The 3 Scripts You Need BEFORE You Make Any Call

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.comYou received a message with the request that you call the person back.  It could be a job opportunity or prospective client.  Either way, it is a very important call.

A new job or a new lucrative revenue stream could depend upon this call.


No pressure, of course.


Before you pick up that phone in haste and excitement, make sure you are prepared.


Do you have three versions of your message ready?


Yes, I said three.  Here is why:


  1. If the person you wish to speaks with answers the phone.  This is best case scenario and the one most people are prepared for.
  2. If you reach their voicemail.  This is where people might stumble.  They either prepare for voicemail or the actual person – but not both.
  3. If you reach a gatekeeper.  This is the one that people tend to forget.


You should be prepared for each scenario so that way, no matter which option you get, you come across confident, collected and professional.


I honestly cannot tell you the number of times I have answered the phone to be met with “Oh, I didn’t expect you to answer.”  I dropped the niceties a long time ago and now gently, and with a smile ask, “Then why did you call me?”


The normal answer: “I expected to get your voicemail.”


This is not the best way to start a conversation with someone you are hoping will hire you.


Over the years I have received my fair share of voicemails that were pretty close to train wrecks.  It took some time to get to the point, there was a lot of reiteration of information, hurrying through the phone number (or forgetting it) and a weak conclusion.


This is the least pressure call of all – you do not even have to talk to an actual person.


Here are some pointers for all three calls:


  1.  Use your full name, not just your first name.  Odds are they know more than one person with your first name.  You may not be top of mind when you call, even if they do not.
  2. If you are calling a prospect, be sure to use your first and last name along with your company name.
  3. Thank them for calling or contacting you, which leads into:
  4. Let them know you are returning their call or their message per their request.  They may have forgotten they called you.
  5. If you are leaving a voicemail, let them know the date and time that you are leaving the message – electronic date stamping is not infallible.
  6. If talking to the person of interest and they hesitate or seem to not remember why they called you, offer a gentle nudge.  Gentle, not straight out, “You were calling to offer me the position.”
  7. If you get a gatekeeper, pay attention to their name if given when answering the phone.  Then say hello using their name, give your first and last name and tell them you were returning a call to Mr./Ms. Person of Interest.
  8. You do not need to give the entire story to the gatekeeper.  Just let them know you are returning the call and if the person of interest is not available ask if you may leave a message.  Then thank them at the end.
  9. If giving your phone number to a gatekeeper or voicemail, speak slowly.  Picture in your mind writing each number down as you say it, this will allow the person on the other end enough time to get it the first time.
  10. At the end of your voicemail, thank them, repeat your phone number and let them know when you would be available if convenient for them.
  11. No matter whom you speak to – thank them.  Manners matter.
  12. Smile.  Whether you talk to a person or machine, smile.  It comes through in your voice.  You sound positive and confident.


With a little preparation you will be able to deliver the perfect call or message no matter what the situation and seal that deal!


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer





“I Thought You Would Be Taller”

Jake and me 2014

I hear that a lot.


It is normally one of the first things, right after “Nice to meet you in person” that someone says to me after only having phone conversations.


I am five foot tall, I am used to it.  My son is six foot one and his dad is six foot four.  I’m the short one in the family.  I am also very petite.  Short and petite – double whammy.


But I don’t sound like it.


The picture in this post is my son and I – and I am wearing three inch heels!  When he was growing up I had three rules for him and all his friends (who I unofficially adopted as my second sons and to them I am ‘Momma McDonald’).  They were: do not call mom short, shorty, midget or anything thereof; do not pick mom up; and do not pat mom on top of the head.


All the boys knew my rules and pretty much stuck to them.  Of course now as young men in their twenties they pretty much ignore the picking me up rule, they seem to have to do this when they give me a hug.  I’m okay with the breaking of that rule in that instance.


But I digress.  Back to point.


People form an image of you based on what is presented – in all mediums.  I have a strong voice.  When giving a seminar last week the IT liaison was showing me the microphone.  To which I replied I didn’t need it.  I can amplify just fine on my own.


