I recently got a phone call (they left a message) telling me a position had opened up and if I was still interested. Within a minute of that message, they also sent an e-mail simply restating the message, asking if I was interested.

I responded to the e-mail instead of calling back because:

  1. I already had it pulled up.
  2. I prefer communicating via e-mail for these things because it gives me a way to have a reference to what was said.

My question is, if given both a phone message and an e-mail, does it really matter which one is responded to? I don't really mean in terms of communicating, but in etiquette terms. Is there an unwritten rule about this?

4 Answers 4


Typically you would respond back with whatever communication medium they initiate with. If they reach out using two methods, they've given you the opportunity to pick. I would say you made the right call by going with the email since it's your preferred method.

The only circumstance I could see being frowned upon would be if they only contacted you by phone, and you responded via email without the prompt. I think that would be poor etiquette, because the person contacting you had a preference and you ignored it. But when people use multiple methods to contact you, they're clearly comfortable with either.


I would think about it like this: What if somebody else got the same call as you and responded via phone call? They automatically have spoken to the recruiter, and in my eyes, have one-up'd me. Usually what I do in situations such as this is I will send the email verifying that I'm still interested and if I have not heard anything by the next day I will generally call the recruiter and say "Hi, this is [Your Name], I got a call from [Whoever] about a potential job offer. I emailed them but I just wanted to verify the email was received and perhaps speak with [Whoever] about the job offer."

The reason I would do this is that many emails get buried. Quickly. Your email may not be seen by the recruiter for who knows how long.

Good luck!


I have had this happen to me many times. Get a call from a recruiter who leaves a message and also sends me an email with the job information.

9 times out of 10 when I actually talk to recruiters I have them send me the email with the job description any way so they saved me a step.

After talking to the recruiter or receiving an email I will review the position. If after reviewing the position I find I have no interest, I will normally shoot them an email back thanking them for their time and why the position would not be a fit (This accomplishes 2 things says yes I am alive and this is what would should send me if you want me to change jobs). If the position is one I would like to follow up on I will also communicate via both methods. Depending on the time of day/my availability I will email back after reading the description that I would like to talk further about the position. When I have more time to talk and ask questions about the position I will call to follow up.

If I know it will be several hours to the next day before I can call them I always email. If I decide I am going to call them back at the next break I have I will forego the email and just call. Of course if I get their VM I will leave a message and send the email.

As far as an unwritten rule, I will normally go with one contact method over the other depending on how fast I want to get a response (read desperately unemployed I am). If they have called and emailed I feel they have said either method is now fine. I may send an email back and then follow up with a phone call, but eventually if I want to pursue the position I will need to talk to the recruiter in person or over the phone.


What unwritten rule? You emailed them back, and that should be good enough. Email them again tomorrow morning "Just following up" and follow with a phone call gain the morning after tomorrow morning - if you haven't heard from them, that is. Recruiters usually move pretty fast, especially those recruiters that work on commission.

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