What’s the Best Day to Email?

best day to emailWhen is the best day to email someone?  Reader M wonders about this when she’s had a job interview and needs to send her follow-up email…

Imagine that I’m corresponding with someone about a job — potential boss, hiring manager, whomever. The ball’s been in their court for a week. It’s now Friday afternoon. Am I better emailing them today, or waiting until Monday? Or should I even wait until Tuesday, considering that Monday is a busy day?

In general, what day of the week do you think gets the most results? Or is it more the wording of the email that counts?

For my $.02, the simple answer is Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. Pictured: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… originally uploaded to Flickr by gak.

Here’s my reasoning:  No matter how the email is worded, the thing you have to realize is that you are creating work for the recipient.  They may have to check the status of your application.  Maybe they need to check the status of other applications.  Maybe they need to check with the hiring committee.  Even if it’s a straight answer — let’s say a no — they need to give your interview folder one final look-see before they reject you, and then write a politely-worded email.  Any or all of these tasks will likely take more than the two minutes most people allocate to on the spot answers, which means this task (responding to your email) will end up on their to-do list.

The other thing you have to realize is that a potential job applicant is sort of tertiary to someone’s job, especially from the “year end review” perspective.  Even if you’re emailing someone in the hiring business (e.g., a recruiter), you rank below the people paying their salary and bills: the boss and clients.  This particular task may even factor below the small, unpleasant tasks that one has to do to keep the office running such as ordering business cards, reviewing the last phone bill, etc.

So let’s look at workflow — when do people do small tasks that are low on their to do list?

– Not Friday afternoons — they’re eager to wrap things up and get out of the office.

– Not Monday morning.  In fact, not any workday morning — in my experience, most people spend workday mornings doing triage, filtering through the emails that have come in since you left work, figuring out which ones are urgent, and prioritizing the rest accordingly.  I would avoid Monday afternoon as well because it’s such a busy day.

– I would avoid Thursday afternoons as well.  While those may be OK for some people, but I think a lot of people have already started their “wrap up” process by then, which means your email may sit until the next time they’re doing non-urgent emails — which might mean you’d wait until Tuesday afternoon.

… which leaves us with my $.02 answer: Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon.

What do you think, readers — if you have the luxury of timing an email, what is the best day to send it?  Particularly in Reader M’s hypothetical job hiring scenario, when would you send the email?

Comments

  1. karenpadi :

    I would say any day in the later lunchtime time period (e.g., 1-2pm). I’m usually finishing lunch and convincing myself to start working again. A recruiting email is a welcome distraction.

    • Also, when do you email vs. phone call? And, when you don’t get a response, how many times should you try/ follow up again?

      • I think the conventional wisdom when it’s a hiring decision is: no more than two follow-ups.

      • karenpadi :

        No phone calls, please. Phone calls interrupt billable hours. Interrupting without good reason is rude. As a rule, job candidates don’t have good reasons until we’ve sent you an offer and you need more information before you accept.

        • I think this is a little overstated, it is not rude to call to check on the application. I def prefer receiving emails to answer on my own time though.

          • agreed wholeheartedly. also don’t think “sure” is rude — just informal. (and probably would come across better over the phone than in an email)

        • I would agree with this except that I’ve had a couple of instances where I had 2-3 interviews and then received no response after the most recent interview. It’s rude not to let me know about a decision when you say in the interview “we’ll be getting back to you early next week.” I don’t see why I can’t call to ask if the decision-making time frame has changed if that date comes and goes. (FWIW, I usually let a few extra days pass before making these calls; I know people are busy).

          • karenpadi :

            That’s fair. I was thinking from the perspective of an attorney. I know job candidates follow up with our recruiting coordinator over the phone. That’s OK–it’s her job to handle that.

            I wouldn’t call an attorney to follow up on an interview. For me, I’d probably direct a caller to our recruiting coordinator because she knows more than I do about the status of a candidate.

          • Email is just better. Phone calls are annoying and intrusive in this context for me. You are almost certainly calling me at a bad time, putting me on the spot. I might pick up thinking it is someone I really need to speak with and then I am stuck needing to get off the phone with you quickly. This might sound harsh, but you are better off emailing if it is really busy professionals. Phone calls- especially repeated ones- are often the first sign of a candidate revealing that they are a bit nutso, desperate, etc.- I had a guy leave me 4 vm’s that by the last one started talking about religion and other weird stuff. He was not going to get the job from the beginning (way more qualified people applied) but killed his chances of any lower level job in my group in the future.

