In a competitive job market, just one wrong move during the application process can take you out of contention for the position you seek. Not sending a thank-you note after an employment interview is one of those wrong moves. In fact, no thank-you note may translate into “no, thank you” from an employer that was considering hiring you.
A thank-you note is a chance for you to make a lasting, positive impression on a hiring manager who may have interviewed dozens of candidates. Nearly nine out of 10 executives polled by Robert Half International said sending a brief letter after an interview can boost a job seeker’s chances of landing the position.
Here are some tips for writing a winning thank-you note:
Keep it formal. After an interview, some job seekers use their cell phones or PDAs to send off a quick thank-you note to the hiring manager — in “text speak.” But hiring managers won’t be impressed by “thx 4 ur time.” Just as you wouldn’t wear shorts and flip-flops to an interview, avoid such informal language, which could come off as unprofessional. Also, saying thanks so quickly after the interview makes it seem like you haven’t given the meeting proper thought — that you’re sending the note as routine, not because you truly appreciate the opportunity. A better tactic is to send an e-mail message to thank the interviewer within 24 hours of the interview. Then, follow up with a letter sent through the regular mail.
Be specific. In your note, bring up points from the conversation you had with the hiring manager. For example, if a prospective employer stressed that the open position calls for knowledge of a particular software program, use the thank-you letter as an opportunity to remind the person that you’ve worked with the application on a range of projects.
Repeat yourself. While a lot of what you include in your thank-you note may seem repetitive, remember that a hiring manager who has interviewed a dozen candidates may not remember all the specifics about your skills and experience. Just like an advertising campaign for a consumer product, a certain amount of repetition is necessary to distinguish yourself from the competition.
Make it personal. If you discovered the hiring manager shares your passion for travel or mystery books, referring to this commonality could make your letter even more effective. Personalizing the note will remind him or her who you are and that you paid close attention during the interview.
Allay concerns. A thank-note is your chance to address any concerns the hiring manger expressed, especially if you were unable to do so in the interview. Perhaps the interviewer was worried about your lack of industry experience, and during the interview you forgot to mention a temporary position you had in the sector. You can bring it up in your note, along with a few points about how that experience contributed to your knowledge or interest in the field.
Don’t stop at one. If you interviewed with more than one hiring manager, send a thank-you note to each person. Address every letter to a specific individual, even if you have to do some research to uncover the spelling of someone’s name or locate his or her contact information. Also make sure the content of each letter differs; hiring managers often compare notes — literally.
Add an extra. Perhaps during the interview you mentioned an article you recently read that’s relevant to the firm’s business. Send it with your note, along with a brief explanation of why you thought your contact would be interested in the information. Indeed, whether it’s a news article or a link to an interesting Web site, you’ll make yourself more memorable by demonstrating that you’ve gone beyond the basics.
Finally, keep in mind that sending a well-written thank-you note at other points in your job search can be advantageous. This communication shouldn’t be limited solely to the employment interview. It’s also worth sending a short letter of thanks to a contact who clued you in to a job lead, a former colleague who served as a reference or a manager who accepted your request for an informational interview. On the job hunt, the little things count. Displaying good manners can help you forge stronger relationships and ensure people are happy to lend a hand when you need their help again.