Unanswered E-mail Follow Up

Follow Up Tips: What To Do When Your E-mail Goes Unanswered


A friend, Glenn, passed me this great article about the anxiety people experience when an e-mail goes unanswered. It talks about how our minds start racing with thoughts about what could be wrong. In short, we see “no news” as bad news.

E-mail Panic = Even Worse With Job Seekers

Anxiety from unanswered e-mails is especially prominent in job seekers. At least once a day, a client contacts me in a frustrated panic because the e-mail they sent days ago to a colleague, perspective networking contact, online application, recruiter, and so on hasn’t been answered. Each time, I walk them through the three tips that should be followed to increase the chances we get a response. They are:

1. Wait One Full Business Week Before Following Up

While it feels like months to you, to the person you sent the e-mail to, a week feels like a day. If they didn’t answer you yet, it just means you weren’t viewed as needing an immediate response. It doesn’t mean they are saying “no” to your request, they are just saying “not now.”

2. Never Send A Nudge On A Monday

Even the happiest of people feel a little off on Mondays. We call it the Weekend Flu, you might call it the Monday Blues. Regardless, it puts people in a mood to say “no” more quickly. So, even if it’s been a full business week, if it’s Monday – don’t do anything.

3. Send Value Next Time, Not Another Request For Help

When you finally do follow up, don’t send a, “Just wanted to check in and see if you got my request…” note. That’s like taking a hot poker and pushing it in their back. They know they haven’t responded to you, and they most likely don’t feel good about it. They don’t need you to point it out.

Instead, find an article online that you think they would find interesting and pass it along with a simple note like this: “Saw this article and thought of you – hope you enjoy it!” That’s it. You’ll be respected for your restraint from asking the obvious. Moreover, you’ll be appreciated for offering up something of professional value. As they say, you gotta give to get!

Follow the tips above and I guarantee more of your e-mails will get answered. While some may still ultimately say “no,” or never respond, the chances the folks who failed to respond initially will finally follow up increases when you are patient, polite, and most importantly, focused on helping them, too.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. My follow up is a bit different. I applied for a position and was called in for 2 interviews. A week later I received a phone call from them stating they filled the position BUT considered me for a NEW AND UPCOMING POSITION that they needed to iron out some of the details.
    She also stated that she would be out the following week for vacation so I sent her an email, the Monday of her return, keeping in mind some of the other advice I’ve seen in the past, that I had some ideas I’d like to share…
    However, I didn’t read this until now, so ok Monday was probably a bad idea. But how do I still let them know I’m excited about this position? It’s been a few weeks now. I last heard from her on April 3rd. I sent her the email April 14… 5pm (before they close) and I still haven’t heard anything.

    • Another email or phone call couldn’t hurt. You’ve given her plenty of time, since it’s been two weeks since your last message, and you haven’t heard from her in almost a month.

  2. You would think those of us who use PROPER spelling, grammar and punctuation would have a heads up on those who don’t.

    I suspect however that we are being viewed as being too prim and proper and therefore TOO OLD for today’s market.

    I shudder to think where English is going thanks to texting and Twitter.

  3. R, u some sought ah idiot oh what???? First of all nothin is wrong with my spelling, n u need to comprehend typin jargon.. (AKA text short hand) yuh dont kno about that huh???? so u need to shut the hell up.. my writin have no spelling errors…. If u arent gonna say somethin 2 add value not try 2 humuliate someone who is probably more educated than ur dunse a–!!!!

    • Are you for real or is this a joke? If you are for real, I feel very sorry for you and even more sorry if you’re a university grad.f

      • Yes I am fo rel and like I said b4 write somethin that add value rather than worry about my typin!!!! I’m gettin ahead…. so read d posts shut d hell up and post somethin that makes sense…. ok!! cause rediculing my post arent gonna get u a job… lmao!!!Pay attention to the changes in the job market rather than me…. and yes I am a university graduate with a 3.83 GPA.. that is highly recognized….So there 4 I feel sorry 4 u..lmao J–A.

        • Good for you having such a high GPA. Did you write your own papers using that type of “language” or pay someone to do it for you, in proper English.

          Since you feel your style is acceptable when looking for a job, does anyone respond positively?

