Sponsored: Katy Lederer answers readers’ questions
Lederer is a recruiter and workplace expert
MAYBE you’re a freelancer. Maybe you’re trying to get a freelancer’s attention. Either way, getting to inbox sanity is a slippery exercise.
Q: As a freelance writer, I work from home. Many of my “work associates” are either people who email me ideas or people I email ideas to. Multiple times a day, I receive follow-up emails from members of category A. Sometimes they’re checking in on something they sent mere hours ago. I get enough of these emails that I cannot respond to every one, otherwise my entire workday would be spent writing missives like “Sorry, not interested”.
Of course, I find myself on the other end of this hellish pitch cycle when I send follow-up emails to job prospects, usually no sooner than three days after sending my last note.
Both pose the question: what is a reasonable amount of time to wait before sending a follow-up email?
A: There is actually a simple answer to your question.
First, get a second email account. Give the new address to anyone who pitches to you.
Second, write an out-of-office message: “Hello there. Thank you for your query. I do my best to respond to every pitch, but it can take me up to three days to do so. If your message is time-sensitive, please write ‘time-sensitive’ in the subject line and resend. If you have not heard from me within three days, you can assume that your pitch is not a fit for me right now.”
When it comes to your own pitches, three days seems a good interval to me, though you should certainly write “time-sensitive” in the subject line if three days will be too long to wait. Make sure it’s not a holiday or the manager hasn’t been fired since you first pitched.
Q: I like the people at work, the hours aren’t bad, the office is pretty nice, etc. But I hate my job and really resent going to work every day. My real passion is being a playwright. I can’t help but think that if I didn’t have this job, I’d get a lot more writing done.
I feel embarrassed when I tell people what it is I do for a living and worry that they’ll think less of me. I know that’s stupid, but it is affecting my self-esteem.
How do you know when it is time to quit your day job or how do you keep up your day job and keep your head up at the same time?
A: Your worries are not stupid. Many people that you know and meet will think less of you. Any excuse to feel even a little bit better than someone else, right?
Because who knows what’s going on with them. Maybe they have sacrificed everything to follow their dreams, let alone subsist on all the writing they produce daily.
Maybe they meet you at a party. You say you have a day job, but instead of stating proudly that you work in a fine office with kind colleagues that you actually like, you act like an impostor. After the party, they go home and gossip to friends that you’re a sell-out and a fool. Their friends outwardly agree with them, even though they know inside your writing’s actually really good, day job or not.
In fact, everybody knows inside your writing is actually really good, but no one will admit it.
Trust me, the people who despise you and talk about you behind your back would like nothing more than for you to actually stop writing. It would validate their choices and it would also reduce the field by one body.
But don’t give them what they want, okay? Just keep writing and just keep putting yourself out there.
Bitter writing can be good. Angry writing can be really good. And writing about soul-crushing day jobs has produced some genuine theatrical masterpieces.
Q: Should you follow your interviewer on Twitter after a job interview? Or is that weird?
A: No, you should not. But it wouldn’t be that weird if you did, either.
Think upside and downside. What will be the upside if you follow this person? You read this person’s random take on current affairs and…?
The downside is that there is a small but non-zero chance that they think you’re creepy or annoying.
If you think the interview went well, just leave it at that. Always leave them wanting more.
This article first appeared in The New York Times