The Job Search and the Cell Phone: Why They Are Often a Bad Mix

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: Job Search Tips |

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, especially for so many young workers who will probably never own a landline phone, but for the sake of their career development, I’ll wear the mantle…

Cell phones and job searches are often a bad combination.

I know, I know. They are convenient. They are always with you. You can call an employer right back. They make you accessible. You no longer need to worry about one of your kids taking the call or your spouse forgetting to give you a message. They make you look hip. Your whole life is on your smartphone. You don’t even remember how to use a landline, for goodness sake!

Although it is true that cell phones have made life more convenient in many ways, they also have helped usher in an era of unprofessionalism that is hurting most job seekers (and they don’t even seem to know it).

I was at the gym the other day, getting ready to take a cycling class, when a woman came in to pick out her bike, all the while speaking on the phone to someone (who she later announced to the woman next to her was a recruiter) about her resume and the kind of job she wanted. How professional does this person sound to you? She didn’t even hang up until the instructor came in and turned on a very loud hip-hop song! At which time, she proceeded to shout, “I’LL HAVE TO CALL YOU BACK LATER. MY CLASS IS STARTING.”

I recognize that many people make concessions for cell phones, but overall, they don’t help job seekers look their best. For one, we seem to lose all common sense and reason when it comes to knowing where and when to take professional calls.

In case you still need convincing, here are the top 3 reasons cell phones can hurt your job search:

1. Phone quality is often poor. We all know the “can you hear me now?” cell phone commercials. They are popular for a reason. Although cell phones have come a long way in terms of quality, by and large, they are still a poor substitute for a landline.

Within the sales industry, representatives often make cold calls from a landline because they recognize that the phone quality is better and they don’t want to risk losing a prospect because of poor phone service. It is a lot of work and preparation to get an employer to contact you. So why would you want to risk it for poor phone quality?

2. Employers don’t want to talk to you while you’re in the grocery store. For some reason, we seem to believe nowadays that phone conversations are appropriate anywhere and everywhere. We don’t often think about what it is like for those on the other end, who can hear all the strange background noise and are straining to make out what you’re saying.

3. Professionals want to speak with other professionals. When you have a conversation with a potential employer, you always want to put your best foot forward. That is difficult to do when you are answering your phone on the go, be it at your current job, at your kid’s soccer game, or in the middle of a parking lot.

So the basic moral of this story is simple: If you have to, take a message and then get yourself to the nearest landline before calling the potential employer (or recruiter) back.

And, please, whatever, you do, don’t show up for cycling class shouting into the phone at your recruiter!

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