          Recruiters: would you accept an email from someone using texting “language”?

          • U r really stupid! I feel sorry for you bcause do u really think people write to recruiters this way…. and for the record if u know ur stuff I dont deal with recruiters I deal with SME, I have champions in my target orgs and hiring managers thats y I have offers on the table n u have none…LMAO!! u will never get a job cause of ur arrogance!! ur not flexible to society.. n this is my last response to you…cause I look jus as stupid communicating with u, n for the record, I wrote all my thesis… n got all A’s n I also write Resumes and get paid… and all who I wrote resumes for including meh volunteer work is gainfully employed… so know ur role dunse!

      • STB03: Your post makes absolutely no sense. And if, by chance, you’re knocking J.T. in any way (her professionalism, advice, feedback, suggestions or general expertise), back-off child. She is one of the Top 2 to 3 career professionals/bloggers on LinkedIn. We are lucky to have J.T., so feel sorry for yourself, not this talented expert.

        If you were knocking someone else, then work on your communication skills (they are clearly lacking).

    • bennettovnikolai

      DD, your texting language is one thing, but if I were an employer, I wouldn’t hire purely on the basis that you’re an arrogant prick. How’s that for adding value to the conversation?

      • Thank you bennettovnikolia! Thank you! Thank you! You’ve proven everything I’ve been saying. Have a great day!

        I’m doing everything right — I check grammar, spelling and punctuation to ensure it is correct. I personalize cover letters including contact name (if known), company name, job description and anything else I believe will get me in the door. All to no avail.

        DD’s feedback me thinking, despite what I’ve been told about using proper language, etc, that maybe I was doing something wrong.

  4. I’ve had this happened. On numerous occassions and there is nothing you can do because if someone don’t wanna answer you they just won’t! You can share what ever! I’ve been out of work for a while and have stopped worrying because there are position opened three years not filled. All these articles is over kill cause everyone has something to say to make people feel they not doing what they should to land a job there are no jobs especially quality jobs! The kinda jobs out there is one and two week assignment for $15 an hour cause a perm employee want vacation and they need someone to warm the cubicle for that period! This aren’t designed to benefit the job seeker! Look @ the quality out there and you will determine the situation. I’ve done every thing position to find work and is still unsuccessful!

    • DD,

      I suggest an English writing class or perhaps a class on proof reading your work would help your situation. You have several errors in grammar and spelling throughout your comment. A prospective employer will notice these types of errors right away and it may be costing you an opportunity.

      Best of Luck,


  5. This has happened more times than I care to admit when it came to people who PROMISED to help me. No response or follow-up tells me they only PRETENDED to care.

    • They don’t care they are liars and you have to ignore them! I’ve had this happened on numerous occassisons, even people promise to help you set up dates with you and you never hear back. My reasons for this are the following: 1. They have nothing to offer and lying to impress. 2. They blatently not helping because their professional life is in limbo n have to worry about it!

    • Usually when people make the promise, they mean it. However when your request actually comes, it may be just bad timing with what is going on in their personal and professional lives. We are all overly busy; likely the people we are asking for help are even busier…cut them some slack and try the tips above. I will wager that and a more positive attitude will make a difference for you.

      • I understand that people are busy. I follow-up 2-3 times using polite language as well as proper grammar, spelling and punctuation and never get a response. That tells me they don’t want to help and they said they would it was just to seem nice.

        Rather than RESPONDING to say “sorry but I can’t help you at this time” or something similar my emails and phone calls go unanswered.

        • STB03, these people hve no manners because we take the time out to get prepared to meet with them, not to mention spend money to get there and look professional the least they can do is respond with common courtesy! thats unacceptable. How busy can one be??? they are not busy when they pick up the phone to call you to bring you in…..u r soo correct…

          • Let me get this straight, DD! You’re complaining about other people’s lack of manners. However, I see you write statements in the comment section in anger. Last time I check, you don’t 2nd chances to make 1st impressions. In addition, you failed to understand that sending messages with multiple spelling errors is bad manners in and of itself. Ever heard of spell check? If you technique was good, then how come I keep hearing you complain about it in a public forum? Here’s an idea! Take the same time and energy you spent responding to everyone’s reply and redirect it at improving your communication.

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