Advice on Contacting Me by Phone: Don’t

by Cosmo Catalano

I’m not sure to whom this post would be best addressed. Baby-boomers? Recruiters? Sales teams? All of the above?

Since you’re calling me, let’s assume you have a landline. When I was a kid my parents had a landline, and 95-99% of the calls that came in were obnoxious wastes of time. It got so bad that Congress had to pass legislation protecting people from the steady, inane barrage.

Though I’m sure your phone call is different, special, and important, it’s still an unknown number, and it’s still proposing an immediate, intrusive interaction between us.

For me, and I think for most other people, the workday is not a networking event where we’re going to bump into each other, exchange light-but-strategically-telling chatter, and then swap business cards. I spend my working hours working, and banal though some of my tasks may be, taking a random phone call at 11am improves my performance on none of them.

Then there’s the research factor. If I don’t know you, I want a written introduction. Text I can scan immediately, and follow up on in detail later. Something I can vet for spam or Google to check for recycled text. Names and companies I can research on LinkedIn. There is a ton of valuable information floating around on the Interwebs, and I wouldn’t be any good to you as a candidate if I didn’t want to use all of it.

And don’t tell me this is an unfair expectation. I put nearly everything I do online for this very reason—no sense in your wasting a database entry on me if my experiences or attitude aren’t going to be a good match for a business partnership or recent opening.

Sometimes, I’ll admit, there is a need for immediate, rapid-fire conversation—and for that, technologies like [your preferred instant message platform] work great. Yes, I’d even take Skype, which mimics the user experience of a phone call, with neat little features like being able to exchange links and text without parroting them to each other out loud like we’re stuck in some dystopian, technicolor version of Lassie.

Finally, and most immediately, I get really lousy cell reception at work. Despite having the entire Internet at my disposal via Wifi, your attempt to reach me by phone will only work over a flickering, intermittent radio signal. While there are times when I don’t have Wifi and do have cell access, unlike your voice call, the regular Internet works just fine over either.

Please, save us both the scratchy, staccato tennis match of “hellos” and “can-you-hear-mes”—just send an email.