When speaking I take care to speak in a measured tone (not too fast), clearly and in an octave slightly lower than my normal speaking voice.  It is easier to understand and it delivers authority.


I am very mindful of how I speak, communicate in writing and my personal presence.  All these things represent me and it is my responsibility to make sure they are in alignment with me as a person and a professional.


People naturally form images of you based on what they see and read.  At the seminar when I walked into the meeting room one of my contacts looked at me and said, “I thought you would be taller.”  Not surprising.  But then he said my profile picture on LinkedIn made me look taller.


That was a new one.  I just laughed and told him at five foot nothing makes me look taller.


But the point is this – an image is formed, even when they have seen you visually – that may not be consistent with who you are.  That is why it is important to manage your message in a manner that is consistent with you among all mediums.


That is why I tell my resume, LinkedIn and business communication clients that it is imperative that their voice is included in their work.  It must sound like you to represent you and bring consistency.


If I sounded meek in my writing I would really blow the minds of my clients and audiences when I walk into a room and open my mouth.  Two totally different personas, which would leave them wondering which one am I.


Don’t surprise your prospects – allow them to see you for who you are by making sure all your written communication is in alignment and consistent with your personal persona.


If they reach out to you based on your written word it means they liked something in your message.  You want to make sure that you are representing that in person to continue the communication and ultimately transform that prospect into a client.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Do You Lead or Check Boxes?


One of my paramount fundamentals in working with clients is expressing their value.


It is not enough to tell people that you have a skill set, been in your industry x number of years or have a certain title – what matters is the value you bring.


Imagine two candidates both with similar experience and skill sets.  Imagine having a meeting, whether it is a interview or client meeting and you ask them (or think of when reading their resume/LinkedIn/bio): “Tell me about working at XYZ Company.”


Candidate A responds: “I’m a manager there overseeing a team of five and work with clients in managing their financial assets.”


Candidate B responds: “I partner with, mentor and lead a team of five in bringing information, security and planning to our clients in all aspects of their finances from identifying their needs and goals, researching options, opportunities and challenges to strategically planning out short term and long term plans, goals and action steps.  We then maintain constant communication within the team and with our clients to ensure we hit our marks and have earned a great reputation of success and trust which merited 65% of all our new clients are referrals from current clients.”


Candidate A basically told you their title, but nothing else.


Candidate B told not only told you they are a manager but gave you insight as to how they manage their people and their clients.  They expressed their value: a mentor and team leader to their team; focused and dedicated to their clients and gave me some proof in the pudding.


Your value sets you apart from everyone else, it gets you noticed and bottom line – it gets you hired.


You need to answer the question of value before they ask.  If Candidate A told me that I would pretty much be done with the conversation.  They did not bring anything to the table enough to peak my interest to ask them more.  Remember, you want my business or for me to hire you – it is your job to excite me about you as a candidate; not for me to dig it out of you.


If I was speaking to Candidate B I would definitely want to ask more.  They sold themselves without being cocky or expecting me to be able to read between the lines.


It is the natural mindset of an interviewer – no matter a potential boss or client – to be skeptical.  The example I give my clients is if you are in sales and state that you were second in the district the immediate internal thought by the potential boss/client is “what, out of three?”


They are bombarded with candidates and so many candidates misrepresent themselves that it is no wonder that the potentials are skeptical.  They are overwhelmed.  The last thing you want them to do is think, because they more than likely take it to a negative place.  Sell your value not your title.


You might notice Candidate B’s answer is quite a bit longer without trying to infuse hot key words.  Also, it would be very easy to assume Candidate A is a box checker and Candidate B is a leader.   He/she didn’t say it – they demonstrated it.


There are two reasons why you do not communicate your value: either you don’t know how or you don’t add any.


No value: starting with a title and ending with duties.


Value: Start with the result of what you do and work backward.  How do people benefit from what you do leads to how you do it.  That is how you express your value.


