You might have hated it when your mother told you to say thank you, but the truth is it’s good advice – even today, and especially during a job search. Not only are thank you notes an essential part of the process, but overlooking them could end up costing you the job.
If a candidate doesn’t send a note after meeting with me, that’s the end of the process for that candidate,’ says Doug Gerlach, vice president of strategic business development for BetterInvesting, Inc., an investment education organization headquartered in Madison Heights, Mich. “A thank-you note lets me know that the job seeker is serious, conscientious, and interested in the position that we’re offering.”
In fact, this oversight is seen as a slight. “It’s amazing how common courtesy has gone out the door,” says Cathy Fyock, director of recruiting for consultant Resources Global Professionals, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. She’s also the author of five books, including The Truth About Hiring the Best. “I’m surprised at how few thank you notes I get.”
Timing is Everything
Not only should you send a note after an interview, but you’d best do it fast. “The thank you must be sent within 24 hours of the interview,” says Gerlach.
Though the delivery method is a matter of preference, most hiring managers lean toward e-mail. “E-mail is fine – even preferred, since it’s much more immediate and we live in a cyber age.”
And, if that’s the way you’ve been communicating thus far, it only makes sense. “I prefer to receive an e-mail right away, while I’m still thinking about the person,” Fyock says.
Still, there are those whose preferences are old school. “A thank you note can be handwritten or typed but, as the person on the receiving end, I prefer a handwritten note,” says Sandy Allgeier, a former corporate HR executive and author of The Personal Credibility Factor. “If you’re going to type it, be sure to jot a personal note on the page before you send it.”
If you’re tempted to dash off this obligatory note and hit “send” or throw that card in the mailbox, hold on. Chances are good the hiring manager is going to take a close look at what you’ve said.
“The ‘perfect’ thank you note will go beyond merely acknowledging the interview, and will express the candidate’s excitement about the company and the position,” says Gerlach. “And, without being too heavy-handed about it, it will reiterate some point made in the interview that demonstrates how he or she is the right person for the job.”
Not only is this your chance to show off your manners, it’s an opportunity to say what you might have left out at the interview. “If, after you walk out the door, you remember something you wished you’d shared, you’ve got another chance,” says Fyock. “A thank-you note is the perfect place to add a little snippet, strike a chord, highlight an achievement.”
Finally, don’t overdo it. “When I receive a thank you note that’s long and detailed, I find it a little bit strange,” Fyock confesses. “It has a certain ring of neediness to it, of someone who’s trying too hard. It doesn’t send the right message.”
— Amy Rauch Neilson