Polite Persistence

Rachel Howell
June 24, 2014
At a recent CV/Resume Drop-In Clinic, a postdoc asked us about the correct procedure for following up with an alumnus who had agreed to look at his resume. The postdoc felt the in-person interaction was worthwhile, but the alumnus had not responded to the email. Should he email again if he doesn’t hear anything? 
“Polite persistence” is a great slogan when making decisions about communication with a new contact. Put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re contacting. Maybe they had a rough week with a busy schedule. Perhaps their inbox has gone unattended due to some work/life balance issues. Whatever the reason, a polite reminder is not overbearing. Most times, the contact will appreciate the poke!
Space out correspondence after the initial meeting, forward the old email with a one-line message (“Hi! Just checking to see if you received the below email.”), and then leave it at that! Perhaps connecting on LinkedIn a few weeks later will be another reminder to the new contact that you want to connect. But if you don’t hear back after “polite pestering,” then let it go. Sometimes the connection was not meant to be!
Yet, oftentimes you will find that contacts appreciate your correspondence when handled kindly and respectfully.