share of factual errors.
Instead, permit me to offer some advice on how to use your cell phone to get a job.
Whenever you call a potential employer, and you go into voice mail, here is the single most important thing you can do: state your phone number twice, slowly.
Let me repeat that.
State. Your. Phone. Num. Ber. Twice. Slooooooooowly.
I’m a guy who likes to answer the phone on the first ring. I don’t approve of the BS schtick of making people wait a zillion rings before picking up the phone. I call that a pathetic power game that only demonstrates the powerlessness of the people who make you wait. Trouble is, I don’t spend the entire day at my desk, so some calls go into voice mail. All too often, people state their name twice, slowly, and then rush through their phone number so fast that sometimes I can’t figure out what they said. In other words, sometimes I can’t call them back. When you use your phone to hunt for a job, your phone number becomes infinitely more important than your name. Sounds odd, but very true. If I have your number, I can always call back and then learn your name. If I don’t have your number, I can’t call you at all.
Good luck out there. As I wrote at the top, if you don’t need any job-hunting advice at this point in time, please feel free to pass this on to a friend who does.
Vonn Scott Bair