            Re Kat’s post : generally agree on Tues/Wed., but this assumes routine. If it’s a busy type with varied projects, business travel, etc. there is no best way to predict. You might just time it from when you had the meeting with them or whatever triggers the want for more communication. Or contact their assistant instead.

  2. Pedicures :

    The comments yesterday about pedicures got me thinking: has anyone stopped getting pedicures because of the risk of infection?

    I got monthly pedicures for over a decade. The salon (part of a chain in southern California) where I go looks very clean, and the pedicurists scrub the built-in spa tubs with a brush between clients. (The chairs are the kind that have built-in massage and built-in spa tubs with jacuzzi jets.) But last summer, I got a terrible infection on both feet that required antibiotics from my dermatologist to kill.

    I did some research while I was convalescing, and I learned that the bacteria get caught in the inner workings of the jets. So unless someone circulates bleach or some other antiseptic liquid through the jets, and lets it sit in the jets long enough to kill everything, between each client, the jet spa is not really clean.

    I haven’t been back for a pedicure since.

    Anyone know anything about this or have any ideas?

    • I used to get pedicures, too and I’ve stopped going bc I’m paranoid of getting infections. And, I kinda hated getting them, too, and I wondered why I was torturing myself. So much better to get a massage and paint my tootsies at will.

    • Diana Barry :

      I go to a place where (1) they scrub out the sinks in between use and (2) they don’t use jets (bc of that issue). They also have all their instruments cleaned in between use, so they are pulling a new instrument out of the packaging every time.

    • I go to a great salon (Julep, for those in Seattle – they cater to “environmentally-friendly germophobes”) that refuses to use jets for that very reason. They use bowls that they sterilize and they use a purell-type thing on their hands and your feet/hands before working on you. They also do not reuse anything they can’t autoclave (files, nail brush, sticks, etc). I trust them, and I like that I can get pedis without being worried about the icky things that might be lurking.

      • I can recommend tenoverten for all NYC ladies looking for a safe, clean pedicure. They’re in Tribeca but are opening at the Le Parker Meridien uptown very soon.

    • I stopped getting pedicures because of this, but because I got the world’s grossest nail fungus right after a pedicure. I went for a pedicure at my clean, normal place. Everything was fine. When I went to take off the polish at home, about two weeks later, my big toe nail was fluorescent green. The green nail fungus lasted for over a year (and I tried everything, multiple doctor’s visits, etc.). Luckily I lived in New England at the time, so it wasn’t like I needed to wear flip flops. I eventually saw a different derm who suggested off label Diflucan and this cleared it up (and the derm warned me away from Lamisil, btw–said it was torture on your liver).

      So, yeah…the fear is real and my story is all true.
      What I learned from this–no matter how clean someone says their pedicure chairs are, I don’t believe them. I will only get pedicures as places that use “bowls” (no chair with jets).

      I insist (and look like a crazy person) that the manicurist get fresh tools straight out of the disinfectant/machine so there’s no chance of getting tools used on someone else.

    • I bought a Groupon for a mani-pedi and now I am afraid of getting the pedicure!

  3. Former MidLevel :

    I would email Monday morning. Even if–as Kat suggests–most people are doing triage, at least you will get on the list. Plus, at least in my experience at law firms, the morning is the calmest part of the day. I found out pretty quickly that emails sent to partners in the afternoons were more often overlooked or ignored because they day/clients/deadlines had gotten away from them. But other industries/types of offices may be different.

    • That’s my preference. I usually get into the office about an hour before I leave for court and take care of any emails waiting for me. During the afternoons, I run around like a chicken with its head cut off and emails get pushed to the back burner.

  4. personal finance :

    This morning’s post got me wondering…is there a corporette-esque personal finance blog out there?

  5. Diana Barry :

    Tuesday at 130 – I think Tuesday is the most productive day for how much people get done, and as karenpadi says, having an email come at the end of lunch is a good move.

