Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

When to NOT Answer a Call from Recruiter

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jul 22, 2015 6:24:14 PM


The other day I was in the zone! I was laser focused on writing a high-impact, succinct, and ATS-friendly resume for a client with a very high-powered career in a fast-changing, highly complex industry. My mind was bearing down to understand deeply and then put into a very few words the value and power of what he brings to the table.

Then, cut to next scene! My iPhone rings. Usually I have the sense to not answer my work phone when I'm writing. Not this time, alas. 🌞

I picked up to hear the voice of an esteemed client whose project I had just completed. He asked did I have a few minutes. I heard myself pause, and in a voice I now recognize as cool, distant, preoccupied, and distracted, I replied "just a few, I'm under deadline" in a voice that conveyed, I'm too busy to talk to you. My great client understood the tone and said OK, later then.

By that time I had caught on to how I must have sounded, and I so regretted it! This is a client who has only known me as warm, 100% present and there for him, his career needs, brand, interests, and concerns. And who did he get when he called me that morning? Jean, the RMV agent! What a shock for him!

So, in an attempt to retrieve the situation, I hauled my attention away from my writing and began to focus on my client and was able to provide some valuable job search coaching for 5 or 10 minutes. My client was generous enough to cut me some slack on my falling short this time.

Still, this experience gave me pause, and this is what I decided: No more answering the phone when I am writing. Period. I know the kind of concentration it takes to write complex executive technology resumes and from now on will honor the need to protect my writing time. But I highly value being available to my clients. So, the answer is: Schedule times to talk only when I am not in my writing mode. No client needs a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde resume writer!

What does all this have to do with you? I'll bet I'm not the only one who has trouble shifting gears suddenly.  So, if you're even a little like me, when a call comes in from a recruiter you make a quick assessment: Can I shift from what I'm doing to 100% quality attention on the phone RIGHT NOW?

At that moment, you may be putting your child to bed, cleaning up after the puppy, laughing at a comedy on the TV, programming an app, fighting with your teenager, or doing your financial planning. In any of those scenarios you could be forgiven for having your mind in an entirely different place than the world of your job search!

So, if you feel you can't make a fast switch, can't put on your professional hat, can't become present to the caller, and can't have your tone of voice express interest, warmth, and enthusiasm, you have two choices. Either answer the call and say could you talk in 15 minutes or don't answer and call the recruiter when you are composed, focused, centered, and ready for an important call. That way, you can bring your best stuff to the phone interview!

"Know Thyself" is at the heart of this. Know what you can do and when you can do it and plan accordingly. And pay attention to how your tone of voice might be interpreted wrongly and how your emotional temperature will surely be picked up on by the caller. Then you will know when the right time is to talk. Aim for excellence. Be fully present! Get the offer!


Topics: job interview, phone etiquette

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Tyrone Norwood