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The Whys and Hows of an Effective Thank-You Letter

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Writing a thank-you letter after an interview is not just polite – it can make or break your chances of getting the job. So why is it that a recent study found that only one in five job seekers takes the time to send thank-you letters? In other words, a staggering 80% of all candidates are not taking advantage of this simple yet highly effective means of shifting odds in their favor. If you are a part of this majority, now’s the time to stop making this career faux pas. This article will not only show you why it’s to your advantage to always send a thank-you letter, we’ll also show you how to write one that effectively gets your message across.

Professionalism is Always in Style
While you have to pay special attention to what you write in your thank-you letter, the fact that you are writing and sending one at all already gives you an edge over most of your competition. “Many business practices may have changed, but a thank-you note has and will always be a basic part of business etiquette,” says Human Resources practitioner Jennifer Griffiths. “A thank-you letter is, to many managers, one of the most important components of the interviewing process. It can speak volumes about an applicant’s interest in the position, his or her personality, as well as appreciation for the interview opportunity.”

An Uninterrupted Sales Pitch
For some experts, writing thank-you letters is not just a nice touch, but a must. “Writing a thank-you note after an employment interview is a must,” says Alison Doyle,’s Job Search authority. “In fact, some employers think less of those interviewees who fail to follow-up promptly. Plan to send out your thank-you letters as soon as possible (preferably within twenty-four hours, no later than two business days) after your interview.” Doyle adds that, in addition to being a means for expressing your thanks for the interviewer taking time to meet with you, a thank-you letter gives you the opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position and emphasize why you are the ideal candidate for the job. The letter is also a perfect opportunity to discuss anything of importance that your interviewer neglected to ask or that you neglected to answer as thoroughly as possible. Remember the saying, “Hindsight is 20/20”? The thank-you letter is an excellent vehicle for conveying any thoughts that you now realize can win over the interviewer – that you have the luxury of having the time to perfect how you say it is an added bonus. Keep in mind though, that the thank-you note should be brief and to the point. Three brief paragraphs that fit within a single page should be sufficient.

Getting Your Message Through
According to A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market author Katharine Hansen, there’s no preferred format for a thank-you letter. “The important thing is doing it,” says Hansen. “Tailor your letter to the culture of the company and the relationship you established with the person who interviewed you. If you feel the interviewer and the company call for a formal business letter, send that. If your rapport with the interviewer dictates a more personal touch, send a handwritten note.”

If time is of the essence, or if you feel it is more appropriate, then by all means send your thank-you letter via e-mail. Once seen as too impersonal and lacking warmth, e-mailed thank-you notes have gained increased acceptance. If you are interviewing with a high-tech company, for instance, the interviewer may expect your response electronically. Also, if when interviewing you get the sense the interviewer prefers electronic correspondence over paper, e-mailing could work to your advantage. One benefit of e-mailing a thank-you letter is that it can be saved in your “Sent” folder, which means you not only have a copy of the letter, but also a record of when you sent it out.

Regardless of how you choose to convey your thanks, remember that your letter is, first and foremost, a business correspondence. Avoid cute stationery, smiley faces (or other emoticons), and make sure to proofread it and carefully check for any grammatical or spelling errors.

Tips For Writing Effective Thank-You Letters

  • Remember, not many people take the time to send thank-you letters – your sending one can give you an important advantage!
  • Keep your letters short and simple – they should be no more than a page long
  • Ask for your interviewers’ business card/s during the interview to ensure you have accurate information such as their titles, the correct spelling of their names, and their address
  • Help your interviewer remember who you are by referring to specific points discussed in your interview. This will also show that you were paying attention during the interview
  • Emphasize your qualifications and what makes you a particularly ideal for the position
  • Include important information that may have been overlooked during the interview or that was specifically requested by the interviewer
  • Express your continued interest and enthusiasm for the position
  • Be sure your letters are professional – typos, grammatical errors and ‘cute’ stationery are not acceptable
  • Send your letter within 24 hours, or two business days at the latest – any later and it might not have desired effect!

Anatomy of a Basic Thank-You Letter
(This is in modified block format – for more personal thank-you notes, you may omit the address blocks and put in the date before the salutation.)

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email

Today’s Date

Recipient’s Name
Recipient’s Title
Recipient’s Organization
Recipient’s Address
Recipient’s City, State, Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

First paragraph: Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you (mention the date). Remind him/her of the position for which you interviewed.

Second paragraph: Restate your interest in the position and the company/school/organization. Mention something you learned from the interview or comment on something of importance that you discussed. Again, emphasize your strengths, experiences, skills, accomplishments and slant them towards the points that the interviewer considered the most important for the position.

Third paragraph: Once again, thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration. If appropriate, close with a suggestion for further action (if a second interview is a possibility), or mention that you will follow up with a phone call in a few days. Provide your phone number and the hours you can best be reached.

Your Signature
Your Typewritten Name

If you need additional assistance with thank-you letters, simply contact an AppleOne office. Our trained career counselors can help you write effective thank-you letters, as well as assist you in all the other aspects of you job search.

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