Sending Big Brother Message With Your Resume

Dear J.T. & Dale: When submitting a cover letter and resume by e-mail, is it proper to request a “read receipt”? — Tom

Dale: First, let’s explain “read receipt”: It’s the electronic cousin of the U.S. Postal Service’s “delivery confirmation,” telling you that your e-mail was opened. Your question, Tim, got me curious to see if that option was offered on my Gmail account. It isn’t. Turns out the folks at Google, the ones who offer Gmail, don’t believe in them. Rather, I was directed to a discussion page where the opinion was that read-receipts are both unreliable and “may be considered a violation of privacy.”

J.T.: Yes, the read-receipt has a “Big Brother” feel, one that leaves me feeling put off. I realize it can be incredibly frustrating to not hear back from an employer, but I’d hate to think you’re doing anything that reduces your odds of hearing back.

Dale: Moreover, what good does it do? None. I met a sales rep who mails out expensive, classy brochures. Whenever he called to follow up, he would ask prospects if they had received his brochure. The answer invariably was “no,” even when he knew they’d gotten it. So, then he’d resend it. Eventually, he got so frustrated that he started calling people BEFORE he sent the brochure, asking the same “Did you get the brochure?” and getting the same “no”; then he’d send it for the first time. It was faster, and cut his costs in half. The point is, assume that they haven’t read your e-mail unless they tell you otherwise … and if they’re telling you, then you’re talking to them, and that will gain you far more than some annoying electronic notification.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm,, and of the blog, Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with Please visit them at, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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