Beware of your voicemail!
There are many industries and professions that are highly competitive and rely on “gold collar” workers. These are the idea people and engineers who help bring the company forward to lead their respective industries. These people are highly sought after by competitors and by recruiters for competitors. Recognizing this fact, most semiconductor firms guard their employees so closely that they no longer have employee directories. In the past, these directories usually ended up in the hands of competitors and recruiters more quickly than they went to employees.
Which brings us to the problem of voicemail.
A particularly crafty executive recruiter we know is an expert at voicemail raids. He waits until the wee hours, when no one is at a plant or design center, and then calls the company. Most voicemail systems have the caller enter a limited number of selections and then “if you know your party’s extension you may dial it now or if you don’t know the party’s extension please push [number] and enter the first 3-5 letter of the person’s name.” Most larger companies organize their phone mail and extensions according to numbered groups. For example, 1100 to 1200 are the extensions of the people working in shipping and receiving; 2200 to 2300 are the extensions of the people working in purchasing; and 6000 to 6500 are the extensions of people working in design and development. This predictability — according to my voicemail raid expert an 85% or better probability —allows our expert to develop an entire company telephone directory in one or two evenings. Now, our expert doesn’t care about shipping or purchasing, he just wants the D&D people. This shortens the task to one or two hours of work. How dangerous could this be for a firm? Read Quo Vadis? in the April 1999 ÆGIS e-journal (http://www.lubrinco.com/lgejournal.html).
How do you defend against this? Simple. Assign the extension numbers at random.
Also key is the message on the voicemail. Don’t let employees leave messages like “Hi! This is Diane at extension 6620 in C-MOS Design, my hours are 2pm to 10pm Sunday through Thursday. If you called during this time I am probably at the memory FAB development, extension 6744. You can reach me there or leave a message.” This is a real message that our expert recorded, and which he plays when training his employees to do voicemail raids. It tells us that the company is running at least two shifts, and, since the designer is working with FAB, that a new memory product is entering the manufacturing stage. Not bad CI for one phone mail message!
The solution is to make the message more professional and less informative. Diane says “Hello, this is Diane Rogers, please leave a message.” It is simple, professional, and with no clues for voicemail raiders.