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Today I wanted to contact one of my old professors. My alma mater doesn’t provide alumni e-mail access, although they are considerate enough to forward our old e-mail addresses to a new account. That’s nice, but it’s not enough. If Google can offer Gmail for free, why can’t a University that just got $100k+ from me let me keep my .edu e-mail address in perpetuity? I mean, it’s not that I really want to receive e-mails at that address (which I basically can with forwarding), but that I want to be able to send from the .edu address because of its ability to dodge spam filters. I don’t spam people, but sometimes e-mail servers or mail clients might think my e-mail looks like spam.
When you’re job hunting, there are a lot of different people you might need to contact. A former professor. One of your parents’ friends who is going to get you an interview. A friend of friend, who graduated two years ahead of you and now works in your dream job. The hiring manager at a company you’re interviewing with. E-mail is an effective way to reach these “loose ties,” because you’re not invading their space. They can reply on their terms. The problem with e-mail is that people can just not respond. They can delete your e-mail. They can leave it their inbox and accidentally forget about it. Or they might never get it because it’s marked as spam. Even worse, you have no way of knowing if they ignored you, or never received the mail you sent. We want to help you make sure that your e-mails actually get delivered to their intended recipients. If they’re ignoring you, that’s your problem.
Once you’ve established a first contact with someone through e-mail, their spam filter will usually allow any future e-mails between you. This depends on a lot of factors, so it may not work for everyone. Still, our goal is to establish that first contact so that you can get the conversation going and get a job. Here are some things to do if your first attempt at e-mail gets no response.
1. Don’t Get Flagged: Avoid things that might make your e-mail look like spam, such as: adding attachments, sending from an unrecognized domain, using links in the e-mail, swearing, using brand names of male enhancement products, dollar signs, or other spammy terms, sending from a server that doesn’t match the domain name (your outgoing mail server needs to match the domain name of your e-mail address), or sending from a foreign country (another bummer for international students).
2. Facebook Friend Them: They’ll either get the Facebook notification in their e-mail (and hopefully not ignore it) or they’ll see the friend request when they login. Then you can tell them by Facebook message that you thought you were having issues with the spam filter and establish an e-mail dialogue.
3. Add Them as A Connection on LinkedIn: Pretty much the same as above.
4. Use a Contact Form: I recently used this tip to contact a staff member at my alma mater. The first time I tried to e-mail her, I didn’t get through to her for some reason. This time I used a contact form, and because the school server sent her the e-mail on my behalf, she got it and replied right away. Now she gets my e-mails.
5. Get a Gmail Account: Gmail seems to be pretty good at getting through filters compared to other free e-mail services like Yahoo! or Hotmail. Your .edu e-mail address is better, but if your school is like mine, they’ll take it away as soon as they can.
6. Ask Someone to Make an E-mail Introduction: If your intended recipient e-mails you first, your reply to them will be much more likely to make it through their spam filters.
7. Give Them a Call: If all else fails, the telephone always works. You can just tell them that you’re having trouble reaching them by e-mail and ask them to check their spam box, or you can have the conversation that you were intending to initiate by e-mail.
Remember, only try these tips if you are pretty certain that the person receiving your e-mails won’t be irritated by them. If they’re not responding to you, it might be for a reason.
Do you have any tips that help you get around spam filters? Share them in the comments section.
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