Samara O'Shea

This E-mail Will Self Destruct

True story: I was applying for a job a few months back. I dutifully e-mailed my cover letter and resume and, once they were sent, immediately came up with my “follow-up” plan. The listing specifically said, “No phones calls,” so I scratched that idea but then I thought What good does it do to follow-up with an e-mail if you haven’t received a response to your first e-mail? I decided to follow-up with a note. I really did. It was a short handwritten note (thank-you note sized) that said something along the lines of, “I hope this finds you well. I sent my cover letter and resume a few days ago, and I’d very much like to have the chance to meet with you.” I’m sure I reiterated my interest in the position, too, and also wrote my e-mail address at the bottom. You get the idea. I mailed the note the same day I e-mailed my resume—planning it so she’d receive it two or three days later. Done and done.

The following week I received an e-mail from the hiring editor saying she received my note but not my e-mail. Apparently, the e-mail went straight into her spam file (um, G-mail what’s up with that?) The real live note, however, got to her and she then wrote and asked me to re-send my official papers. Isn’t that cool? I didn’t get the job. But who cares. Had I not sent my note I would have had no shot whatsoever at the job—completely unbeknownst to me. I sent the e-mail and received nothing from my good friend Mailer Daemon saying it wasn’t delivered. I would have sat and wondered. My follow-up note alleviated the wondering.

Think this was a freak accident? Think again. This past weekend, The New York Times did a nice write up on this very problem—sometimes e-mails really just don’t go through: IN THE E-MAIL RELAY, NOT EVERY HANDOFF IS SMOOTH