Sending a thank you note is the single most important thing you should be doing as a part of your job search efforts.
Many people don’t take the time to even write a short thank you note, so if you write a well thought-out, personal note of appreciation, you will definitely pack a punch and stand out from other job searchers.
And by taking your note to the next level and including valuable information that will “wow” the reader, you’ll build stronger networking relationships, leading to increased job opportunities.
The Differentiating Factor
In my career, I’ve helped many people as they embark on a job search by supplying career advice and resume assistance, making introductions, providing referrals and writing recommendations. I’m happy to help, but surprisingly, it’s rare that I receive any kind of thank you note.
In addition, as a hiring manager, I’ve performed countless interviews and have found that almost no one takes the time to follow up with a letter. When I do get that occasional acknowledgement, I’m left with a positive impression.
Sometimes, if there were a couple of candidates who performed equally well in an interview, the one thing that helped make my final decision was the thank you note. Not only that; there have been cases when I have given a less-qualified candidate an opportunity simply because they showed initiative by sending a note.
Don’t put yourself in the position of potentially losing out on a job just because you didn’t take the time to write a note. It’s very competitive out there, and you can’t afford to take that chance.
How to Write a Note That Sets You Apart
It doesn’t stop there. Not only does a thank you note express appreciation; it’s a powerful tool that will propel you to the top of the candidate list if done correctly. (Like this thought? Tweet it!)
Most advice you receive on composing a well-written note provides you with the basics of what to include. I’m also going to include the best ways you can differentiate your note and grab the attention of the reader.
Whether you write a thank you note using the old-fashioned approach of pen and paper, or use the now more-common virtual methods like email or social media, there are certain elements you should always include. If you really want to make an impact, incorporate additional relevant information that will keep you at the top of the reader’s mind and leave them with a powerful impression of you.
Follow this basic outline to supercharge your note for maximum impact:
1. Opening Paragraph
Use your opening paragraph to thank your contact or interviewer. Describe what you’re showing appreciation for.
- For an interviewer, this is simply a note to thank this person for their time.
- For someone who helped you during your job search, did they provide you with a referral? Did you have a networking meeting? Did this person share information with you about your target company? Point out how this person helped and thank them for their time.
2. Main Body of the Letter
This is where you want to shine. You need to write new content for this section for each note so it’s clear you’re writing a personal letter and not sending a generic one.
You should include at least one of the following tips to make an impact and leave an unforgettable impression:
- Highlight important aspects of your discussion. This will demonstrate that you listened and found value in the conversation.
- Recap why you would make a good candidate for the position. Remind them of your key qualifications and how you will add value in the position you’re interested in.
- Share a story about how you used your skills to demonstrate results in a prior position. Use statistics, if possible, to show measurable outcomes. This will help someone visualize your experience and remember you when making a referral.
- Write about a special skill you bring to the table that you didn’t bring up during your conversation, and describe how it will benefit your prospective employer.
- Further articulate ways you can add value and what makes you the best candidate for the job you’re seeking. Be creative here and find ways you may be able to contribute beyond the basic skill sets required for the position.
- If needed, don’t forget to include any promised follow-up materials or to confirm details of any next step that was defined during your conversation. I can’t tell you how many times there was a specific action identified in a conversation I had with a job seeker or candidate that they never followed through with. If you demonstrate responsibility and accountability, you will make a fantastic impression.
- For an interviewer, reinforce your appreciation for the interview.
- For others, include an offer to reciprocate or return the favor and, once again, thank the person for their willingness to assist you.
The note doesn’t have to be overly long, but it should be personal and sincere. A thank you note allows you to put forth a positive impression without coming across as pushy.
Some final notes before you seal it up or hit “send”:
- Don’t forget to proofread your letter for misspellings and grammatical errors — especially the person’s name!
- Include your contact information so you can be reached easily.
- Follow up with the recipient within an appropriate time period after sending your letter, especially if a next step has been established.
- Document your correspondence in some sort of contact management system or spreadsheet. Using a system to track the conversations you’re having will help you better manage your job search process.
How has writing thank you notes affected your career? Share your experience with us in the comments!