How to Write Thank You Notes for Interviews and Other Professional Occasions

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In 2016, York Technical Institute found that less than 4% of applicants sent thank you notes after interviewing. Talk about standing out to employers…

But why is that number so low? We’ve all been told about how important it is, so it’s not due to lack of awareness. And it only takes a couple minutes to write a few sentences and walk to the mailbox, so it’s not time constraints either.

The embarrassing truth is that thank you cards scare us; our culture is moving so far away from them that they have basically become a foreign concept. In an attempt to help us all overcome this irrational fear, below are some helpful guidelines and tips on how to successfully write a professional thank you note.

Professional Occasions to Send a Card For:

  • Interview: This shows that you are legitimately interested in the job, and reminds the employer why you are an ideal candidate.
  • References/letters of recommendation: Keep yourself in a good relationship with those willing to stick their neck out for you.
  • Professional appreciation: There are many people that have helped you along the way to get you to where you are today. Show them that their work hasn’t gone unnoticed, and they’ll be more likely to help you get to where you want to be tomorrow.
  • Other instances: Employee letters, customer letters, business letters, exclusive events.

Basic Layout of the Card:

1. Greeting: just cause this step is obvious doesn’t make it unimportant. A letter that doesn’t open with a specific name seems insincere from the start.

2. Express thanks: say the words “thank you”, but also try to creatively thank them in a specific way for their actions/contribution (favorite takeaway from an event, confirmed interest in a career, etc.)

3. Look ahead: mention that you look forward to seeing them again, or reference a specific planned meeting if you can. This shows that while you are thankful, you are more invested in the relationship than the event/networking/etc.

4. State thanks again in closing: make sure to reword this to avoid being repetitive.

Thank You FAQs:

  • Are email “thank you” notes okay? …handwritten is almost always preferred, but emails are okay too! Contexts where emails are more appropriate include: you received the original invitation for an event via email; a short note to someone you’re on familiar terms with; time is an important factor (example: job interview).
  • Can I type up my note? …again, handwritten is usually preferred. With that being said, if your handwriting is illegible, better to have a readable typed message than a scrawled out cursive one. Typing your card is becoming more acceptable, so it’s a satisfactory alternative.
  • When to send? …ASAP, especially if it could have a factor on something (hiring decision, etc.). Consider including an apology if it’s more than a month after the event. While not ideal, remember that a thank you note received late is better than none at all!
  • Does it actually make a difference? …absolutely. As a previous recruiter, I can testify that even a quick, simple email from a candidate after an interview came across as very professional and polite. It also felt like a bonus interaction with the candidate, which is a great way to stick out before a hiring decision is made.

Additional Thank You Tips:

  1. Thank you notes are an opportunity to include something you forgot to say during the event/meeting!
  2. To group, or not to group? Sometimes one thank you note to a group of people should suffice, other times it makes more sense to send individual cards. Context is key here (What is the company culture? How similar were the different interviews?).
  3. Don’t use printer paper. Just don’t do it. Get something that says you put in a little extra effort.
  4. Read other templates or examples before writing your own. This can help you know what type of content to include or help with ideas for potential layouts. However, be sure to make it personal. Simply inserting your information into a pre-made note can come across as stiff and insincere.
  5. PROOF READ. Do this out loud. You’ll be shocked at what you catch. At least triple check that you spelled the names correctly. A thank you note is a great way to make an extra impression, so make sure it’s a positive one!
  6. Be concise; make sure you say what you want/need to, but people don’t want to read a book.

Any favorite tips that we missed? Please comment below and join in the fight against thank-you-note-phobia!

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