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Thank You Notes: Sending The Right Message

finding a job, interview tips, thank you notesI have to make an admission here.  While in the process of finding a job back in 2007, I didn’t always send thank you notes.  It was counter to most of the advice out there.  I know.  Still is.

But sometimes I just didn’t feel like it.  Either because I figured out during the day that I wasn’t a good fit for the job.  Or I really didn’t feel a connection was made with the hiring company.

And often I felt used and abused at the end of the day. Not lifted up and propelled forward.  Not overwhelmed with my potential new and trusted co-workers, bosses and direct reports.

I am also influenced by my experiences as a hiring manager.

Having received a lot of thank you notes over the years.  And the truth was that a thank you note was not something I needed from the top candidate after round 1.  If you are right for the job, you are someone that I will schedule for round 2.

And while I read them all, rarely did I read something in them that compelled me to change my view of that person.  In fact, many of them contained “throw-away” statements.  Not at all related to the conversation we had during the interview.

You may remember a post I write a while back.  In Politeness In Job Search – When To Say Thank You I shared my thoughts about when a “thank you” is valid and when it’s not.  Because you can undercut yourself with a thank you.  See below.

A few more thoughts on thank you notes:

1.  Don’t try to do too much. Don’t write a short story.  Don’t feel a need to summarize the interview.  Don’t over-praise their organization (sounds like you are trying too hard).  And until you know there is some interest, I don’t recommend you spend a full day writing a business plan to include in the envelope.  Unless this is a perfect match, is a top ten target company or the hiring manager specifically asked for it.  Your effort can be a waste of your time.

2.  Less “thank you” and more a reinforcement of your value. A reminder about the important points you made and how, specifically, you fit the job description and fit the culture and stage the company is in (new, fast growth vs. re-building).  You undercut yourself by thanking the interview team so much that they start to wonder.  After all, both parties gave up their time to do the interview.  And both parties need something.  You need a job and they need someone like you to do something important at their company.

3.  Pick the right vehicle. Based on your experience at the company and those that you met while there, it may be obvious how to communicate.  I personally like an e-mail.  It is immediate, easy for most to process and, importantly, allows a quick and easy response.  But there are those who are more comfortable with a handwritten note.  More personal.  And a bigger commitment on your part.  But be careful on a few aspects.  First make sure you have good handwriting.  If not, it will frustrate the reader.  And make sure you purchase professional stationery vs. whatever you can find around the house (generic “thank you” cards).  Remember you are reinforcing your personal brand.  Finally, how important is social media to the role and the hiring company?  Could you send a follow-up or thank you via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook?

So I’m not saying, “don’t send one”.  I’m saying, if you decide to send one, make sure the right message is delivered.  One that strengthens your position and reinforces your value already expressed and demonstrated on interview day.

What’s your strategy?  Is it ever OK to neglect sending a thank you or follow-up note?  What has worked for you?

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Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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