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I’ve been an IT consultant for several years now. At the end of every contract, I had this problem where I would almost always run out of minutes on my AT&T cell phone plan, while fielding calls for potential new contracts and taking lengthy phone interviews. Ah yes, enter the rollover minutes – that’s something that kept my head out of water for a while when on a new contract quest. Personally, I think it’s a great feature and I was diligent in saving up on the minutes. But it can take you only so far.

I burnt through my rollover and plan minutes faster than a burning haystack on several occasions while on the job search and interview cycle. The resulting phone bill put a hole in my wallet the size of Texas. Yes, I know what you are thinking – I did have a land line. But the limitation is that you would list only one main phone number in your resume where vendors and clients can reach you at any given time whether you are at work, outside or at home. Inevitably that number is your mobile phone.

Enter my savior, Google Voice. I knew about Google Voice for several years since it was in the beta stage. I had a vague idea how it worked but never thought about trying it before. Chalk up my unwillingness/procrastination/laziness to one of those conundrums in life that you can never answer like ‘What women want?’ or ‘Why can’t you straighten a dog’s tail?’ which is an interesting topic by the way and I plan to get to it sometime.

After using Google Voice, the difference is like night and day. It is an absolutely brilliant product and for the life of me cannot imagine how I got around without it all these years. The concept is deceptively simple – Google will route all calls to a number of your choosing to any number of landlines and mobile phones you own simultaneously. That line says it all. I have no idea of the hoops Google had to jump, arms of service providers they had to twist, or black magic code they had to write to get the service to work the way it works today. It just works and works it does like a charm, at least for my purposes.

All I had to do was to sign up for a Google Voice number and on the settings page list my land line and mobile phone to which all calls should be forwarded simultaneously. The Google Voice number is what I list on my resume. That’s all there is to it. Now there are numerous features and cutting edge new stuff on Google Voice and its best left to Google Voice’s website to explain all the myriad features. Just in case, did I mention Google Voice is free?

Some of the features I use constantly are listed below:

  1. Call Forwarding – Obviously call forwarding to my different phones. If I’m home, I always pick up the land line.
  2. Pre-screening Callers – Google Voice asks callers to identify themselves. This is great when you lift up the phone and you can hear an announcement about who the call is from. If you are like me where 60%-70% of calls you receive are irrelevant regarding new positions, you can just redirect the call to voicemail.
  3. Voicemail Inbox – I access my voicemail mostly through Google Voice’s inbox on my PC. You can do it via your smartphone as well via the Mobile Google Voice app.
  4. Voicemail Transcription – This is a nice icing on the cake but the transcription can be off quite a bit when the caller has an accent.
  5. Personalized greeting for different callers.
  6. Mobile Phone App – I use the Google Voice app for my Android phone.
  7. Address Book – Callers can be added to Google Contacts. I selectively add contacts with their details. When a caller who is already in the address book calls, I get the ID of the caller from Google Contacts in my mobile phone. If you have Caller ID enabled on your land line, you will get the usual Caller ID.
  8. Text Message – It’s free if sent from Google Voice website/inbox. Not sure about using it from the Android app. I don’t use it that much but compelled to list it as many of my friends text like there is no tomorrow.

Google Voice has been one of the best productivity and cost saving tools I have come across as an IT consultant while on a hunt for new opportunities. It’s easier to setup than you think and the productivity boost is tangible almost immediately. I maybe late to the Google Voice party, but hopefully this posts helps somebody out there as much as Google Voice has helped me.