Do Thank You Notes Really Matter?

YES!

EVERYBODY sends a Thank You note after an interview… Right? Wrong!

Having been in the Employment Placement industry for 23 years, I’ve found that only around 10% to 20% of candidates actually send a Thank You note after an interview. And of those, fewer still send one after each interview at a company. Even though I coach all my candidates to send one after interviews I set up for them, only around half actually do it! Yet if you ask any of them if they think it’s a good idea, they will almost always say it is!

But do they really make a difference as to who gets hired? It’s the person that’s the closest match to the job… isn’t it?

No. It isn’t.

Over the years, I have seen a number of times where it’s not the most qualified, or closest match candidate that gets the offer, but rather the one that seems to want the job the most and expresses that enthusiasm professionally. That is often determined by the fact that one sent a Thank You note expressing their interest and the other did not.

It shows that the person is thinking about the job, even after the interview is over. It shows that the person has follow through. It shows that the person is thoughtful, and is more likely to relate well to people at the company. Whether those things are actually true or not, it certainly creates that impression.

So here are some tips to do it successfully:

~ In today’s job market, send a Thank You email the same day after your interview. Sending one by mail is nice, but speed is of the essence. You don’t want them to make a decision on someone else before they see your note! Sending an email immediately, followed up by a ‘snail mail’ note is even better.

~ Keep it brief! If they open your note, and see a long letter, they’re not likely to even read the first couple of lines. They are busy and don’t have the time. If they see a couple of short paragraphs, they will likely read the whole thing.

~ Give one or two reasons you believe the position is a good match, based on their criteria discussed in the interview, and express your interest in pursuing the next steps. That’s all that’s necessary. Short and Sweet.

~ Be professional! No matter how well you got along with them in the interview, do not assume a personal or casual relationship in  your note. Getting hired for a job is a business transaction, treat it that way.

~ Be meticulous! Any points you may score by sending a note, will be diminished by poor grammar, mis-spelled words, or poor handwriting. Proofread it carefully several times, have someone else check it, and proofread it again before you send it.

A well written and timely Thank You note can make the difference between getting an offer and getting a “We chose someone else” letter. Send one every time. If you’re not sure it’s appropriate, send one anyway. I have never seen anyone get rejected because they sent too many Thank You’s!


Author:

Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives and writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search.


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Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.

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Comments

  1. laid0ff says:

    I wrote about this very same topic, but wrote from the position of questioning whether to send an e-mail thank you letter vs. a handwritten thank you letter.

    http://laid0ff.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/thank-you-letter/

    You can check that out and offer your insight. It has turned into a healthy discussion on the Downsized-Congrats forum on Linkedin.

    Very good advice in this posting. You make mention of the email vs snail mail with "Sending an email immediately, followed up by a ‘snail mail’ note is even better.", but I'm finding that people are on various ends of this issue. Many say "mail it"; a similar number says email is just as acceptable and a growing few say to do both: do the email immediately after, but mail a note a day later so that you're in their mind again.

    I'm going with the mixing of both at this point, but still have not made a firm decision on the matter.

    Thank you for your post!

  2. Jeremy says:

    Interesting piece – We tell our clients to always send a thank you note. Obviously hand written if possible.

    During a recent association event several job search coaches had the opportunity to ask a panel of hiring managers, from some of largest companies in Seattle (yes, them), different questions. We asked if thank you notes were appreciated. One interesting response, "I love hand written thank you notes. I replace each old note with a new note when received. The current note I have in my cubicle has been there for 6 months."

    Wouldn't it be nice to have your thank you note staring that person in the face for 6 months?

    Jeremy Worthington
    http://www.buckeyeresumes.com

  3. Jeff says:

    What is the effort/expense involved in sending in a thank you note versus the potential return on the investment. Do the math! It is certainly good protocol. Great tips provided in this post. Here's some more info on the subject:
    http://jefflipschultz.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/the-art-of-the-thank-you-note/

    Cheers!
    Jeff

  4. JShaw says:

    Here's a true story about my self about and how I got this position 6 years ago.
    I went in for a interview for a sales potion with a quick phone interview before hand explaining some of my strengths and my background. I shared how my biggest strength was my relationships building. Well wouldn't you know it I bombed the interview the worst I have ever done, even to the point where the VP said your not impressing me too much with your strength. I walked out of the office with my tail between my legs, and I'm not even a dog. That bad. All the way home I went over the interview in my head. I finally concluded that I knew I was perfect for the job and just had a bad day. So I wrote a thank you letter but also included some reasons with examples on why I should get a second chance. They were so impressed that I was honest, straight forward and took the time to send the letter, actually it was an email. That I did get s second chance and well I'm still here today as their top producer and consultant.
    So there's my personal experience that sending follow letters matter big time.

    Jason Shaw
    shaw.jasonm@gmail.com

  5. schwaigen says:

    I used to work in Human Resources for a very famous chocolate company. Receving a thank you note after an interview was always deemed positive. The note almost certainly encouraged us to look at the application again and review the interview notes.

    Sadly not many candidates think to write a thank you note or letter after interview

  6. A couple of months ago, I interviewed for a part-time position at a medical software company. I met with the office manager, the girl I'd be replacing (she was being promoted) and several higher-ups in the company. The interview went well, and I sent each person an individualized thank you note.
    Several weeks went by, and I never heard from them, and the several times I tried to touch base with them, they never replied. Maybe a month after the interview, a "We chose someone else" letter came in the mail.
    I still think it's a good technique, but in this case, there was no return on my investment.

  7. Jay says:

    Thank you notes are a great idea! If only to keep common courtesy and good manners alive in a business world that seems to becoming colder with each day. The other benefit is that YOU feel more professional which is important, especially if you didn't get chosen for the job; your attitude will be better for the next interview.

  8. Eyzarblu says:

    Absolutely crucial. But I wouldn't send it the same day. Would wait a day or two to show that you're thinking about the role (include a few questions not covered) and career with the company, but too soon and it shows desperation.

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  1. Some more personal hints ... | Job Stalker says:

    [...] One of this week's "list of links" is a piece from Career Rocketeer which looks at the question Do Thank You Notes Really Matter?.  Written by a recruiter, it points out that only about 10% to 20% of interviewees send cards to [...]

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