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The How’s and Why’s of Thank You Notes

You’ve just completed the initial round of interviews, which, if you may say so yourself, seemed to go pretty well. What’s next? Rather than just hope and wait, close the loop and send a personalized, well-thought out thank you note. Contrary to popular opinion, many candidates don’t send thank you notes. So, sending one is an opportunity to really stand out.

Three reasons to send a thank you note

Along the lines of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” sending a thank you note shows courtesy and respect. If someone took time out of their day to share something with you (in this case, their time), you should always show gratitude.

But more specifically as it relates to a job search, here are three important reasons to send a thank you note following an interview:

1) You can clarify and elaborate. It happens to us all. Even if you felt you aced the interview, an hour later you think of something you should have said. A thank you note gives you the chance to clarify and throw in a little extra oomph. For instance, you could say, “After I left, I thought of this [example] and how it relates to where you’re at as a company. I think I could add value by my experience/skill at [example].”

2) You can highlight your skills and solidify the impression. In a thank you note, you can highlight things mentioned in the interview, like the skills you have that you know they really want. It’s also a chance to remind them of your qualifications and solidify the impression you made during the interview. Often, the company is interviewing so many candidates in a day they can forget exactly who you are. Use the thank you note to strengthen the initial connection and build rapport.

3) You can show how important the company is to you. When you don’t follow up with a thank you, it just leaves a bad taste. If you weren’t in the running, you certainly won’t be now. And, if you were under consideration, you’ll definitely drop in the rankings, especially if other candidates send notes.

How to write a great thank you note

While you never want it to sound canned, there are some basics to writing a great thank you after an interview. First, keep your note short and concise. Then, follow these guidelines:

Greeting. Follow the level of formality set in the interview process whether it’s a first name or a surname.

Set it up. “I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your time this past Tuesday. I really enjoyed meeting with you and ______ to talk about the _______ position.”

Second, share specifically what you like about the company. “I’m impressed with the culture you have created at ______ and how it serves both employees and customers.”

Third, highlight your skills. “You mentioned this job is going to require a lot of employee relations and that was 80% of my last role. It’s a space I really enjoy.”

Last, wrap it up. “I’m really looking forward to hearing what the next steps will be. Please let me know if you have any further questions about my candidacy or any other information I can provide.”

Customize and personalize. Add the little touches that show you’ve thought about the position and the company. Be genuine. It will shine through and make a great impression. The hiring manager or HR professional is looking at the thank you note to see if there is true interest from you.

In a competitive job market, positions are getting many applicants. Companies want to know if the candidate is really interested in the company for what it is, and not, let’s say, as a way to leverage a pay raise in their current job. They want to ascertain the motivation of the person and why they’re looking to make a move to their company.

Here are some ideas for adding a more personal, genuine touch to your thank you note.

  • Explain why you’re excited about the company and their mission
  • Mention something specific that interested you about the company
  • If you made a personal connection with the interviewer, circle back to that and use it to build rapport

What’s the best way to send a thank you note?

Email is the way to go. Although a handwritten note can really stand out, the sense of urgency in which we all live makes snail mail seem extremely slow. You need to get the thank you out soon and an email is the fastest. Do it within 24 hours of the interview, too. You want to take the time to be thoughtful, but you don’t want them to forget you, or worse, wonder why it took you so long.

Nix texting a thank you note. A text can get lost, but even worse, it’s such a quick way and informal method of communication that it might work against you. They may think you couldn’t even take the time to jot off an email.

Writing a good thank you email

It sounds so basic but forego a quick “copy and paste” when sending out multiple thanks you emails. Many people don’t realize that often when you copy from an email and paste it into another email it may show up as a different color when you send it. That’s never good. If you’re going to write an effective thank you note, take the time to do it right. It looks worse if you are going to just copy and paste or send something generic.

Pen a good subject line too. One that is personalized and specific, so it doesn’t get sucked into a spam folder. For instance, “Thanks for the Project Manager interview yesterday.”

Who should get the thank you note?

In a perfect world, you should send individual thank you notes to whomever you met with, or whomever you spoke to on the phone. But what if you met with two people but only have the contact information for one person? First, look on the company’s website or interviewer’s LinkedIn to see if you can find their contact information. If not, add in that other person to the thank you email and say, “Do you mind passing this along to so-and-so? I didn’t get the chance to grab their business card, but I would like to thank them for their time.”

From Cover Letter to Thank You Note

In a way, a thank you note is similar to a well-written cover letter. Short, concise yet customized to the job and situation. You would never send the same cover letter to more than one company. The same applies to a thank you note.

Even if you had a great interview, it’s easy for the interviewer to forget all your details as they go back to their busy day. But if you’re sending that follow-up thank you note, highlighting and summarizing your skill set again, they’re going to be reminded of you and how you could be a great fit. It really is a book end to the cover letter. It underlines why you are the right candidate, and closes out your application process.

Photo credit: Canva

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