Polite Follow-Up Email to Professor : When and How You should Write
An email is not just a correspondence. It is a good communication exercise, and you are judged for it. Follow-up email and reminder emails to professors can seem intimidating to write; you need an answer to a question or request, but you don’t want to seem pushy or demanding. Well, just like yours, professors’ inboxes are full of email; sometimes your message might slip through the cracks, or the professor read it and meant to reply, but something urgent came up–so gentle reminders are perfectly acceptable and even helpful. As a general rule of thumb, wait at least 48 hours to send a follow-up to a professor, and if you email on a Friday afternoon or weekend, wait until at least Tuesday afternoon before reaching out again.
Mistakes made in polite follow-up email and what to do instead
There are three common mistakes often made when writing polite follow-up emails. Let’s talk about each of these mistakes so you can avoid them when writing a polite follow-up email and what to do instead.
Using “follow-up” in the email subject line
When writing a polite follow-up email, most people tend to naturally use “follow-up” in the subject line. While this email is a follow-up, that subject line doesn’t add any value and will likely be ignored. It can also cause the reader to feel like you’re pointing blame because you didn’t answer, which doesn’t make the reader feel very good or interested in reading your email.
Instead, write a subject line that’s relevant to the topic or purpose of the email. To do this, ask yourself what the email is about or what you want them to do. Continue reading for polite follow-up email subject line examples.
Starting with “just following up” and not adding value
Another common mistake made when writing a polite follow-up email is starting with “just following up” and sending an email that doesn’t add any value. People are busy and don’t have time to read an email that they have to decipher the meaning of or what action is required.
Instead, when writing your polite follow-up email, focus on adding value. For example, give them options, share how you can help them solve their problem or what you can do for them, or add more details or context.
Not including a call to action
The final and most common mistake when writing a polite follow-up email is forgetting to include a call to action.
Instead, when writing a polite follow-up email, be clear about what you want the person to do after reading your email. Do you want them to reply? Call you back? Fill out a form? Be clear and specific so they know what you want them to do. You can do this while still being polite. Keep reading to see the polite follow-up email samples and learn how to incorporate this into your follow-up emails.
Not following up quickly
Instead of waiting 10+ days to follow up, consider sending a reminder sooner like 3 days. This ensures the recipient still has the topic and request fresh in their mind. If you wait too long, there is a chance they’ve already forgotten about your call to action and the steps you asked them to take. As an example, if you were a real estate agent, you know time is crucial! So it’s best to only wait a couple of days and send a polite and gentle reminder to either respond with a timeline or an assurance that the task was completed.
(01) Polite Follow-Up Email Samples
Subject: Follow-up about [Reason for Follow -up]
Good afternoon Professor* [Last name],
I hope all is well. I wanted to follow up on my email from [when you sent it] about [what your concern or question is]. I understand you have a busy schedule, but I wanted to see about [whatever you are following up on].
I greatly appreciate your time. Thank you again in advance for your help with [question]. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
(02) Polite Follow-Up Email Samples
Subject: Reminder about [Reason for Reminder]
Good morning Professor* [Last name],
I hope all is well. I know you have lots of things going on, but I just wanted to remind you that [whatever you are reminding of] is due/needed by [date]. Thank you again for taking time to complete [request]. Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information.
Thank you again!
*Use the title they use for themselves. If they haven’t specified, “Professor [Last Name]” is preferred.
(03) Polite Follow-Up Email Job Application Samples
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
March 11, 2021
87 Delaware Road
Hatfield, CA 08065
Dear Mr. Wyatt,
I submitted a letter of application and a resume earlier this month for the programmer position advertised in the Times Union. To date, I have not heard from your office. I would like to confirm receipt of my application and reiterate my interest in the job.
I am very interested in working at XYZ Company, and I believe my skills and experience would be an ideal match for this position. In particular, my five years as an award-winning programmer at ABC Company make me a strong fit for this position and company.
Please let me know if you need any further materials from me.
I can be reached at (333) 333-9999 or [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for your consideration.
Signature (hard copy letter)
(04) Polite Follow-Up Email Samples ( if you already discussed with the professor)
“Dear Professor (Surname or full name),
I just wanted to follow up on the [ABC] position we discussed last [DAY OF WEEK].
You mentioned getting in touch about potential next steps. Is there anything I can do to help speed the process along?
(05) Simple Follow-Up Email Samples
“Dear Professor (Surname or full name),
This is ABC (your name) from the place (and current position). I emailed you a couple of days ago requesting a postdoc/Ph.D. Position in your lab. I am emailing again to make sure that you have received my email. I hope to receive a reply from you soon.
Again, thank you for your time, and have a nice day.
Phone Number -+01-6666666
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