Email anxiety is very real, especially in the contemporary job search. With people accessible at our every beckoning call due to the preponderance of communication technology, waiting for a reply is even more anxiety-ridden today. In the modern career search, it can be extremely tempting to ping the people you are trying to get in contact with. As much as it may seem like consistently reaching out keeps you top-of-mind, it actually puts you bottom-of-the-trash-can. Incessantly flooding someone’s inbox is not only unproductive, but also rude. However, the artfully-crafted follow-up email can distinguish you from a crowd of applicants.
Every applicant is trying to shine through a stack of resumes, and reaching out to your connections is one way to distinguish yourself – if done well. Whether you’re following up with a connection after a coffee date or the HR rep after an interview, crafting the perfect follow-up message is truly an art. Follow these tips to prepare a meaningful message that builds a connection.
Nail Your Follow-Up Email Using These Tips
Consider the Objective of Your Email
Ultimately, you want your email to elicit some sort of reaction from the reader. Are you requesting information or a status update? Are you trying to set up a time to connect in person? Maybe you’re simply thanking them or catching up. Either way, bring the intention to the forefront of your email. Do not make it a guessing game, but sure to address your purpose in reaching out.
Give Context to Your Background
More likely than not, the person you’re emailing is fairly busy. Especially individuals who work in HR, who are faced with a constant stream of new faces and names. Giving context to how you are connected with someone will help them remember the interactions with you. Re-introduce yourself in the first line of your email in order to strengthen the connection you have with the reader. “Hi, my name is [Name] and we connected last month…”
Apply the KISS Rule
In elementary school writing classes, you were probably taught some iteration of the KISS Rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Later in life, the keep it simple rule still applies when writing professional documents and correspondence. Many people think that writing a lengthy email will demonstrate their enthusiasm and thoroughness. This is not that case, as novel-esque emails are burdensome to the reader. Your reader’s time is valuable, and a concise follow-up email respects that. Try to be as succinct as possible and keep it to about a two-paragraph maximum. Lengthy paragraphs often demand an in-depth response. A terse message will demand a much simpler response, thus increasing your chances of hearing back from the recipient.
Follow-Up at the Perfect Time
Following up too soon after the initial contact is also a way to communicate that you do not respect someone’s time. A next-day follow-up email message conveys that you think you are the recipient’s only priority at the moment. Be sure to include a quick blurb that indicates you understand the importance of their attention with something like, “I know you have a busy schedule but I was wondering if…” Give the recipient a solid window of time before initiating a follow-up message. Be sure to consider when the recipient’s business hours are and any holidays.
Get to the Subject (Line)
Whatever you do, do not use a generic subject line on your follow-up email such as “Hello Again” or worse yet, “Just Checking In”. Boring titles are a one-way ticket to getting ignored. Instead, empower your subject line by being as specific as possible. A subject line is essentially a way of introducing your email. A well-crafted subject line will communicate to the reader the content of the attached email.
Don’t Come On Too Strong
You’re trying to exude confidence and enthusiasm, but turn that dial just a notch too far and you’ll come off as arrogant and demanding. When people flag their emails as being important, when they clearly are not high-priority for the reader, it is a bold move that is rarely well-received. Also avoid coming off as passive aggressive a line like, “I thought I would reach out since I hadn’t heard from you…” which seems confrontational. Worse yet, marking your email as important is an arrogant faux-pas that will send you directly to the electronic circular file.
Proofread, Then Proofread Again
This may seem like a straightforward tip, but an unbelievable amount of people send off emails that are riddled with errors. Grammatical errors can instantly kill your candidacy for a position, so navigate proofreading your follow-up email with extreme precision. Additionally, double-check for other possible errors. Did you spell the recipient’s name correctly? Are you using the proper titles? Though these errors may seem minor, they can be the difference between unemployment and an offer. The most important thing to remember is every point of contact you have with a company is an interview. Even your interactions that you have online are exchanges that are shaping your attractiveness as a hire.
For most of us, some of the most high-stakes writing we have to produce is during our job search. Writing professional documents takes a delicate balance of clarity, description, and creativity. For many of us, it’s easier for us to complete complex tasks than it is for us to describe the process itself. Talking about yourself objectively is one of the hardest things we can be tasked with as humans, our nature is inherently subjective. If you struggle with writing professional documents, you are not alone. Vocamotive, Inc. services the Chicagoland area as the authority on professional document creation and executive career consultation. Mention this article and receive 15% off our resume writing services!