Phone First

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Bill Simone, owner of Custom Design & Construction in Los Angeles, used to spend at least 15 minutes on the telephone going through the fine points of an open position with each job applicant only to find that many callers weren't a fit.

January 01, 2003

Bill Simone, owner of Custom Design & Construction in Los Angeles, used to spend at least 15 minutes on the telephone going through the fine points of an open position with each job applicant only to find that many callers weren't a fit. Then he would spend additional time trying to get back on task after the interruption. Finally, Simone decided to let technology do his dirty work. Five years ago, he installed another phone line and hooked up an answering machine.

Now when Simone places a help-wanted in the local newspaper, the phone number in the ad goes directly to that answering machine, which has a two- to three-minute outgoing message that describes the position's duties, hours, pay structure and location. The message instructs callers who are still interested to fax a resume along with a letter explaining why they would be a fit for the company. It asks them not to call the office.

"That gives me the opportunity to go through the applicants at my leisure and call back when it's convenient for me," Simone says.

While the answering machine works nicely for his small company, he suggests that a larger company could use voice mail with several mailboxes to handle multiple open positions. Simone's dedicated phone line costs about $30 per month. He estimates that the nominal investment saves him hundreds of hours and, as a result, thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

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