Thank you notes are too often overlooked by too many job seekers.
These days people seem to pay less attention to good manners and etiquette throughout the job search process
. . . Which makes these positive qualities an even more powerful asset to those who always display them.
People with particularly good manners stand out above those who don’t bother or never really learned how.
Here’s a piece of advice to job seekers at every level – from the c-suite to entry-level
Buy a few boxes of quality thank notes and plenty of postage stamps, and start using them regularly.
Yes, I mean good old-fashioned paper note cards.
As noted by etiquette coach Maggie Oldham:
“Old fashioned thank-you notes matter more now than they have in the past because so few people write them. Handwritten notes are a differentiator. They show the person you’re thanking that you made a sincere effort to acknowledge their act of kindness or generosity.”
- Those involved in job interviews in any way
- People in their network who provide introductions or leads
- People who give them informational interviews
- Employers and colleagues who write recommendations
Very few job seekers send thank you’s after interviews, so the impact for those who take advantage of this little-used strategy can be significant.
I often hear stories about job seekers who didn’t get the job, but sent thank you notes anyway, and eventually landed the job when the first hire didn’t work out. Employers were that impressed with the fact that they had sent thank you notes.
In a pinch, email or text 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 the last time you received any kind of hand-written note in the mail.
Didn’t it make you feel good – that someone took the time and consideration to sit down, pen some thoughts, and pop it in the mail?
7 Ways Thank You Notes Can Help You Land The Job
1. They allow you to thank interviewers once again for their time.
2. They keep you top-of-mind as a good-fit candidate.
3. They allow you to mention highlights of the interview conversation and reiterate your interest in the position and the company.
4. They provide an opportunity to once more reinforce your personal brand and value proposition for that company.
5. They provide an opportunity to bring up information you poorly addressed or forgot in the interview. You can set things right if you botched the interview. [More about this below.]
6. They provide an opportunity to ask about the next step in the interview process.
7. They can be the make-or-break deciding factor in you landing at that company sometime in the future.
How to phrase your thank you’s
Job search expert Alison Doyle offered several ways to say “thank you” to your interviewers:
- I appreciate having the opportunity to speak with you today about the [job title] position at [company name].
- I appreciate the time you and the [company name] team spent interviewing me.
- I appreciate your time and consideration in interviewing me for this position.
- I enjoyed speaking with you about the opportunity to work with your company.
- I greatly appreciate the time you took to interview me.
- I sincerely appreciate the time you took to interview me.
- I sincerely enjoyed meeting with you to discuss the [job title] opening.
- I would like to thank you and your staff for the opportunity to meet with you.
- Many thanks for the opportunity to meet with you.
- Thank you for speaking with me about the [job title] position at [company name].
- Thank you for the courtesy you extended to me during my interview.
Take it beyond a “thank you”
Recruitment firm FPC National advises that your letter needs to go beyond saying “thank you”. It needs to make a pitch:
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make with their follow-up letters is neglecting to use this correspondence as an opportunity to cement your talking points. If you only use this letter to thank your interviewer for their time, then you are leaving a lot unsaid.
There are three important goals you can achieve in your letter:
1. Reinforce your messaging: Either in paragraph or bullet form, reiterate your most relevant qualifications.
2. Overcome objections: Did you run into a stumbling block on the interview? Did they express concerns about your candidacy? Here is a chance for you to mitigate any negative, conflicting, or irrelevant aspects of your background.
3. Fill in the gaps: Here is your opportunity to provide information that address requirements that you uncovered during the interview.
What to do if you botched the interview
Don’t give up on the job (or the company), if you screwed up the interview. You may be able to turn things around with a thoughtfully-written thank you letter, addressing the negative issues.
Here’s a case in point, noted in the Career Directors International Tip Sheet, “Maintain Momentum After the Job Interview“
“An engineer interviews for a job he really wants. He doesn’t perform well and feels horrible. After all, he’s good with his hands, not his communication. He wasn’t going to send a thank letter, but his career consultant convinced him he had to. Together, they talked about what went wrong during the interview.
Then, they created a thank you letter that readdressed the botched questions, especially since he was an expert on that topic. The letter also included a quote directly from a letter of reference from a former boss. They also included that letter and an article the engineer had written on the topic.
He ultimately got the job! On his first day, his boss told him that when he had left after the first interview, he was out of the running. They assumed he must have lied on his resume.”
Address where you fell short in the interview and sell the value you offer when you craft your “second chance” thank you letter.
You may get nowhere with this letter, but why not try? You have everything to gain.
Tips to make the best impression with your thank you notes
Get the full name, correct spelling, and title of each interviewer. Collecting everyone’s business cards is a great way to do this.
Take a little time right after the interview to jot down the following:
- Critical questions they asked.
- Your answers that had a positive impact, captured their attention, and/or represented important skills to meet the company’s current challenges.
- The concerns about you they voiced.
- Items you forgot to mention in the interview.
- Remember to personalize the content in each note. Don’t copy exactly the same information in every one. These people may share the notes you sent them.
- DON’T write the note before the interview and hand it to the employer at the end of the interview.
- Remember to sign the letter.
- Because the distribution of mail at some workplaces is slow, it may be best to immediately send an email thank you, followed by a hand-written one. The second thank you they receive is another gentle way to stay top-of-mind with potential employers.
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.