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How to Say Thank You
November 2009

In today's difficult job market, having fantastic follow up skills will set you apart from many other job seekers. Your ability to follow up in an appropriate and timely manner will show your interest and ability to take initiative. One of the best methods of following up after an interview is through the “thank you” letter.

Thank you letters are critical, not just after an interview, but during the job search process itself. You should be sending thank you/follow up letters for reasons such as:

  • A contact provided you helpful insight or information about a company or position.
  • Someone introduces you to a new contact.
  • You visit a contact at work for an informational meeting.
  • You have an interview.
  • You meet someone at an event and want to develop a good relationship.

One of the biggest challenges is to know when to send a hard copy, hand written or e-mail thank you letter. In last month's Career Zone, we polled readers as to which method they used to follow up. Approximately 60% say they e-mail a thank you letter, 23% still mail a thank you letter and 17% say that it's an outdated practice.

Hard copy thank you letters are the most formal and are always appropriate after an interview.  Handwritten notes are more personal and can be appropriate after an interview or for follow up. E-mail is appropriate if your contact has expressed that as his or her preferred method of communication. You can also use e-mail if you want to send a quick thank you to be followed up by hard copy or handwritten letter.

Following the guidelines below will help you have fantastic follow up after an interview or professional contact.

Be Prepared
Bring a handful of blank notes or thank you cards and a packet of stamps with you on every interview. That way once you leave the interview you can quickly write your thank you notes to each individual and put them in the mail immediately. Be sure to take the business card and/or contact information of each person you meet during the interview process so that you can contact them directly.

Show Enthusiasm
Be specific about why you are interested in the position and company. Explain why you are a good fit and convey your interest.

Address Unresolved Issues
If you walked away from the interview thinking you left something unresolved or did not fully answer a question, now is your chance to correct the situation. The thank you letter gives you another chance to make a good impression.

Customize It
A generic thank you letter will not set you apart from the many other interviewees the hiring manager met with. Be sure to highlight a point or two from your interview that the person will likely remember, thus remembering you.

Emphasize Your Expertise
What were the key issues or skills that the hiring manager mentioned were critical for success in this position during the interview? Be sure to highlight how you can be successful in the role and exceeded those needs.

Remember, after an interview, thank you notes should be sent within 24 hours.

With the holidays approaching many people will be making resolutions to find that dream job. Your résumé and cover letter are the first impression you make on any recruiter and hiring manager. Next month we will begin a series on résumés that will get you noticed. So start to think about what you do and how you do it better than anyone else!

Want to see a sample of a general thank you letter? Click here to view.