Google Voice is still in Beta, but I was lucky enough to get one of their early limited invitations to try out the service. I finally started using it this month, and I can see it being a great tool for job seekers.
First, what is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a free VOIP and voice mail application offered by Google, that can provide some interesting benefits to job seekers.
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This service gives users a free unique local voice number with digital voice mail. Google Voice has call hunting, so you can instruct the service to try you at a variety of numbers - Home, office, cell. You can program Google Voice to only have certain numbers hunt you, and others go straight to voice mail. You can easily switch messages and identities of the phone number. You can have your voice mails delivered to email, either transcribed or as sound files. It's also the resident voice mail for Google's cell phones, and a way you can use it for your own cell phone's voice mail, regardless of the manufacturer.
You're yawning ... I can hear you all the way in Chicago.
You know, I yawned too when I first saw it. At first look, I wasn't sure how this might be any more effective for a job seeker than a trusty old cell phone. But after I tried the service, I realized that a number of Google Voice's advanced features make it so much more powerful than just a cell phone, Voice over IP, or a voice mail service.
These features especially give advantages to both active and passive candidates. Passive candidates have some specific calling issues, because they are searching while still at their jobs and can't always rush off to take cell phone calls at a moment's notice. In addition, passive candidates can find themselves in an uncomfortable situation if a recruiter calls, the candidate takes the call without knowing who is calling, just as the candidate's present boss walks up. No one wants to be in this situation, and Google Voice can help job seekers control it.
Google Voice can also help active candidates do a better job of screening calls, so they don't accidentally take a recruiter's call while at the checkout line in a grocery store with kids screaming in the background - or take a hiring manager's call while at a ball game.
First, here are a list of Google Voice's features, according to Wikipedia:
- A single Google forwarding number to all of the user's phones
- Free calls and SMS in the US and Canada, as well as free international SMS
- Calling international phone numbers for as low as US$0.02 per minute
- Call screening. Announcement of callers based on their number or by an automated identification request for blocked numbers
- Listening in on someone's recording of a voice message before taking a call
- Blocking calls from specified numbers
- Send, receive, and store SMS online
- Answering incoming calls on any configured phone
- Call routing. Selection of phones that should ring based on calling number
- Voicemail transcripts. Reading of voicemail messages online
- Listening to voicemail online or from a phone
- Notification of voicemail messages via email or SMS
- Personalized greetings based on calling number
- Forward or downloading of voicemails
- Conference calling
- Call recording and online archiving
- Switching of phones during a call
- Viewing the web inbox from a mobile device/phone
- Customize preferences for contacts by group
- Ability to change your number for a fee
- Specifying an existing phone number instead of the Google Voice number on initial setup for use with limited functionality, such as some voicemail functions, and using the voice mail system for the user's phone number (mobile devices only).
OK, so there are some regular phone features, and some fancy features.
Why do you need them as a candidate? How can job seekers use these features to their advantage?
- Forwarding to all phones - Google voice will ring all phones that you have it forward to, cell, home, office, Skype, wherever. You can select certain numbers to forward, select number based on the caller (you'd probably want your kids number to ring all your phones, but you might want to route unrecognized numbers straight to voice mail). You can route calls based on time of day. Or if you're waiting from an acceptance call from a specific hiring manager, you can change your preferences to have that number ring additional phones also.
- Call screening - You can have Google Voice request callers to announce themselves, so you can decide if you want to take the call, or send to voice mail. Most importantly, this separates work calls coming to your cell, from job search calls. This can help you avoid taking an unplanned recruiter call on your cell in the office, or an unplanned hiring manager call while you're on the golf course.
- Personalized greeting, based on phone number - Have a different greeting for your kids, for your friends, and for others. Now you don't have to change that great Three Stooges outbound voice mail message you have on your home phone, just because you're searching for a job.
- Separate phone number - If you use your Google Voice number just for your job search, then you'll know that all calls that lead with an announcement message are job search calls. If you are ready for the call, take a deep breath and take it. Otherwise, send to voice mail until you're prepared, in the right place, and right frame of mind to return the call.
- Phone switching - What if you pick up a call from a recruiter, 5 minutes before you have to leave for an appointment, or an interview? Google Voice allows you to switch a call from your office phone to your cell on the fly without losing the call or having to call back.
- Number switching - You can use your present cell phone number ($10 fee), or even switch the number to a different area code. If you are trying to make a geographic move, this is an easy way to get a local number.
- Voicemail archiving - Ever accidentally erase an important message? We all have - Google Voice archives your voice mail by sending you an email for each.
- Listening to Voicemail online - Your battery has never run out of juice, has it?
- Privacy - Some job seekers are reluctant to publish their phone number online, on social networks, or even on their resume. By setting up a Google Voice number just for your job search, you won't have to worry about fraudulent use of this number by identity thieves.
- International calling - Very inexpensive international calling rates.
- Blocking calls - You can block specific numbers, like the insurance agent who always calls at dinner, sending them straight to voice mail. Then again, this would work well for ex's also.
To apply, go to http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html.
Readers - How do you think these features could help in your job search?
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