  6. yet another family question :

    Since so many people here have experience dealing with dysfunctional family relationships, let me ask:

    Are my husband and I doing the right thing when his mother (my MIL) begins to lie to other people in a group about his brother and SIL?

    Background: My husband’s brother, and SIL have major problems. Everyone in the family except MIL has blocked their phone numbers – he was dishonorably discharged from the military for dealing drugs, she has been arrested twice and is on probation for burglary, and my husband and I have an active restraining order against them after they legitimately threatened to burn down our house while we were sleeping in it. They have broken into our in-laws house and stolen items and hundreds of dollars in cash and old coins. Currently, they live several hours away and refuse to talk to her unless they are calling to ask for money.
    She refuses to note the obvious. When we get together with our inlaws and go out to dinner or to an event, invariably – every single time – someone asks how F and B are doing, and she COMPLETELY makes up these crazy lies about specific wonderful things they are doing and how proud she is of them. In front of us.

    I know that she’s embarrassed about them, and that’s why she lies (because we have confronted her on this and she broke down crying on how embarrassed she is) but it is incredibly hurtful to us that she continues to do it – we’ve been though so much trouble as a result of them, and have spent thousands of dollars to install a security system and time lost from work to be in court, etc. Right now when she begins to tell a story to someone who comes up to us about how wonderful they are doing, and how proud of them she is, her husband just looks at the floor and doesn’t talk. We decided as a couple to simply walk away, even if that meant getting up from the table and walking across the restaurant. In private/if asked, my FIL tells the truth about them to people, but he stays silent in her presence.

    I feel very rude getting up and walking away in the middle of a conversation when a family friend comes to our table, and it is noticeably awkward, but I also cannot stand to even passively participate while she says things that are objectively false facts. FWIW, we live in the same small city that we both grew up in and have never, ever gone out to eat or to an event without running into someone we know.

    How would you handle this?

    • I do not think you and DH are doing the right thing. Your MIL knows how messed up they are, and she wants to save face. It’s bullying, and I also can’t see any way that you could walk away from someone who has stopped at your table to chat without it seeming rude. That said, if you’re all standing (at a c*cktail party or the like), I think it’s perfectly fine to excuse yourself.

      I think that instead of publicly embarassing her, you should privately have a conversation with her detailing how hurtful it is that she is so effusive in her praise of them, and ask her if she would tone it down in your presence (i.e., a simple – “they’re doing well, thanks”). Make it focused on how bad it makes you and DH feel, rather than a “you’re doing it wrong” conversation.

    • I would absolutely not do what you guys are doing. Yes, MIL isn’t telling the truth, but (1) you all know it, (2) it’s not hurting you [I know you say it does hurt, but I don’t understand why, and my family is comparably disfunctional], and (3) if you were instead to discuss the truth of their situation, nothing would change. I think it is really hurtful to MIL to get up and walk away, especially in public. And what about FIL? I just don’t see any benefit to what you’re doing, or any justification for it. I mean, yes, she is a bit crazy about this, but it is a relatively harmless crazy, and if there is a way to deal with it, it is through discussion in private, not drama in public.

    • Chances are if you live in a small city, people already know the deal with your SIL and BIL, so the only person your MIL is really embarrassing is herself. I would sit silently and not say anything, but I would also not participate in the conversation or offer any support to her delusions. Getting up and walking away just casts you and your husband in a bad light, and embarrasses your MIL more than she is already embarrassing herself.

      Also (recognizing that I do not know your MIL or how well you can reason with her) it might pay off to explain to her how her detailed, excessive lying (1) makes you and your husband feel; (2) makes your FIL feel (it would be helpful to get his support, obviously); and (3) makes her look (because she is obviously concerned about what people think). Perhaps explaining that a simple “my son and his wife are doing fine” or “oh, you know them, they just never slow down” is sufficient will be helpful in locating some middle ground.

      I hope that this is helpful. I truly sympathize.

    • You seem to be handling it in the most dramatic way possible. I can’t even imagine if I approached a sitting family and asked how someone was doing, and two people got up and left and stood across the restuarant. When someone approaches the table and asks, could you (or husband) jump in and say, they are doing well thanks how is so and so?

      It sounds like your brother in law is very messed up, and your MIL has issues as well, but you seem to have a need for the “truth” to be told to everyone, when really you should be approaching it by asking your MIL to not lie, they could just gloss over it.

