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A Personalized Handwritten Thank You Note: Why Bother?

I discussed the importance of sending a handwritten thank you note after job interviews in my Leadership and Career Management class. A student asked me: “Can’t I write an e-mail?” I could tell she felt “shocked” when she heard “handwritten.” Seriously, why do we bother to “write” a thank you note in the 21st Century?

Several days ago, I celebrated my birthday. A friend of mine mailed me a personalized handwritten birthday card. Does it sound very old-fashioned and out-dated? Yes, it is, but I love it! Especially, I very much appreciate my friend’s time and attention. Likewise, the purpose of sending a thank you note after job interviews is to remind the recruiters (a) how serious you are, (b) how much interest you have for the job, and (c) how much attention and respect you show to the recruiters. Nowadays, people may receive hundreds of e-mails per day (one of the technology trends). A thank you e-mail will very likely be filtered as “spam.” Even if the e-mail goes through, how much attention do you think a recruiter will pay to that message? If e-mail is not an option, how about typing a thank you note and just signing a name in the end? In my opinions, a typed thank you note looks too “genetic” and lacks of “personal touches.” Here, I would like share some suggestions of writing a personalized thank you note:

1. It needs to be short and specific. Thank you note is not a letter or a resume.
2. A “personal touch” makes a thank you note special. You may follow up with a particular discussion or conversation between you and the interviewers in one or two sentences.
3. Engage with the recruiters by asking intellectual questions about the job or the company or by reminding recruiters your interest of the job.
4. Even though it is a handwritten document, it must be error-free. Good penmanship is also helpful.
5. It must be mailed within two business days after an interview is completed.
6. If available, you may mail it together with your business card.

In reality, a personalized handwritten thank you note could become a hiring factor. What do you think? What are your suggestions?

References:
Picture was copied from http://learnthat.com/files/2008/01/thank-you-note.jpg

Comments

  1. I definitely agree with the fact that a thank you note is for sure a much more personalized touch. No doubt if i send a thank you card then that will definitely stand out in comparison to the numerous emails that recruiters most likely receives almost daily. However, the only down side I feel for thank you notes are that even though they would be mailed out to recruiters within two business days after an interview, by the time it reaches the employers, it would be another two days or more before they receive it. Thus, I think most people prefer thank you emails more than thank you notes because it is just a faster way of communication while the recruiters may still have a recollection of who you are. Waiting for another couple of days may lead to a more blurred image of who they interviewed even though the notes would be a great act of sincerity.

    I would suggest sending thank you notes to those companies are located closer to wherever you are sending them out from so it will reach the recruiters quicker, as opposed to sending them across the country lets say. Although I do understand that situations do vary so I do agree that possibly in the future this may become one of the hiring factors.

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  2. You made a point here, Sharon. What if we write an e-mail and mail a real thank you note?

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  3. I think if it was both then that would be the best case scenario, if candidates really want this particular job and make the thank you note even more brief than usual so it does not get too repetitive.

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  4. I never wrote a handwritten thank-you letter (only typed), but a thank-you letter shows proper etiquette and attention-to-detail. At the same time, I don't know if I'd say a T-Y letter would be what "gets you the job" unless you were already a strong candidate along with another strong candidate who did not send a letter. In this case, the job likely goes to the one who went that extra step to write the letter. Also know that if you didn't successfully sell yourself during the interview, a T-Y letter won't change the interviewer's mind.

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