Voicemail – Master Or Slave?

Apr 1, 2007

Here’s a question:

How fast do you respond to your voicemails and emails?
A. Within 1 hour to 90 minutes
B. Within 4 hours
C. Before I go home
D. Within 24 hours

I asked this question at a recent speaking engagement; recruiters raised their hands to indicate their return-call policy. After hands went up for each category, the unanimous answer was D.

Then I asked this question:

Who called?

I know this seems controversial to some, but a famous person once said that if you don’t cause any controversy, you’re not really doing anything. Many recruiting firms have a policy of returning all calls within 24 hours. I don’t. I don’t return all calls. I don’t return any voicemails from candidates who don’t match what I’m currently working on and are not in my area of expertise. And I don’t return phone calls from some guy selling copiers regardless of how many times he calls me. Most importantly, I don’t return calls from someone who is not placeable who calls me every week. How many of us return calls to someone because of what they might “say about us” if we don’t?

Les Brown says, “You don’t have time to respond to your critics.”

Don’t get me wrong – if a good client wants you to talk to his son who is a recent graduate and you don’t place recent graduates, you still should call or return the call. Also, the other exception is when your heart goes out to someone, you should always help that person. But avoid the trap of calling everyone just because that’s the way you’ve always done it. If you called a famous person you did not know or a CEO at a big company, would they return your call within 24 hours? No. Would you think they were jerks? No. You would think they were too busy and successful to return your call. That’s how you are, friend. You’re too busy and successful to respond to “all calls within 24 hours.”

Here’s a time-management philosophy I like:

A. Do the thing that could make me the most money first.
B. Do the thing that makes me the second-most money second.
C. C stands for “See ya!” on everything else.

Joe Pelayo is a true self-made man. He began in the recruiting business in 1986 at the ripe old age of 17, when he says he “found every way to fail in the recruiting business.” After finding success with two recruiting firms, he started his own in 1990. As CEO of Joseph Michaels, Inc., Joe works an active desk recruiting CFOs and related financial and accounting executives. He is a longtime member of the Pinnacle Society, an organization of the top 75 recruiters in the United States.

Joe is also author of the new book Work Your Network! which has received excellent reviews from Les Brown, Brian Tracy, and industry leaders, speakers, and trainers, including Terry Petra, Bill Radin, Paul Hawkinson, and others. He writes a monthly newsletter, “The Network,” sent to 50,000 executives and is the author of several motivational DVD training programs, including the soon-to-be-released training system 21 Ways to Increase Your Billings!

Joe is past president of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, a group of million-dollar business owners under age 40. Joe is available for speaking and training and can be reached through his website or you can reach him via email at