Home Job Search Recovering from a Bad E-mail

Recovering from a Bad E-mail

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‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am trying to recover from a bad communication with a potential employer. I am an unemployed physicist trying to move out of physics and seek work as a data analyst. Upon sending a resume, I got a response that said:

“I’m glad to see you are also a Toastmaster.

When I read your resume, I can’t help but wonder two things. First, can we keep you challenged; and second, how much compensation are you looking for?”

Sadly, I replied with the following very bad e-mail:

“To alleviate your concerns, my interest in doing data analysis would keep me engrossed in this position. Concerning compensation, I would be content to receive the industry norm for this field, as posted in your posting, which is similar to what I received as a physicist.”

It’s been two days, and I haven’t heard anything, so I thought I would send her a recovery e-mail, but I don’t know what to include. — Tina

Dale: Don’t be too hard on yourself — it wasn’t a BAD e-mail. The hiring manager asked a pair of useless questions, and you gave expected answers. (The questions are useless because who is going to say, “Yes, I’ll soon be bored witless and resenting the stinking pay, and I’ll be looking to slide out as soon as I can”?) On the other hand, yours wasn’t a great response, mainly because of missed opportunities.

J.T.: Sure, it would have been nice to make a personal connection by following up on the Toastmasters comment. And yes, there might have been some more-convincing answers to her questions. However, remember the purpose of every resume and application: Get to the next step, the interview. So the real missed opportunity was how eager you are to meet in person and explain why the challenge and salary are not issues. What you need to do now is call and say that after sending off your response, you realized you didn’t fully explain yourself. So, instead of filling up her e-mail inbox with another note, you thought you’d call and ask for a meeting to explain how it could be a huge win-win for both parties. Pick up the phone and get the meeting.

Dale: Notice, Tina, that J.T. said “get the meeting,” not “get the job.” Don’t put all that pressure on yourself by thinking that you’re going to call and persuade the person to hire you. Just move things forward, get the meeting, and then make sure you’re the best-prepared person the hiring manager has ever spoken to. That’s what you can control, and that’s how you should evaluate your performance as a job applicant.


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Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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