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Sometimes, I —or other people I know— send an email someone —or a team— in an professional setting and never get an answer.

  • How should that situation be handled?
  • Should I double down after a couple of days and try to force an answer? Either trying to contact by phone or sending a second email?
  • Isn't considered impolite and unprofessional not to answer emails, even if it's with a quick-one-phrase answers?

I swear to god that I always try to be as polite as concise and polite as possible, and my language skills allow me.

Last time case scenario:

I sent an email to the posters of a position I'm interested in about some questions I have, and if could make them over the phone. I thought phone was easier, quicker and less dry. In the position's post was clearly stated that you can contact them to ask questions.

After two days, I was able to get the phone of one of them by other channels and contact him over the phone to have a nice and short conversation about the position. Anyhow, the other one never replied to my questions.

Wouldn't have been more professional to just answer with a quick "I'm sorry. I'm busy now. Contact me in a couple of days." or something like that?

Some additional info:

Cultural Differences

I'm a South European living in the Nordics, and although I've seen this behavior all around, I think it's specially strong here in the up North. I'm not saying that in the south everyone is really polite and answer swiftly to all the emails, but I don't know.

For me the impression is I'm receiving is, you are not important enough to lose 30' of my time on answering. And I mention just answering because I want to think that at least they read them.

English Skills

Sometimes I also think that Nordic people, specially Finns, are shy about their English skills —even when those are really good— and they delay as much as possible talk or write in English. However, I've come across with behavior also in the US, where of course, English is not a problem.


PS/ As someone has pointed out my question has been partially answered here: What is appropriate email follow-up etiquette after no response?, but I'm more focus on the professionalism of the lack of response, than in the methodology to finally get an answer.

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    Are those emails about you seeking a job with the company that doesn't respond, or am I misreading the question? – Tymoteusz Paul Feb 5 at 12:42
  • @TymoteuszPaul Emails could be for really different topics… from asking about some data to do a project or to have an informal meeting about something. – lpuerto Feb 5 at 13:04
  • @gnat well it answer the question partially. Still don't know if this is an acceptable behavior. – lpuerto Feb 5 at 13:14
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    @gnat Anyhow I'm going to mark my question as duplicated, since perhaps if it's or not professional is more an opinion than a fact. Thanks! – lpuerto Feb 5 at 13:17
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    The ettiquette about responding to emails asking about jobs is completely different from the ettiquette for responding to emails about other matters. If this is about job applications please say so in the question. – DJClayworth Feb 5 at 16:41
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Isn't considered impolite and unprofessional not to answer emails

Wouldn't have been more professional to just answer with a quick "I'm sorry. I'm busy now. Contact me in a couple of days." or something like that?

Yes, but the costs of mild unprofessionalism are extremely low to the individual, especially when the person they are corresponding with is not their manager. What gets measured, watched, and/or rewarded is what gets done and replying to people outside the daily workflow is none of those.

I just resend the request and usually that shamed people into replying.

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This needs a little more clarity. What kind of email and who are you sending to?

If the email's are send to someone withing in you organization (internal) and are related to something you need from the recipient then then of course you expect a response. Send a second request (maybe cc their supervisor) or even pick up the phone and call.

Now for those "outside" (such as to the posters for a position) - just because you send an email does not mean you should expect a response. I've been in positions (thankfully not in my current position) where I could get 1,000+ emails a day. Spending even 30 seconds responding to each one would have taken 500 minutes (over eight hours). I'm sorry but your request is going to the bottom of the pile.

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  • I mean for outside of the organization, of course. If someone inside of your organization is not replying your emails, you have a really big problem, Either him or you. – lpuerto Feb 5 at 19:47
  • In relation of I was receiving more than 1000 emails… I really feel that you need a good filtering and email managing skills, and them, if you really have than mail volume, you need to ask for help and clearly your position rethought and slip into two positions. I really think that we've forgot at some point that we are dealing with humans here. – lpuerto Feb 5 at 19:51
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I am not sure what kind of questions you are asking but it sounds like the other person probably considers them to be frivolous.

If your skills match the job posting then you apply; simple.

If they want to interview you then it usually starts with a phone call and during that time you can vent anything which you think would disqualify you from the position.

I'm certain that the person on the other end only wants to deal with people that are interested in the position rather than wasting time to help someone figure out whether they are interested. If you want the latter then get in touch with a reputable recruiter.

By sending these pre-questions you are presenting yourself as a person that could be needy and requires much hand-holding which to their benefit lets them know they are better off not interviewing you.

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  • First of all the posting was quite vague. Second, they stated that questions could be asked if candidates had them. Third, applying to all the jobs that you think match your skills is how we've ended with overloaded HR departments that don't select the correct candidates of only do on paper. – lpuerto Feb 5 at 18:34
  • PS/ I've been recruiter before, and I always answered questions because it's normal that people have them. Not to mention that if a prospect candidate have questions and they are good, it makes the candidate even a better one. If you don't have time for recruiting relay in someone or at least don't pose. – lpuerto Feb 5 at 18:38

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