It might *seem* like common sense, but a surprising number of job candidates are missing a step in the job-application process: Following up with a note of thanks.
When it comes to the process of applying for a job, you can only have so much certainty; the variables of what can go right and what can go wrong are infinite. Was my resume font too avant grade? Did I have this bit of parsley stuck in my teeth the entire time I was doing my interview?!
There’s one thing that’s absolutely certain, though: You should send a thank you note after you do an interview. But the thing is, this message seems to have been lost in the shuffle somewhere between the era of Emily Post and the advent of emails. But email thank you notes totally count.
According to a survey conducted by executive search firm Chaloner last year, 75 percent of hiring managers and interviewers did not receive thank you notes (of any kind) from interviewees, and for 30 percent of those hiring managers, that oversight was a deal breaker. Whoops.
“A follow-up note is an absolute must…”
As career coach Katie Gage puts it, “I don’t call it a thank you note, because it’s so much more than that. It is not an afterthought or just a required nicety,” she says. “A follow-up note is an absolute must and can give the candidate an edge in the interview process, even if they aren’t the top candidate.”
Our collective lapse in basic interview etiquette aside, the good news is that writing a thank you note is really quite easy—especially considering you’ve already jumped through a bunch of hoops to land the interview in the first place.
Here’s how to ensure you’re covering all your bases and give yourself the best shot of leaving a good impression.
Email vs. keeping it intimate with a handwritten note
Depending on the context, a handwritten note can really set you apart from the crowd, and Neely Raffelini, founder of career consultancy the 9 to 5 Project, acknowledges that it can be a nice personal touch. But with the pace of things nowadays, you don’t necessarily want to run the risk of your thank you note getting lost in the shuffle of everyday chaos.
Thus, email is always a safer bet. “But why not do a combination of the two?” she says. “Send an email thank you note after the interview, and drop a handwritten note in the mail as a follow-up to remind your potential employer why you are the best candidate.”
Career strategist Avery Blank reiterates that time is of the essence here, recommending that an email thank you should be sent within 24 hours of your interview. “They could be making hiring decisions that day, so don’t run the risk of losing the opportunity to communicate before decisions are made,” she cautions.
Keep it short, sweet, attentive and memorable
By this point, the interviewer should know quite a bit about you; they’ve read your cover letter, looked at your resume, and talked to you either in person or over the phone. While it might be tempting to think of a thank you note as additional real estate to make the case for why you’re the best candidate for the job, there’s a thin line to walk here.
“Be brief,” says Blank. “Thank the interviewer for their time, and briefly emphasize an aspect of the conversation that resonated with you, or share something about yourself or a resource that reminded you of your conversation.”
Raffelini adds that while you don’t want to overthink it, it canserve as an opportunity to touch on anything that might’ve gotten left out during your interview. “We all have those moments where we walk out the door and think, ‘I should’ve said…,’ and a thank you note is your opportunity to do just that,” she says.
“But generally speaking, a good rule is to keep it to what you discussed in the interview. And don’t forget to say thanks, include your contact information, and reiterate your interest in the position.”
And Blank reiterates the importance of understanding the entire process, from application to follow-up thank-yous, as a wholistic process: “Everything a candidate does when interacting with an organization is part of the interview, so every opportunity to interact, including the follow-up note, should be thoughtful, professional, and portray to the organization what you bring to the table.”