“Please leave your message at the beep…” Time to panic? Nope – just follow these tips, and you’re sure to be called in for the interview.
It’s every candidate’s nightmare: you found an accounting or finance job posting that you’re interested in, and eagerly tried to get a hold of the key contact person, in the hopes of securing an interview. Unfortunately, instead of speaking to the person directly, you find yourself on the other end of – their voicemail!
After stammering and stuttering your way through a brief (or possibly not-so brief) summary of your accounting skills and experience, you blurt out a rote closing and hang up, bringing a merciful end to the whole ordeal. You slump dejectedly in your chair, stare at the wall, and consider abandoning your fledgling accounting career for a role in your uncle’s cement factory. Anything to not have to go through that again!
If this imaginary scenario fills you with dread and trepidation, or awakens some long repressed memories, don’t fret. There are several things you can do to help ensure you score the accounting or finance job interview you are looking for. You can start, of course, with learning how to leave voicemails that sell your skills and make the recipient want to pick up the phone and return your call.
See yourself as a product
First and foremost, you need to understand that you are a product, with specific benefits and advantages that you can pitch to a prospective employer. Personal branding is all about understanding what differentiates you in the marketplace, what separates you from the rest of the crowd.
In order to capture the listener’s attention and encourages them to focus on the rest of the voice message, state your value immediately – ideally within the first two or three sentences of your message. Keep this part of your message short and sweet. Start by stating your name and the position you’re calling about. Then immediately offer a value-driven statement. What is it that you can offer to the hiring company that no other candidate can provide? What is your unique selling proposition?
Personal branding is all about understanding what differentiates you in the marketplace, what separates you from the rest of the crowd.
Create a connection
The next part of your voicemail should draw connections between the responsibilities listed in the job description, and your own personal experience and accomplishments. Think of this part of your message as your answer to the question, “what are your greatest strengths?”
In order to secure a finance job interview, you need to make the contact feel that there is a relationship between the responsibilities of the job, on the one hand, and your past duties, on the other hand. Otherwise, they will conclude that you are wasting their time, applying for a position you’re patently unqualified for.
And again, be succinct. No one’s interested in listening to a rambling, long-winded, orally delivered dissertation.
One of the most powerful ways to communicate your value and make your case to an employer is to offer specific, measurable statistics that illustrate your accomplishments in obvious ways. For example, if a client is looking for someone to assist them with an acquisition and integration, describe how many times you have assisted in an acquisition and integration, where and on what occasions you have done so, how long these took, and what impact (dollar value) they had for your previous employer(s).
By offering specific examples, you can market yourself far more effectively than if you were to rattle off a bunch of tired clichés. You have the experience your prospective employer is looking for, and you’ve had a great deal of professional success – that’s a winning combination in most employers’ books.
The research is fairly conclusive in this regard: people who follow up are much more successful in securing interviews, than those who don’t.
Putting it all together
Here’s an example that you can use as a template the next time you have to leave a voicemail:
“Hi Mr. Andrews, this is Robert Wilson calling. I noticed that you are looking for a person to help you with an acquisition and integration. I’m a CA, with twelve years of experience, seven of which were in senior finance roles. I’ve handled three integrations of acquired companies, ranging from 30 million to a 400 million acquisition. I can help you with your upcoming acquisition and believe that I will be an asset in the process. I am reachable on my cell at (add number). I am also available to meet in person tomorrow or Friday. I look forward to speaking with you in the near future. Again my number is (add number).”
Send an email as a follow-up
Following up is always important, whether we’re talking about writing a thank-you note after an interview, or – in this case – firing off a message to follow up on your previous message. Within twenty-four hours, send an e-mail that reiterates your strengths, accomplishments, and availability. Include a strong call to action, e.g., “I am available to meet in person tomorrow or Friday of this week. I look forward to speaking with you in the near future.” The research is fairly conclusive in this regard: people who follow up are much more successful in securing interviews, than those who don’t.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. You have one chance to leave a voicemail that is succinct, value-driven, and confidently communicated. Take the time to pour over the job posting and write down the different responsibilities that are outlined. Ensure that you make the connections between your experience and the requirements for the advertised position. And remember: you are the product, and as a product, you have specific benefits that you can offer the consumer – in this case, the hiring agent. Don’t shy away from offering specific, measurable examples of past successes and ensure that you send a follow-up e-mail to keep yourself front-of-mind. In no time at all, you’ll have positioned yourself to communicate with confidence and land the finance job interview that you desperately want. It’s only a matter of time – maybe no longer than it takes to leave a voicemail message!
How do you go about leaving a voicemail for a key decision-maker or contact person? Do you read from a script, or freestyle a message? What details do you make sure to include (and leave out)?
Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!