Thank You Letters
To be a successful job-seeker, you must impress the interviewer during the interview, and you must be sure that the good impression lasts. Whether you’re a new job-seeker or a veteran at the game, there is one thing you can do to reinforce that good impression – write a thank-you letter after your interview.
Put yourself in the place of the interviewer. Imagine that you’ve looked through dozens of resumes and have interviewed ten candidates. You can’t make up your mind yet, because you’re too busy with your regular work to give your full attention to the applicants.
Like most hiring managers, you’ve jotted down relevant information about the candidates, and you’re sure that your scribbles will make sense to you later. But, after a day or two, the people you have interviewed begin to blend into a faceless mass in your memory.
Now, along comes a well-written thank-you letter and suddenly the candidate who wrote the letter comes clearly to mind. A very subtle shift has taken place and the candidacy is taken more seriously!
In addition to reminding the prospective employer that you exist, the thank-you letter offers you these vital opportunities:
1) It reconfirms your interest in the position and the company.
2) It stresses relevant points that will strengthen your candidacy.
3) It corrects any negative impressions or clears up confusing issues that surfaced during the interview.
4) It demonstrates your good communication skills.
- Send a letter to every person who interviewed you. If three people saw you in one meeting, send three individual letters. Do not send copies of the same letters.
- Mail the letter within 1 day of your interview. Better yet, email the letter a few hours after your interview.
- Make it a general rule to thank anyone who was especially nice to you. If you phoned for directions and the secretary was helpful, send her a note. Don’t forget, these people may be asked to volunteer their impressions of you. Take a few extra minutes to show that you know good manners.
- The letter should be businesslike. While it can be somewhat friendly, it should never be personal. Thank the interviewer once. Gratitude is fine, but too much gratitude makes you sound unprofessional and desperate.
A PROFESSIONAL OVERTONE
Use a formal greeting, such as “Dear Mr., Ms., or Dr.,” unless you definitely understand that a first-name basis is appropriate. Although it is sometimes acceptable to address an interviewer by her or his first name in person, it is better not to do so in a letter, at least not until you have a genuine working relationship.
Even the way you address the letter leaves an impression. Spell out titles, such as “President” and “Vice President,” rather than using “Pres.” Or “VP.” The use of the entire title is a subtle indicator to the interviewer that you are attentive to details and are willing to do a little extra.
Avoid using the word “interview.” “Meeting” has a more professional overtone.
A good way to begin preparing the letter is to make an outline of the points that were covered in the interview. Try to remember what seemed important to the interviewer. If your letter covers the following five points, you have probably doubled your chances of getting the job:
1) Remind the interviewer of the position for which you were interviewed and the date of the interview.
2) Stress your interest in the position for which you are applying.
3) Emphasize one or two of your strongest talents and slant them toward the interviewer’s concerns.
4) Always include your phone number and the best times you can be reached. It would also be advantageous to include your e-mail address.
5) If possible, close the letter with a suggestion for further action, such as a second meeting.
Typed or Handwritten?
You may type or handwrite your thank-you letter, but the latter may provide an individual touch. Just be sure that your handwriting is legible and that snail mail will fit within the employer’s decision timeline.
Be doubly sure that you’ve spelled the interviewer’s name correctly and that you’ve included the correct title in the address. It’s worth taking a couple of minutes of time to call the company to double check. And, proofread it; four eyes are better than two. Nothing says sloppy more than a misspelled word.
According to an old adage, you never get a second chance at a first impression. In fact, the thank-you letter gives you just that – a chance to improve and strengthen your first impression.
A thank you letter can be one of the most important, yet least used tools in a job search. Use a well-written thank you letter to establish goodwill, express your appreciation, and strengthen your chance at securing the position.