My sister blatantly admits that if I leave her a voicemail she does not listen to it. Rather she calls me back to see what's going on. If it's important enough for me to leave a message, she figures it's important enough to call back. She should be thankful she's not applying to work for me.
Assuming that you have gotten far enough in your job search that a recruiter has gotten past your ringtone and left you a message, it is time for you to take that crucial step. Yes. You must listen to your voicemail. Who called? Where does he/she work? What do they want you to do? What number should you call? Who should you ask for?
In our smart phone world of just hitting the most recent missed call, take the time to listen. Your recruiter or hiring manager will not be impressed with, "Hi, this is Sally. I just got a call from someone at this number?" I have a proper name...I'm not just someone at this number. And if that isn't bad enough, imagine the employee, possibly the recruiter that you're hoping to interview with, answering the phone asking "Did the person who called you leave a message?" and you having to say "Well...I....uh didn't listen to it." Or you lie, claiming that you did not receive a message and hope that the person on the other end was not the person who called you. Either way, those are not the responses of a winning candidate.
Remember the job description? It may have included words like professional, attention to detail, thoroughness, responsibility and personalized service.
When a recruiter leaves you a message you have the luxury of returning the call at a time that works for you. You're not in the car, you're not in the bathroom, you're not in the line at the grocery store. You're prepared to sell yourself and answer his/her questions. You have just ruined your first impression if you haven't taken the time to call the right number and ask for the right person. That whole attention to detail thing? We're not kidding. The lack of attention to detail on your part may lead to a lack of interview on our part.
*Please take this as a fun and common sense approach to navigating the mysterious world of HR and not formal professional advice.