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CHS Careerist: Updated Thank You Notes

Hi Belle,

I am in the process of applying for out-of-town jobs and have a few Skype interviews set up. Ordinarily, I would send a paper/snail-mail thank you note (or notes) to my interviewers, but I’m worried that will take too long because it would need to travel across the country. Do you think an email thank you note be okay? That seems informal, but definitely better than nothing.

Thanks! L

Since the start of the blog, I have been an unwavering advocate for paper thank you notes.  However, as hiring moves more into the digital realm, this position is becoming more difficult to maintain.

Paper When Possible.  I still believe that a traditional thank you note goes above and beyond.  It lends a personal touch to a sometimes impersonal process, and a handwritten note should be sent whenever possible.  I recommend elegant, simple stationery (try Crane’s or Etsy) or a simple ‘thank you’ card.

However…If you are unable to follow-up with a thank you card in a timely manner, a well-worded e-mail is also effective.  Thank the interviewer(s) for taking the time, and make it clear that you appreciated having a chance to discuss the position and how your qualifications make you an excellent fit.  Also, remind them of your contact information and tell them that you can make yourself available, should they have further questions.

This e-mail should be sent no more than 24-hours after your interview.  This is not the time to play coy.

The Two-Pronged Approach.  Since you never know how long an employer will take to make a decision, I advocate sending an e-mail within hours of meeting and dropping a card in the mail (or dropping it off) that same day.  This way, your gratitude is expressed in a timely manner, with a personal touch to arrive later.

Don’ts.  Every prospective employer is different, but I don’t know anyone who wants a phone call ‘thank you’.  It feels a little invasive to me, especially since I just talked to you less than a day ago.  E-mail is better.

Also, I’ve never experienced this, but I’ve heard horror stories about text message thank you notes.  While texting maybe de rigueur for younger applicants, most hiring managers are older and disinterested in communicating via text.  I would also advise against Facebook or Twitter thank yous.  (Again, horror stories.)

Thank you notes are important because they close the loop.  Maybe they make a difference, maybe they don’t.  But you want to know that you did everything that you could to get the job when the process is complete.

LEAVE A COMMENT

    12 comments

  1. Sara says:

    Thanks for this! Do you have any tips on how to land a job out of town? Just how to let the employer know you are willing to relocate, tips on suggesting interview venues, how to stand out against local competition– and all without saying you’re looking to move there “for family reasons” and without appearing desparate.

    December 4, 2013/Reply
  2. Maggie says:

    When I was interviewing I was a stickler for writing thank yous. When I finally landed a job– it was my thank you that closed the deal. My boss later told me that out of the 500 people who applied, and 10 that were interviewed, I was the only one to write a thank you. It’s such an easy thing to do– I don’t understand why people skip the step!

    December 4, 2013/Reply
    • neurosciency says:

      i never thought thank you notes were a big deal. but it feels like every time i write thank you notes i get the job/internship/whatever. so i guess they really are important!

      December 4, 2013/Reply
  3. Kelly says:

    While I do value the paper thank you note – and sent one for the first job that I landed – unfortunately I think that email is the only option now. In many industries, interviewers will have made a decision about whether to hire you by COB on the day of your interview, if not by the time you walk out the door. So, emailing within a few hours is critical to close the loop.

    More so than saying thank you, the thank you “note” offers the opportunity to close the loop on the most important part of the job search process. When job searching, we need to all remember to ASK FOR THE JOB. Communicate to the interviewer in no uncertain terms that you want the job, and would accept an offer if extended (if that is true for you). Too often this is a missed step, but interviewees cannot assume that the interviewer knows it.

    December 4, 2013/Reply
  4. Elyse says:

    Ive heard that many interviewers completely ignore thank you notes if they interview enough people. Is this true? Has it just become a “must have” but not anything that adds value?

    December 4, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      If I narrow it down, the ones who sent a thank you get more weight for completing the process and being gracious.

      December 4, 2013/Reply
      • Anna says:

        I work in consulting and thank you e-mails are seen as a sign of interest and valued heavily. Hand-written notes are nice but can take too long to arrive.

        December 4, 2013/Reply
  5. Giggling Gourmand says:

    I’m a huge fan of handwritten thank you notes – but not for job interviews. I’ve ever seen anybody write a card after an interview in my seven years of practicing law and frankly I think it would be noted as kind of strange. Also, I would argue that both a card and an email come off as desperate. I think it’s key to make sure whatever you do it’s in line with whatever the practice is in your field.

    December 4, 2013/Reply
    • Legal Lady says:

      I agree. I’ve done a lot of hiring (in the legal field) and it is very awkward to receive both an email and written thank you note. There is a fine line between being grateful for an interviewee’s time and seeming really desperate.

      December 4, 2013/Reply
  6. Elizabeth says:

    If you’re interviewing for a federal job, don’t forget that mail frequently needs to be irradiated, scanned, opened, sorted, delivered, etc. It takes an additional week or ten days (easily). If you MUST send a thank you note, Fed-Ex/UPS will ensure it arrives in a timely fashion.

    December 4, 2013/Reply
  7. lindsay says:

    If you need ideas on what to write in a thank you note, Ask A Manager is my go-to for all job searching/workplace questions. Her suggestion to think of it as a follow-up note that builds on the conversation could help too: https://www.askamanager.org/2012/06/thank-you-notes-theyre-not-about-thanking-anyone.html

    December 5, 2013/Reply
  8. Whitney says:

    Each time I interview for a job, I bring a box of small, plain thank-you notes in my purse. After the interview, I stop in the lobby or somewhere nearby to write out notes to each person who interviewed me, and then I drop the notes off with the receptionist (or ask the receptionist where I should put the notes so that they’ll end up with the right people). This might seem like overkill to some, but I’ve gotten every job that I’ve interviewed for since college and my bosses – or the hiring managers – have always mentioned afterward how impressed they were with my prompt thank-you notes. So it’s certainly never hurt me!

    December 8, 2013/Reply