Interviews: The Power of Thank You Notes

by Meg Guiseppi on June 23, 2011

Old-fashioned good manners are surprisingly powerful these days. Maybe because so many people lack them.

If you’re in a job search, or even contemplating one, here’s a piece of advice to position yourself above your competition:

Buy a few boxes of quality thank notes and plenty of postage stamps, and start using them regularly.

That’s right. Get into the habit of sending hand-written thank you’s to just about anyone you interact with in your job search – everyone involved in interviews, people in your network who provide introductions, employers and colleagues who write recommendations, etc.

With an estimated mere 5% of job seekers sending thank you’s after interviews, the impact for those who take advantage of this little-used strategy can be significant.

Clients have told me that thank-you notes were the deciding factor in landing a new job. The decision was down to the wire. My clients sent thank you’s, the others didn’t. The people hiring them said they were so impressed by the effort that it tipped the scales in my clients’ favor.

Emailed thank you’s are okay, and sometimes the only option if timing is a factor, but they just don’t have the impact a snail-mailed one does. Think about how you feel when you get a thank you note in the mail, for whatever reason. You’re impressed that this person took the time and consideration to sit down, pen some thoughts, and pop it in the mail, aren’t you?

If you consistently carry through the brand message you established in the interview or interaction, your thank you’s will remind and reinforce the reader of your promise of value.

Here’s what a well-written, personalized thank you note accomplishes following an interview:

  • Conveys courtesy toward the interviewer for their time.
  • Reminds the interviewer of you and puts you top of mind again.
  • Mentions highlights of the interview conversation and reiterates your interest in the position.
  • Provides an opportunity to bring up information you poorly addressed or forgot in the interview.
  • Provides an opportunity to ask about the next step in the interview process.

According to Laura DeCarlo and Susan Guarneri in their excellent book, Job Search Bloopers, here are some things to keep in mind with your thank you notes:

– Make sure to have the full name, correct spelling, and title of each interviewer before you leave. Asking for business cards is a great way to do this.

– Directly following the interview, jot down answers to the following:

  • Key questions that were asked.
  • Answers that captured their interest or which they said represented important skills for the position’s requirements or organization’s challenges.
  • Concerns they voiced.
  • Information you wish you had shared in regard to their requests and questions.

– Don’t send generic or canned thank you letters.

– Don’t hand a thank you letter to the employer at the end of the interview.

– Don’t forget to sign the letter.

Beyond the interview process, remember to send thank you’s to people in your network who helped you. Acknowledging your appreciation can make all the difference in keeping you and your personal brand top of mind with them for opportunities they hear about that may be a good fit for you.

Cross-posted at Job-Hunt.org.

Related posts:

Prepare to Ace & Brand Your C-level Executive Job Interview

How to Build a Powerful Executive Network

Best Executive Job Search Tips for 2011

photo by onebelladesign

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi June 28, 2011 at 6:00 am

Thanks for commenting, Stephen, and adding some more important tips. Great advice!

Best,
Meg

2 Meg Guiseppi June 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Susan,

Thanks for commenting and reinforcing that critical tip!

Note to my readers — follow Susan (@SusanGuarneri) and Laura DeCarlo (@careerhero) on Twitter. They share lots of other great job search advice there.

Best,
Meg

3 Susan Guarneri June 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thanks Meg for your kind mention of the Job Search Bloopers book, co-authored by myself and Laura DeCarlo. The first thank-you note tip you cited from our book is particularly important. Getting someone’s name or title wrong can kill whatever good will the job seeker managed to generate in the interview. So get those business cards and then reply with custom remarks (not generic) within 24 hours!

4 stephen q shannon June 24, 2011 at 4:46 am

Please, please also share with your avid followers:
1) DON’T as in do not use pre-printed “Thank You” notes paper. Tacky!
2) DON’T as in do not start your hand written thank you note with the
words “THANK YOU.” Why? That tips off the reader it is what it just might be…a “bread and butter” message that is boring…banal…and worst of all, shall be un-read. Try using the most important words “you” or “your”…
“You made my day.” “Your taking time to visit with me….”
Leave the words, “Thank you,” where they belong….at the end.
3) Finally, use a real USPS postage stamp. They are still for sale. They still are not distance sensitive. Use postage meter postage at your peril. More tacky and thoughtless, I can’t imagine. Can you say, “Shooting you in your foot?”
4) Remember – A hand written thank you note is a personalized gift. Make it sparkle.
Too passionate? I’ve only just begun.
sQs Delray Beach FL

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