    • To lightly echo everybody else, I don’t think anybody is reacting well in this situation. Your MIL is making up stories, your FIL clams up and you + hubs just walk away. You all need help in adequately coming to terms with the BIL/SIL situation and how to deal with acquaintances. Family therapy might be helpful for all of you.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Would it be possible for you all to come up with something vague but truthful to tell people. Something along the lines of “they are living in x city and working at y job.” That way you could all be on the same page, there wouldn’t be multiple lies floating around, and people get a response without knowing the details that aren’t any of their business.

    • OP here - :

      Let me just ask, because everyone seems to be on the same page here –

      We have sat down and discussed this as a family 3-4 times, and asked/pleaded/begged her to just not expressly lie, to just say that they are fine, or to say something vague. We’ve explained in detail how it hurts us when she does this, and she’s aware there is a restraining order, and that we’ve had to lock ourselves in the house and call 911, and everything that has happened over the past four years. She agrees, promises not to, and then does it again.

      What she does is go into this elaborate tale of specific, totally false things that they are doing/working at that goes on for 5+ minutes. For example, my husband got a promotion and they wanted to take us out to dinner and we agreed and then when one of his college friends came over to say hello she told him my husband had gotten a promotion and she was so proud two of her sons had and that her other son was promoted to such-and-such officer and the pay raise would allow him and SIL to spend Easter in Hawaii on a vacation and that’s why they weren’t coming homing, etc….when he’s been dishonorably discharged. The one time we said ‘what?’ at the table she immediately burst into tears and ran out of the restaurant, so I guess I feel like we’re actually trying to avoid drama with the current m.o., not create drama, by walking away although that isn’t how it seemed to come across. We don’t get up and stomp out; it’s more an ‘excuse me’ and we both go to the bathroom or something.

      I’m starting to wonder if we just shouldn’t meet them in public anymore. We always meet in public and go out to dinner because (1) she has four long-haired cats and I am incredibly allergic to cats, and (2) they don’t drive at night and so refuse to come to our house for dinner. I mean, I hate to do that, because they are much older and I don’t want to ruin our relationship, but things are pretty much ruined now, so it can’t get much worse.

      Footnote: I realize how completely CRAY-CRAY this sounds when I write it down. I promise that we all, otherwise, come across as normal people.

      • Maybe start having them over for weekend brunch–I agree with you that not meeting in public may be a way to address this, since it sounds terrible for you and your husband, as well as stressful for your ILs. At first I thought that it was somewhat cruel for people in your small town that know about your BIL/SIL to continually ask about them and dwell on them, but with your update, it sounds like it’s all your MIL volunteering info and going on about them.

        Has your MIL gone to therapy? Any way you or your husband could approach that topic?

        • Yeah, I’m gonna re-ditto therapy and also suggest maybe driving them to your house and dropping them home for dinner at your place. Sure, more work but at least you get to avoid the awkward situations. Or, picnics in the park.

        • Family. Therapy.

          Your MIL is not going to change her behavior. You’ve talked to her. She knows where you’re coming from and chooses to continue her behavior. This situation sounds like a toxic festering wound in your family.

      • I second picking them up and dropping them off at their house. And if you are out in public and you see her start to open her mouth, cut her off if possible. Otherwise, if the people she is volunteering all this non-information to are your friends, and you see them often or at least fairly regularly, take the opportunity to delicately and discreetly explain the situation the next time you see those friends.

        Like I said previously, I have a feeling that people in town know this is all your MIL and actually appreciate the discretion and patience you and your husband have shown thus far. Everyone has at least someone in their family that is a source of embarrassment. I know that, for me, when I know a friend or colleague has a difficult family situation I always end up thinking what a remarkable person he or she is to have deal with such a difficult circumstance and remain a kind, normal human-being.

        • I agree. My parents had a similar neighbor to the MIL. She went on and on about how wonderful her grandson was, how he was so successful, could do no wrong, etc. Everyone in the neighborhood knew he was a huge troublemaker, likely stole from the neighbor, and that she had to get him out of lots of sticky situations. You’ll look much better if you just keep your mouth shut, because I can bet that no one for a second believes what the MIL is saying.

