Searching for a job? Don't underestimate the power of a thank you note
You made a great first impression at your job interview. But, how do you leave lasting one, too? A thank you note! This small follow-up gesture can have a big effect on your job candidacy. But, the details can be confusing - when, how long, email, paper, both? I’ve crafted and reviewed hundreds of professional thank you notes and compiled a list of the details that matter most. Plus, I’ve included a few creative ideas, for those times when you want to make a bigger impression.
Triple check your notes; typos and grammatical mistakes are the last thing you want when trying to make a lasting impression. Be sure to pay particular attention to the spelling, and capitalization, of the company or interviewer’s name. We’ve seen candidates lose offers because of misspellings. This is understandable as it makes a hiring manager wonder if the candidate is really conscientious and caring about their work.
Do It Quickly
The sooner the better! Right after your interview is ideal, and don’t wait longer than 24 hours. When you are interviewing for a job, there are likely other candidates in play. I’ve seen hiring managers get turned-off to a candidate for lack of a thank you note and proceed with another contender. When the thank you note finally arrived days later, it was too late. This is why email is good for timing and a paper follow-up is good form.
Texting is Not OK
Please, please, please do not text your thank you notes, regardless of how hip your interviewer is. In my opinion, paper and email are best. Email is especially good when applying for contract roles as things move faster in this situation. Always follow up from your email with a paper note as well as it’s more personal, and make sure your name and contact information are clearly visible. Inserting a personal business card with your name, phone number, email and social media accounts can help. I also like to include a personal quote on the back – something that will leave a lasting impression. Mine was, “The best compliments are referrals from family and friends."
Thank Everyone and Customize Your Message
Take the time to thank everyone who helped you at the company - the receptionist at the front desk who welcomed you, the administrative assistant who settled you into the conference room and, of course, the interviewers. Address something specific you learned or have in common with the each person. It’s also nice to acknowledge something funny that happened, like a fire drill in the middle of your interview, but always err on the side of professional and appropriate.
Your custom message is a chance to connect again with employees of the company and show them how eager and interested you are in the job. Be sure to say different things in each note. Trust me, the recipients will often share them with each other, and being repetitive never reflects well.
Need ideas? Here are some examples:
“I was glad to learn about your partnership with XX as they are an organization near and dear to me as well."
"Thank you for sharing how you are able to juggle work/home/school into your schedule while at your company because this is something important to me as well."
“I was happy to share my knowledge on X topic and was excited to learn how much work you are doing on this cutting edge technology."
Stand Out More!
Sometimes you may want to set yourself apart even more. Here are a few examples of some of the creative ways I followed up with job prospects. Yes! I got called back on all of them and also received several job offers:
I Like Your Shoes
The receptionist in many companies is often the gatekeeper and may even decide what calls they allow through to hiring managers! When I interviewed at WinterWyman, our receptionist, Sharon, commented on my cute shoes. I sent her a thank you card with a picture of a shoe on it, and inside I wrote "Thank you for letting me get my foot in the door."
Try a Key
On several occasions I sent a key that I purchased from a hardware store to go in the card and put it inside a note that said something like, “I would love to unlock my potential with you,” or, “Let me be the key to your company's new success."
Or, a Balloon
While in the interview process for a sales role, I sent a Mylar balloon in a 12”x12” box. When the balloon rose from the box upon opening, the card attached said, "I would love to take your sales to new heights." For another company I wrote, "I hope to soar with your company." After one particularly fun interview, I sent a note that said, "Hoping to prove I'm not full of hot air.”
The level of creativity really depends on you as a professional, what you are comfortable with and how conservative the company you are interviewing with is (or isn’t.) Be thoughtful and smart when being more adventurous. When done right, clever thank you tactics can help you leave a positive lasting impression, and, in turn, keep you in the running for the job. And, regardless of creative or traditional, never neglect to do the crucial thank you step in the hiring process.