The interview’s over – and you are more certain than ever that this is the job for you. All you need to do is dash out a quick thank-you letter. You enter the recipient’s name in the appropriate field on your template and prepare to send out your standard note.
But before you hit the “print” (or “send”) button, you might consider sending a different kind of “thank you” – the kind that turns a simple note of gratitude into another valuable opportunity to clinch the job of your dreams.
Most potential employers appreciate receiving the courtesy of a thank-you note from job candidates. For one thing, it demonstrates your professionalism—and your ability to recap meetings. For another, it shows how serious you really are about the job. Since interviews are very much a two-way street, a letter reiterating your interest in the job can serve as an affirmation to the hiring manager that both the job and the company have value to the outside world. How else will they know you really want this opportunity once you leave the interview?
Email versus formal approach
In the old days, the only way to express thanks for a job interview was to type a thank-you note or sit down and write one out longhand on your personal stationery. Of course, email and social media have changed that approach for many job seekers. Once considered completely impersonal and unprofessional, email has become the norm for thank-you notes, as well as for follow-ups in general.
This has led to a conundrum for job seekers: When should you use email for thank-you notes, and when should you write a more formal letter of gratitude?
Here’s a good rule of thumb: An email approach is a safe bet if the interview was comfortable and low-key, or if the job opportunity is extremely “hot” with an obvious fast track toward hiring. In these situations, you’ll want to keep up the momentum—and make sure your hat stays in the ring for what may be a highly competitive situation. Only email can offer you this kind of instantaneous method of staying connected and top of mind.
On the other hand, if the interview was very corporate (i.e., with the use of formal names and titles, and discussion scope limited to business facts, or needs analysis), a well-crafted, personalized note of thanks typed and hand signed by you will be the more professional way of keeping your name at the front of the pack.
For either approach, the content should generally be the same:
Salutation. Use the person’s first name only if you had a more personable interview. When unsure, stick to the more professional “Mr.” or “Ms.”
Brief thank you. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and interest in you as a candidate.
Recap/interview highlights. If anything stands out in your mind about this particular interview, or if there was something you and the interviewer had in common, this would be the place to mention it again. It could serve as a reminder of common ground at a critical, decision-making moment.
Call to action/next steps. Reiterate your interest—and don’t be afraid to ask for next steps. Let the interview know you are eager to learn more and keep moving forward in the process—and that you are prepared to start soon.
An “extra touch”
Finally, if you are working in a creative (or hotly competitive) field, you might consider taking a more creative approach with your thank-you note. How about using a fun (yet still professional) animated e-card, or offering a few business-enhancing ideas as a sample of what you could contribute? A value-added approach can work wonders to set you apart from run-of-the-mill thank-you notes.
And do you want to know something that will surprise you? Only 57% of job applicants actually even send a thank you in the first place—making it a serious tool for setting yourself apart from the rest of the candidates. Make sure you take that extra step!
Katina Z. Jones is author of more than 28 books on business and lifestyle topics, and is a Co-Visionary specializing in resumes and conscious career alchemy at CrazyHappyWork.com, a division of Get Going Places LLC. You can connect with her via LinkedIn or email (Katina@crazyhappywork.com). Learn more at www.crazyhappywork.com.