      • I think you need to begin by defining what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, and then determine whether that is within your control. If you’re trying to stop MIL from making up wonderful stories about her son, how can you realistically stop her from doing so? If you’re trying to stop MIL from telling these wonderful stories *in your presence* then I think you need to figure out how to accomplish that without embarrassing her. I think the suggestion of entertaining in your house is a good start (brunch is a good idea).

      • I think you’re being petty and melodramatic. It sounds like you’re really just bent out of shape that your in-laws aren’t giving your husband more praise for being a golden child. It’s not enough for you and your husband that he is doing better than his sibling. You want to make sure that everyone knows “the truth” that the brother and his wife are f*ck ups. Knock it off, and have some pity on your husband’s parents. Imagine being them, and having one troubled son, one self-centered one, a daughter-in-law who’s a theif and another one who’s hellbent on making fools out of them every time they go out in public.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      If I was in your situation, my brain would explode every time she did this, so I can understand why you don’t want to be in her presence when she makes up these outrageous lies, but I also agree that you’re not handling it in a productive or helpful way. I agree with the other ladies that the way to handle it is to avoid the situation entirely. So, I would suggest having another family meeting, and really articulating yet again how upset her lies makes you and your husband feel. Maybe write it out so she can read it multiple times when she wants to lie again. And then tell her that if she lies in public in your presence again, you will not go out in public with her again for X period of time. That you would be delighted to host a lovely meal in your home, that you’d be happy to pick her up and drop her off, that you want to stay connected as a family, but you simply cannot abide these hurtful lies because every time she lies, she is dismissing all the suffering you and your husband have endured. And then ask her if she can restrain herself in public, or if the next family meal should be at home. Hopefully, she will pick a home meal, but if she picks a public meal, follow through on the boundaries you have set. I also agree that family therapy is a great idea.

    • I have a similarish issue in my family. My brother just graduated college and owns a marijuana dispensary. It is awkward when people ask about what he is doing, which they do all of the time because he is a recent grad who lives quite a nice lifestyle. Needless to say, my parents are NOT cool with his profession. We just came up with a vague story that is quasi true… we say something like, “oh he is up to lots of stuff, not exactly sure” or, “oh he works at a vitamin store?” & change the subject by asking a question on a different topic. Discussions & disagreements about his lifestyle are brought up in private. When we are together we have a united front. You guys need to learn how to do this. Doing what you are doing is probably just making people more curious & gossipy and your MIL feel alienated and even worse than she probably already does about raising such an eff-up.

  7. he Melitta :

    I actually think it is best to get an e-mail in sometime in the mid-morning at the beginning of the week– even Monday. The greatest risk is that your contact may overlook your message. Your goal is mainly to get whatever task you are asking for onto the agenda, and you have the best chance of getting that task done faster the sooner it is on that week’s agenda. Given that e-mails do build up over night and over weekends, the best chance that you will send your e-mail at the moment that your contact is actually reviewing them is at about 10 AM on any given morning. Sending the message on a Monday gives that person a chance to allocate their time on whatever you are asking for within the whole week.

    Also, you will have another chance to follow up (Wednesday morning) within the same week if they do not get back to you.

  8. Professor, on most days :

    Academic research shows that the best days to send out surveys or email respondents are Tuesday and Wednesdays…

    • Yep! I can think of arguments for Friday afternoons, for instance, or Monday mornings, but in reality those are the worst times if you want someone to take any sort of action on something.

  9. Thanks! I am going through the same thing with WAITING after interviews, trying not to take it personally.

    What do you do about people who don’t respond to emails…

    • Some of us simply can’t get back to all emails, or don’t for company protocol reasons (eg reporters). It’s a matter of degree- eg. you don’t expect the US President or a major CEO to email back the hundreds/thousands of emails they get back per day. I get dozens to hundreds per day. My work world is a place of constant prioritizing. Often if I don’t get to it same day, I forget it exists, as it sits in my inbox with the other several thousand I will never go back to review as I’d hoped. Especially if I’m doing 16 hr days on business travel or on a major event, etc. It just isn’t realistic to expect that everyone will reply 1:1 to your emails, especially the higher up you go.

