A Little Thanks Can Make a Big Difference with Kathryn Alford

I may be old-school, but I love sending hand-written notes to people to wish them a happy birthday, congratulate them on a major achievement, or sometimes even just to say hello to a good friend I haven’t talked to in a while. One way this love of cards has particularly served me well in my career is during the job search.

According to a survey by Robert Half International, 80% of hiring managers found thank you notes after an interview helpful in evaluating the candidate. However, only 24% actually received them.

Looking at these statistics and when you think about how long it takes to write a quick thank you note, it’s amazing to realize how this small follow up can make such a big difference in your interview process.

How to say thanks

Thanks to technology, sending a thank you note is quick and easy. You probably were already emailing the hiring manager or interviewer to set up a time to talk, so just respond to that same email chain with a short note saying thank you.

In some instances, you may not have the email address for the person you spoke with in the interview. If that is the case, it is not impolite to ask the hiring manager for the person’s email address to send them a quick note. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can always ask the hiring manager to pass along your thanks to the interviewer.

If you want to take it a step further and really stand out, send a handwritten thank you note as well. Key words here are “as well.” It’s called snail mail for a reason, and you don’t want to get passed over because someone doesn’t receive your handwritten note in time. Another option for handwritten notes is if the interview takes place in person, you can have a blank thank you note in your purse and you can fill it out in the lobby or outside the office and then leave it with the front desk to be delivered to the interviewer.

In the age of remote work, however, handwritten notes are even more challenging. If you know the person works in an office and you can find the office’s address online, feel free to send a note. But, if someone works remotely from home, asking for their home address may make them uncomfortable, so keep to an email even if handwritten notes are your preference.

What to say

A thank you note does not have to be long. In fact, it’s better if it’s not. A few sentences to a couple paragraphs at most will get your gratitude across easily.

However, don’t copy and paste and same message to everyone you interview with and just change the name. Use this opportunity to reiterate your excitement about the job or the company. Mention something you personally connected on that was brought up during the interview. Thank them for answering a particular question or concern you had. You want your note to sound thoughtful, and personalization helps.

When you wrap up the note, be sure to invite them to follow up if they need any additional information from you. Additionally, if during the interview you talked about a particular project or writing you did, include links or attach the project to the thank you email so they can see it.

Before hitting send or licking the envelope shut, triple check that you spelled their name and the company’s name correctly. You can guarantee you’ll be remembered if you misspell their name, but not for the right reasons.

When to send

Thank you notes should be timely. A thank you email should be sent no later than 24 hours after the meeting. If your interview is virtual or over the phone, you can certainly write and send your thank you email immediately after your call is done.

A handwritten thank you note should also be sent as soon as possible. It should at least be within the week because you have to also account for shipping time. If you wait much longer, the whole interview process may be over no matter what.

Ultimately, any sort of thanks you give is going to be appreciated, so take a couple extra minutes and make the effort. You never know when it can make the difference.

If you have any questions about this blog, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Kathryn Alford is the Communications Director at the Network of enlightened Women. This blog is part of the NeW 2022 Professional Development Week Blog Series. 

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