Make Your Thank You Note Stand Out

Writing a thank-you note after a job interview gives you another opportunity to make a good impression on a prospective employer. Make it count. Here are points to cover on the road to making that prospective employer your new boss.
Thank you note job

Email or handwritten note?

A handwritten note used to be the standard, but the digital age has made an email thank you acceptable and often preferred. “I’ve quickly learned that a handwritten note is not the best way to do it,” one hiring manager says. “Email is probably the best in a business environment. It takes me forever to get something sent snail mail. I may have already decided who is going to get the job by the time I get the note. I think it’s OK to send an email thank you. It’s a quicker way to remind the interviewer you’re interested.”

If you interviewed with more than one person at the company, send each one a separate thank you—no cutting and pasting, says Toby Haberkorn, an executive search consultant and co-author of "Best Job Search Tips For Age 60-Plus: A Practical Work Options Resource For Baby Boomers." “People sometimes pass these emails around,” Haberkorn says.

And don’t delay: send your thank-you email within 24 hours.

Show appreciation

Thank the interviewers for their time and for sharing the responsibilities, expectations and challenges of the position, says career coach Sherri Thomas, author of "The Bounce Back" and "Career Smart." 

If the interview was an informational session, show extra appreciation. “It could be a link to a case study, special report, website, conference or training event that you think could help them in their job,” Thomas says. “It may also be an offer to introduce them to someone influential in your own network. I just received a thank-you note that included a $25 gift card link to Starbucks.”

Show you paid attention

Show you were paying attention by summarizing major points of the interview. You can also reference something you and the interviewer discussed—whether it was a particular issue related to the job or the interviewer’s plans to see a football game that weekend, one hiring manager says.

Show passion

Express passion for both the job and the organization. "I've talked to hundreds of CEOs and hiring managers and asked the question, ‘Is there something someone could say during a job interview that would make you want to hire her?’ The answer is always, ‘Be passionate about the job and be passionate about the company.’"

Prove you’re excited and ready to hit the ground running, help the team and excel, Thomas says. List three or four bullet points of key projects, programs and tasks you'll be owning and driving. Or, outline how you'll gather information from team members to inform yourself, notes another hiring manager.

Showcase your strengths

Remind the interviewer of your strengths. Even though you did this during the interview, the interviewer has many candidates to keep straight. “Say something like, ‘Through my seven-year career as a project manager in the healthcare industry, I have a proven track record of being an innovative problem solver and inspiring team leader' and then list three or four bullet points of your major career successes,” Thomas says.

Neutralize your weaknesses

If you got home and thought, ‘I wish I had answered that question better or remembered to tell the interviewer about a key point,’ the thank you note is your chance to improve or correct the record.. “Sometimes you’re so nervous during an interview that you don’t represent your best self,” Haberkorn says. You could write: “In response to your question about X, here are projects I’ve worked on that definitely relate to that part of our discussion.”

Close with a call to action

In the final paragraph, restate your enthusiasm, and let the interviewer know you’re excited about the possibility of working with him and the company. Show you’ve bought into the company’s mission. One prospect sealed the deal by referencing something discussed in the interview and saying ‘I’d like to be on the podium with you talking about our success.’

Encourage the interviewer to contact you if she has more questions or needs more information. Make it easy to do so. Even though you already sent your resume with contact information, provide that information again.

Just by writing a thank-you note, period, you’ll stand out above the crowd. Out of 200 people who applied for one job, 10 got phone interviews and six got in-person sessions. Four got second interviews and reference calls.

“Of the four, I was the only one who sent a thank-you note to all involved. It proved to tilt the balance in my favor.” So says the man who got the job.


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