Minding Your Pleases and Thank Yous, Part II

by Laura Merrill, Manager of Cooperative Education

A Note of Thanks
Now this is a dying art form. While many polls conducted by vault.com indicate employers prefer and are impressed by applicants who thank them after an interview (or social meeting or golf outing), many applicants don’t bother sending them. If you want to have an edge over your competition, don’t be that applicant!

Let me tell you why you should write a thank-you note: Your potential employer will be glad you did. But there’s more to it than that. What if you screw up on part of your interview? No problem. Write a thank-you letter that reinvents you on the point of contention. For example, if you’re interviewer was concerned that you did a lot of job hopping, let them know in your thank-you letter that you’ve kept in touch with previous employers and are still on good terms with them.

Why else? You can prove to your potential boss that you were paying attention in the interview by highlighting things they indicated were most important in this job. You can make the first impression a lasting one. Finally, with a crisp, well-written thank-you note sent within 24 hours of your interview, you can show the employer you are both gracious and professional.

Tips on creating a thank-you note that scores points with the interviewer:
The big question: Should I type my thank-you letter or hand-write a thank-you note? Or is it okay to send a simple email message? The answer to these questions depends on your personal style, the attitude of the employer, and the type of company you’re hoping will hire you. If you prefer the personal nature of a hand-written note and—this is important—your handwriting is good, then by all means, hand-write your thank-you note. This would also be appropriate where the culture of the company is business casual. On the other hand, a more corporate employer may appreciate a formal thank-you letter, professionally and tactfully written. Dot.com companies and those whose hiring managers prefer electronic communication would be fine with an email thank-you. If you’re not sure and have to guess, choose the more formal approach.

To whom do you send your thank-you letter? First and foremost, a letter should go to the person who is hiring for the position and at the very least should include a note of thanks to anyone else who was involved in the interview process. However, if you spoke to a panel of interviewers in a marathon interview session, you’ll want to send a letter to everyone involved.

Which brings me to my next point. Make sure you get a business card from everyone on the interviewing team so you know the correct spelling of everyone’s name and his or her appropriate title. If an interviewer didn’t provide one, ask, and write down his or her name during the interview and then call the company receptionist for the proper spelling and title. There’s nothing more distasteful than a well-written thank-you inappropriately addressed to Mr. Smith instead of the correct Mr. Smyth. That’s one way to ensure your resume goes to the trash bin.

So what should you include in your thank you letter? There are five essentials:

  • A statement of your appreciation for the interview.
  • An expression of your interest in working for the company.
  • A brief summary of your qualifications.
  • A closing “thank you.”
  • If desired, the date you plan to follow up.

For more information on writing cover letters and thank-you notes, visit www.vault.com.

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