Thank you notes are arguably the easiest part of the job application -- they’re short, conversational, and don’t take all that much brain power to write. However, you’ve still got to be extremely meticulous about proofreading your thank you notes before clicking send. When writing a resume, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on perfection. You’ve probably gone through your resume line by line multiple times to avoid the sneaky errors and typos that resumes are known for. But have you made a habit of doing the same thing with your thank you notes? If not, it’s time to start. Spelling and grammatical errors in a thank you note indicate that you lack attention to detail and/or are a poor writer. Neither of these things are acceptable to a hiring manager.
Because we don’t expect to find errors in thank you notes, they’re easy to overlook. Once you’ve written your thank you email, slowly re-read it several times out loud. You’d be amazed at how often you’ll inadvertently leave out a word or include some repetitive verbiage. And if grammar isn’t your strong suit, have someone else proofread your thank you note for you. It may seem silly to put that much work into such a short paragraph, but taking this extra step will always be worthwhile. Don’t let the easiest part of your job application be the thing that trips you up.
Many people believe that a traditional handwritten thank you note is the best way to follow up after an interview or informational meeting. By sending one, they believe they are adding a nice touch that will help them stand out in the crowd. And sometimes this really works -- there are a few people that appreciate the extra effort that goes into sending a handwritten thank you note. However, most people don’t care either way. Sending a handwritten thank you note will never hurt you . . . unless you send it in place of a thankyou email. Regardless of whether or not you’re into the whole handwritten note business,you should ALWAYS send a thank you note via email within 24 hours. Why?
1. Email is faster than snail mail. Unless you’re planning on driving back the next day, your letter isn’t going to get to the recipient fast enough to boost your chances of getting hired. And while some potential employers are impressed by the person who drives back the next day, some find it creepy and intrusive. Remember -- you're trying to impress the receptionist, not make her feel put-upon.
2. Thank you emails allow for supplementary materials and information. In your thankyou email, you should always offer to provide references or any other material that could help with the hiring process. And, if that’s something the hiring manager wants, he can simply respond affirmatively on the thread, instead of having to go out of his way to reach out to you to request it. And this is a two-way street -- if you have additional questions or want to check in about the hiring timeline at any point, an email will help facilitate that a lot more efficiently than a handwritten note.
3. Thank you emails make follow ups easier. Emails create a thread that will help the hiring manager (or person you've met for an informational interview) remember you down the line. Hopefully you’ve mentioned something specific and personal in your note, and the chain will jog the reader’s memory of you when it’s time for him to make a decision. It will also remind him of what has been previously discussed, so he can give youaccurate information moving forward.
As you can see, emailed thank you notes are a crucial part of the job application process. If handwritten thank you notes are your thing, that’s fine, just make sure you send them in conjunction with a thank you email.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Thank you notes are essential as a follow up to any job or informational interview -- they allow you to solidify that great first impression you’ve made during the meeting. But thankyou notes are about much more than gratitude and well wishes -- if you really want to make the most of your thank you note, the most important thing you can do is to include actionable next steps.
"Actionable next steps" depend on the situation -- informational interview next steps are very different than job interview next steps, but generally, the idea is to create an email thread of follow ups.
For instance, if you’ve just gone on an informational interview, perhaps you heard about a department at your new contact’s company that you’d like to learn more about. Maybe the person even offered to make an introduction during the meeting. If so, take him up on the offer! A thank you note is your time to remind your contact to actually follow through on the promises he made in person. If you forget to add a reminder, the other person will likely forget about the request entirely -- or worse, remember and decide that if it's not important enough for you to remember, it's not important enough for him to waste his time and social capital.
But maybe an intro or favor isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, and you're simply hoping to grow the relationship. You can still create a thread that warrants a response by calling back to information discussed in the meeting. For example, you could send a link to an interesting article that had been mentioned or watch a show/read a script the person recommended and offer your insights. This may not earn you an immediate result, but in the long term, it will help you build a rapport with the person you met with and encourage a lasting connection.
After an actual job interview, your actionable next steps will be to offer to send references or any other material the person needs. You also have an additional opportunity to ask about the hiring timeline if it didn’t come up during the meeting. Ultimately, the idea is to keep the conversation going and show that you are not only interested in the position, but are willing to be proactive to obtain it.
Thank you notes are great for opening up lines of email communication that will help a person remember you and allow for regular follow ups. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
So you’ve just had an awesome informational meeting with an executive at a company you’re very interested in working for and feel like this person could be the key to helping you move forward in your career. This may be true — if you’ve made a great impression, he’s likely to want to help you. But you’ll only see the benefits from an informational interview if you take the time to follow up! Don’t expect that you’re going to be top of mind for this executive at all times after leaving the room — unless you stay in contact, he’s likely to forget about you. After all, he’s busy worrying about his own job. Here are three steps you can take to stay on the radar:
1. Send a thank you note. This should go without saying, but, just as you would in a regular interview, you should send a thank you note to the person you met within 24 hoursof leaving his office. It shows that you’re grateful and understand professional etiquette, which will go a long way.
2. Turn your informational into another one. The person you're meeting with likely has other connections that could help you build your network, and if you play your cards right, you can get an introduction. Sometimes, he'll easily offer to introduce you, but even if that doesn't happen, you can still parlay one meeting into another. Ask a question about a department or position you're interested in that's outside of his department, and he might say something along the lines of, “Oh you should meet with Joe in our current series group at some point.” But your contact simply suggesting the next meeting isn't enough; it's on you to make it happen. BE SURE to include a reminder in your thank you email — something like, “You mentioned during our meeting that I should meet with Joe in the current series group — would it be possible for you to put me in touch with him?” If you forget to ask this question, the executive will probably forget to make the introduction, and even if he remembers, your lack of follow up will indicate that meeting this new person actually isn't all that important to you. And if you don't get the chance to ask for another connection, or the executive doesn't suggest anyone during the meeting, all is not lost. Simply include a polite request in your thank you note — for example, “I learned a lot from our conversation today, and I'm curious about other parts of the company — is there someone in the current series group that it would be possible for me to meet with?” An alternate strategy: Save this question for a couple of weeks, and then reach out — you’ll get the added benefit of reminding your original contact that you exist and want to stay in touch.
3. Check in regularly. You don’t want to be emailing your contact from an informational interview every week, but checking in every month or two is a great idea. One tip: Look out for news articles about that person’s company, and send a congratulatory email. Then, you can include an update about what’s going on with you and where you are in the job search. The holidays provide another great excuse to send an email that doesn’t appear to have an agenda. You don’t want to be constantly asking for help with the job hunt, but it’s good to let people know you're still looking. And then, once you land the perfect job, share your exciting news with all the new contacts that have helped you along the way — they’ll be happy to hear about it!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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