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It’s happened to all of us. We send an e-mail out into the world with the best of intentions—hoping to land a job, or connect with an old friend, or even to set up a date.  We send that e-mail off, and then we wait. And wait. And wait.

It’s happened to all of us, and we’ve all wondered if (hoped that perhaps) we wound up in spam. Or were accidentally deleted. Or maybe even got the wrong e-mail address.

But most of the time, the receiver of said e-mail probably just decided not to respond. For any number of reasons that may have nothing (or everything) to do with you.

I can’t provide much insight into why your old friend or romantic interest didn’t get back to you—those are personal issues you might need to dissect over a pint (of either ice cream or beer) with your posse. But as a successful recruiter with an overflowing inbox, I can give you a better understanding of why your inquiry into a job opening went un-responded to.

Or at least, what you can do to improve your chances of getting that reply.

First of all, I really do get countless e-mails every day. I say “countless” because the number is really high, and I don’t want to count them! In a perfect world, I would respond to each and every one of those e-mails immediately. But in reality, the days are short and my priorities are fixed.

Which means that if you want me (or any busy hiring manager or recruiter, for that matter) to reply to your e-mail, it’s essential to make it easy to reply.

Like… stupid easy. So easy that why wouldn’t I reply?

So speaking on behalf of all those busy hiring managers and recruiters (or potential customers, vendors, or first dates) with similar inbox challenges, here are some suggestions for that next important e-mail you send:

  1. Don’t Play Coy: Make your subject line one that tells the recipient immediately who you are and what you’re writing about—a subject line that can quickly and easily be located again later if he can’t respond right away. Inquiring about a specific job? Try just using your name and that job title in the subject line: James Taylor, open Project Manager Position.
  2. Keep it Short and Sweet: You know how we’ve talked about the six seconds hiring managers spend looking at a resume? I would argue that number is even less for e-mail inquiries. When managers get e-mails from people who aren’t clients, and with whom they don’t already have an ongoing correspondence—they browse, and browse fast, before prioritizing how/when to reply.  Just, I suspect, as you do with emails you receive.  Which means you have maybe a few sentences to hook them. Be clear about what you want, why you’re contacting them, and how they can best assist you. Now isn’t the time for outlining your life story…or for providing no details and hoping the recipient can read your mind.
  3. Watch Your Tone: For the record, I know it’s frustrating to be on the job hunt. And I am really, truly, genuinely sorry for that frustration. I have all kinds of compassion for it, I promise. But all the compassion in the world doesn’t excuse terse, demanding, or overly frustrated communications with hiring managers and recruiters. If you want to get their attention (or mine), maintain a polite and professional tone, no matter how many times you’ve reached out to no avail. Getting testy does not improve your chances of a positive response.
  4. Have Patience: I believe everyone deserves the courtesy of a response.  So, the vast majority of the time, I will get back to you—it just might not happen within hours, and it probably won’t happen until I have additional information for you, which is dependent on my client’s schedule.  Following up every day is only going to further overwhelm my inbox. So give me 3 to 5 business days before you check back in. And then, a simple and polite reminder that you’re waiting for a reply is usually all it takes to remind me that I still need to get back to you.
  5. Attach the Deets: Keep your e-mail short and sweet, but don’t forget to attach your professional resume for me to review. And no, LinkedIn doesn’t count. Sure, I might peruse your profile if you include the link in your resume, but for a clear picture of how I can present you to hiring managers… the resume is a must have.

I love my job and the people I work with. And I love helping people to land their dream careers. I promise, ignoring you is not on my agenda. But if you make my life easier by being clear about who you are, what you want, and how you’re hoping I might be able to help—I’ll be able to respond more quickly and enthusiastically with my thoughts on how we can get you that job!  And with the possible exception of those romantic interests, I think that goes for anyone you contact with an overflowing inbox!


ManUP today for success tomorrow…

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