The Finer Points of Thank You Notes

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Manners don't seem to be enjoying the respected status they once had. In many ways technology has made society less formal (think of the loose etiquette associated with cell phones and e-mail, not to mention dress down business days). Job seekers looking to make themselves memorable in potential employers' minds still have a graceful, time-tested tool - the thank you note. Whether it's a formal, personalized letter, card or a polite e-mail, it's a common courtesy that can help. "A simple post-interview thank you note never goes out of style" says Human Resources Director Marilyn Hall. Here are some of the finer points for job seekers to follow when it's time to show gratitude after an interview.

Spread it Around
Whether you are referred by someone or there is an individual who did you a favor by giving you a phone number or e-mail, send a thank you note. "I've heard stories about receptionists who chatted with people before their interviews and ended up getting thank you letters," says Hall. "Later, when that person is hired, they realize that favorable reviews from receptionists or assistants helped their cause." The sharp applicant recognizes that everyone contributes to his or her success and thanks them for it. The thank you can be sent by snail mail or by e-mail as long as it reaches the recipient in timely fashion.

Time is of the Essence
One of the benefits of a thank you note is that it reminds the potential employer about you and your interest in the position. That means the time to do it is right after your interview or meeting. For instance, if you have lunch with someone who gives you a referral, don't procrastinate. Although the rule of thumb is that you have 24 hours, it's best to send a thank you as soon as you get home.

Make it Fit
In general, the purpose of a thank you letter is to show appreciation for an interview, express interest in a position, and remind the interviewer of your qualifications. Weigh in the personality of your interviewer and the company's culture when you are trying to decide the details of what you want to include in your letter. Typed letters are acceptable, but handwritten notes or cards convey an appreciative, less formal tone. If you were interviewed by a group of people and are devising a group letter, make it reflect the personality of the organization. If you decide to write individual letters to each member of a group, make each one a little different by personalizing it.

Check it Twice
Neatness counts, and always check for grammar mistakes, typos and misspellings. Pay special attention to getting the names of interviewers spelled right with correct titles. Keep in mind that writing skills are important for many positions, and employers will be turned off by those who haven't mastered this basic skill.

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