How Not to Follow Up

You probably already know that you should send a follow-up. And you’ve probably heard that persistence pays off. But where’s the line between staying on the radar—and becoming a pest?

Here’s a job seeker who crosses the line by a mile. While this script writer scores a few early points by following up with a new connection immediately, and including a summary of key experience and achievements, his follow-up quickly derails when he finds out that the development team is too busy to take on new projects at this time. Instead of bowing out gracefully as promised, this job seeker makes a series of missteps that entirely burns the bridge with his new connection–and likely with the entire company. Luckily, you can learn from his mistakes.

Here are 5 of the biggest follow-up mistakes to avoid:

  1. Rambling — Keep your first follow-up email as short as possible. You probably don’t need more than one paragraph to get your point across: remind the person how you met and why you’re interested in keeping in touch. Add a brief line reiterating your skills and experience, and don’t forget to thank them for their time.
  2. Negativity — Don’t downplay your own abilities and achievements. Even if you’re exploring a new field with little experience, stay positive and focus on your strengths. How can you translate your skills from one area to another? How would this person benefit from having you in their network? Keep your outlook bright, and you’ll make a positive impact.
  3. Being Overly Confident — On the other hand, there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness (and our dear script writer crosses it right around “It’s no time for false modesty, I think you will be blown away by all of them.”) Avoid making assumptions on behalf of the other person–let them form their own opinions of you and your experience. Just as you would in your cover letter or resume, back up all your statements with facts from your experience and work history.
  4. Getting Defensive — This should really go without saying, but don’t question your connection’s opinion of your experience/skills/work by getting defensive – or even aggressive. Whether or not you agree with your contact’s opinions or advice, act like you’re taking their thoughts into consideration. Better to have a bruised ego than a burned bridge–and you just might learn what you need to do to get noticed.
  5. Not Accepting “No” — Sometimes no matter how well you think things are going, you wind up in the Rejected pile. Rather than trying to force the issue, thank the person once more for their time, ask if they could please keep you in mind for future opportunities, and bow out gracefully. But—and here’s the key!—actually bow out gracefully. Don’t email your contact four or five more times, and certainly do not insult them.

Avoid these (surprisingly common) follow-up missteps, and you’ll be more likely to make a lasting connection that could lead to the career move you’ve always imagined.


  1. I have found that many employers give no reason or explanation if you aren’t hired. Wish they’d realize that feedback can he beneficial.

  2. Employed 20 plus years w no intentions to retire until age 100 healthcare worker also LMT (PCT/ C na/Advanced HHA and RMA Registered Medical Assistant)… All that education ran up bills owed to Dept of Ed so how can anyone afford not to work plus its ethical and morally right to ask not what country can do for me but what can I do for my country tis of thee sweet land of liberty well not for our Vets who deserve it most but congress who spend loads of tax dollars I work hard to give to those in charge who really do not desrve my time of day,I have the right as a very disgusted hard worker in USA so I demand all of us get it together! And these “conservatives and leftists to stop whining; and as for all you other governments get your acts together and work your behinds off before you need to be in nursing homes galore wave of the future!

  3. May I expound further and be not pithy at all I do not watch TV news at all anymore, both USA and Russian and other hater governments only spread horrifying propaganda to keep its people depressed! Ban TV watching, keep your kids away so their brains do not “mush out” or become “mushroomed out” Kids who are not exposed to TV are the future great leaders like my kids who BTW make genius brains look like nothing. Both my sons raised on a farm commune in California with NO EXPOSURE to greed, envy, stress, strife, plagues, laziness, false pride, foolishness, trailor park Jerry Springer crapola, lewdness, unnatural behaviors like drug addictions, alcoholism, anger, etc and no gay hater behavior, only natural food grown by our own hands. they actually played outside with no fear of stranger abduction, we kept our lives free of stress and all the baloney most fools live with until their father died. Now I am older but energetic. I still wake up milk the goats and cows feed chickens and tend the gardens and work 12 hours a day in health care so give my kind a break we want to live in the earth as it is meant to be, not polluted by haters, greedy mongers and tribes who spread disease and sickness and hell.

  4. As a Massage Therapist Dually licensed and educated I find the east meets west philosophy best expresses the “Magic of Chi ” as this: I work, I eat , I sleep , I pray, I study, I live , I love I learn and in due time find my way.
    To give another human being or our beasts of burden the gift of feeling better is all I can do to assist nature’s way of giving back my dues in this life.
    Education and hard work=nation of very healthy , wealthy, and wise individuals.

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