      • ps… I do scan them all, and respond to those that matter. And there’s a very clear order: CEO, bosses, customers, etc. I have a colleague who expects his optional minor tasks requests should be responded to within 48 hrs always- this is naive and makes him appear young/silly. For those just starting out, whether interviewing or working, try to understand where you fit in the bigger picture and act accordingly if you want to have smooth relations at the office.

  10. he Melitta :

    Send a follow up e-mail 2-3 days later. If they do not respond after another day, call them. If you send the initial e-mail on Monday, this gets you an answer by the end of the week, as long as they don’t avoid your call. If they’re afraid to talk to you or can’t give you a straight answer a full week later, then you probably don’t want to work there anyway!

    • Eh, I disagree on the lack of straight answer == don’t want to work there. I interview for my agency. It may be *months* between interview and hiring decision. And, even if I know where the applicant is in the process, I may not be able to tell them because I’m not authorized. So I do dodge calls. Then again, I usually tell people in the interview to please email, NOT call, so that I could fwd the email to whoever is the appropriate person at that particular time.

    • karenpadi :

      Ugh. No. Don’t call after one day. It’s uncalled for and indicates that the candidate has unreasonable expectations (or as Baby Boomers say about Millennials, “entitled”).

      Feel free to send a follow-up email. I’ll just forward it to recruiting. If a candidate calls me, I might pick up but I won’t have much to say to him except that he should contact recruiting and that I’ve forwarded his earlier message there. If a candidate leaves a VM, I could technically forward it to recruiting but I won’t because I don’t know how to do that on our new phone system.

      There is one instance where a candidate could call me and I won’t be annoyed (but an email would be equally effective): the candidate has another offer and needs a decision in the next day or two. But then again, I’ll just email the hiring partners (and recruiting) while on the phone to alert them. So the decision makers are still getting the info via email regardless of whether the candidate calls or emails.

  11. Overall point: there is huge variability in people’s schedules. The top factor I think is what’s appropriate based on your fact set: what you know about the person and their workload/style, when you last had contact with them. Under a week is too soon in my view for follow up. It is unlikely they have completed other interviews, huddled as a team, routed it through HR, made any decisions, etc.

  12. Long-time lurker TJ – I have discovered through LinkedIn, that an alumnus of my law school is a managing editor at a company where I plan to apply for an editing position. I want to reach out to her to establish my interest in the position, inquire about the company etc., but am unsure of the proper way to go about doing this. I am not yet connected with her on LinkedIn. Do I request a connection then send her a message? Do I try to get hooked up through the alumni office? What do I say? I am really interested in this position and do not want to give her a negative impression! Thanks in advance.

  13. Thanks for the input. As a job seeker who spends most of her day reaching out to contacts and potential contacts, its easy to lose perspective as to the reasons behind a lack of immediate (or any) response to inquiries. And that kills my motivation to keep trying.

    When I am president of the world, everyone will be required to indicate their routine response patterns (i.e. I don’t check voicemail, I will respond within 48 hours if I am ever going to respond, I don’t read email, I respond to email when I feel like it etc) in their outgoing voicemail and email signature.

    • Also remember it isn’t personal. Some people are busy so many hours of the day- if you haven’t done those kind of jobs you can’t imagine. And there is a lot of protocol around hiring contacting in big orgs.
      I’m up for a promotional opportunity at work (new job in different department). I know the would-be boss and have chatted with him about it, all signs looked good in February. Heard nothing for a month. Stopped myself from badgering- not appropriate, if there was something to share I knew he would. Saw him yesterday. He said good news, things moving forward after an HR problem. He offered this info, I didn’t ask. Yes I wondered daily, but it was the right thing to do to wait. Often times you can only hurt yourself by being annoying/inappropriate.

      • just to drive this point home: rarely can I think of a case when a phone call is going to up your chances of an offer that you were going to get anyway when they were ready. and if you weren’t, doubtful it will change minds. and if you email: short, simple, stop. polite.

  14. The service “Boomerang” (which makes an add in for Gmail) conducted a study that found that emails sent at 6 am are the most likely to be read. To my knowledge it didn’t report any findings about particular days of the week but the study does shed some insight onto what words you should avoid in the subject in order to increase the chances of a response. http://mashable.com/2012/02/09/boomerang-email-infographic/

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