If you are still struggling on how to identify and express your value I just happen to know someone that can help you with that… me!


Ok, shameless little plug, sorry.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Don’t Say My Name, Say My Name…

Did you know that when someone uses your name while speaking to you that it is not always a good thing?


I had a conversation with my best friend the other day about this and she said she thought the other person would be trying to be closer or make the conversation more intimate by using your name.  Not so much.


Let me explain the difference.


When you first meet someone it is perfectly acceptable and understandable to say their name often when speaking to them as it helps you remember it.  When you run into someone that you have not seen for a while or only see sporadically saying their name during conversation again helps you remember their name.  This is a good thing – they want to remember your name.  Go ahead on – say my name, say my name.


It is when you have formed some sort of relationship with a person and they begin using your name that you should realize they are distancing themselves from you or they are not happy with you on some level.


My son always knew when I was not happy with him – I would use his name.  For example:


If I said:  “I’m sorry, you are planning on doing what?” that was a more joking, ‘are you insane’ kind of question but still probably going to let him do it, just making sure he hasn’t completely lost all his marbles or that I heard him correctly.


But if I said, “I’m sorry, Jacob, you are planning on doing what?” it meant I found out about the hidden plan or there was no way in hell he was going anywhere near where he thought he was.


Now, according to my son, the only reason a person has a middle name is so they know when their parents are really ticked at them.  When he was little he met a friend of mine who did not have a middle name.  My little boy looked at him and with the sincerest face asked, “Then what does your mom call you when she is mad at you?”


Just by using his name my son knew the line had been crossed.  Think about it, when you are mad at your spouse isn’t that when you use their name?  Otherwise you say nice things like hon, sweetie, pookey or nothing at all – it is implied.


When talking to a client or business associate and they use your name they are giving you a signal that there is something wrong there.  Perhaps they are not happy with you or they are thinking about using another service provider and they are laying the foundation for separating themselves from you.


The caveat here is if they always use your name.  Then it is an established pattern.  What I am talking about is if they start using your name out of nowhere.


I saw this with a friend of mine.  He was no boy scout by any means but a very fun, loving person.  He made a personal decision to go through some life-coaching and threw himself into it 110%.  I applauded him for this because he did it to help him in certain areas of his life.  Yay you.


What happened after thought is I noticed when he was talking to certain people, business associates and friends, he started using their name during conversations.  I knew immediately he was putting up an invisible hand to them telling them he no longer wanted them in his personal space.


These were people he had good relationships with and got along very well with but now he was removing himself and elevating himself just by using their name.  In this small step he was revealing that he now viewed them as less than desirable to be associated with – not because anything they did but because he changed how he viewed himself.


He really was being quite the butt because the people he was distancing were good people.  Just because he condemned himself for his non-boy scout behavior he was condemning them as well.  The words rocks and glass houses comes to mind…


People might distance themselves because they are upset with you or perhaps they have changed something within themselves.  This is just a little heads up that in out of the blue start using your name in conversation is a little hint that something has changed.


By knowing this little unique tidbit you can now take the opportunity if it happens to you to head off a possible challenging or bad situation.  Information is power – use it wisely.  Instead of full out confronting the person about what is wrong try approaching it in a positive and more subtle way.


The clue itself is subtle and sometimes the person isn’t fully aware that they are giving themselves away.  If you respond with, “Are you mad with me, have I don’t something to upset you?” or anything of the like you will probably catch them off guard.  In doing so you probably will not get to the heart of the matter.


Instead, if it is a client, thank them again for the opportunity to work with them.  Then tell them that you value them and their opinion and would like to know if they think there is anything you can do to improve your service.


Approach the subject gently and with honest care and compassion which will help you get to the underlying issue.  Perhaps you need to check in more regularly with this person because they are feeling neglected.  Or perhaps their personal life has gone to pot and they just need a friend.


You don’t know the underlying issue so do not assume, but use the clue to help uncover what might be hiding underneath and retain a valued relationship.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.