I was watching Good Morning America and Robin Roberts talked about how telephone service provider, Vonage, reported that the number of voicemails people left had decreased by 8 percent from October 2013 until this year. She and the other hosts talked about how uncommon it is nowadays for young people to leave voicemails. So much so that Roberts mentioned that there is even a school in New York that teaches millennials how to leave voicemails.
Voicemail 101? I had to look this up.
And sure enough, my research came across The Etiquette School of New York, which objects to “help foster the ideals of proper etiquette, good manners and civil behavior.”
The school offers, among many classes, intern training for newly-hired workers, recent college graduates or interns, and one of the areas under its “Business Etiquette 101” course is techno-etiquette–telephone, cell phones, speaker phones, voice mail and fax machines.
According to a New York Times story, Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, the founder of the Etiquette School of New York, estimates that 30 to 40 percent of her clients are millennials. The story quotes Napier-Fitzpatrick as saying that her clients’ voicemails “lack polish.”
“I coach them to be professional,” she said. “Not to say, ‘Hey, this is Bob, call me,’ and then hang up. I tell them to say hello, state their full name and a full message, and ‘I would appreciate a call back, thank you.’ ”
The story also explains that, according to a 2012 Pew report on the phone habits of children ages 12 to 17, teenagers sent and received a median of 60 texts per day in 2011 versus 50 texts per day in 2009. The story noted that just 14 percent of the age group makes daily landline calls to friends compared with 30 percent in 2009.
I don’t know any millennials who own (or use) a landline and unless we have something important to say to a relative or close friend, most millennials I know skip voicemails as well.
If text is the preferred form of communication among young people today, I wonder if this “preference” will ever affect the recruiting world. As more and more millennials opt in for texting and opt out of voice calls and messages, will recruiters have to adopt text as the new form of communication when sourcing younger talent?
It reminds me of emails. I cannot tell you how many times in college a group I was a part of had trouble with members not staying up to date because the students failed to check their emails. Massive group texts, Facebook messages and apps like GroupMe were more effective for communicating with students than traditional email.
Even recently I was surprised when a new acquaintance emailed me about a networking event. She is my age and the majority of people I know my age and younger do not send emails anymore. In fact, about 90 percent of my email communications are business/work-related and have nothing to do with the social aspect of my life or people in my age group.
We’re seeing email die out among young workers, and landlines have been obsolete. Now with physically speaking to someone via phone taking a backburner to texts and emojis, will recruiters need to change their communication tactics in order to attract younger workers?
The Etiquette School of New York’s website says, “Although the spirit of etiquette remains the same, the expression of etiquette–the rules of conduct which govern social life and our associations with one another–is forever evolving to adjust to the times.”
Is there a benefit in understanding how to leave a proper and professional voicemail? Is one’s ability to effectively communicate his/her qualifications via phone an important part of the recruitment process, or should recruiters adjust to the times and adopt a text-only communication practice?