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Thank you Letters- An Attitude of Gratitude

By Heather Isaacs

Of all the written correspondence pieces of the job search, the thank-you letter is the least-used and perhaps least-understood tool. While a thank-you letter can't guarantee you'll get the job, it definitely puts you in the right direction. Only about one of every ten job seekers sends thank-you letters after interviews, with the other nine missing out on an important piece of business protocol. Simply put, the thank you letter shows an attitude of gratitude for the opportunity put in front of you.

I've sent thank you letters after every interview and guess what; I've been offered almost every job for which I've interviewed. On my first job out of graduate school, I learned that the students on the search committee pushed for me to be hired because I had sent individual letters noting something personal that each student had said. No one else had acknowledged their influence on the hiring decision. People keep thank you letters as I discovered when my previous supervisor left his position and gave my thank you note to him back for my personal use. So what makes this piece of paper so powerful?

Again, showing gratitude. Think about it, the manager and perhaps other employees, takes time out of his/her schedule to meet with you and other job seekers, talking about the job, giving tours, maybe taking you to lunch- all in the interest of finding the best employee. They work to create what they hope is a hospitable environment for candidates, putting aside their regular work for a time to share the goals and motivations of their organization. Like all people, they want to be appreciated for their efforts.

Here are some tips to make writing thank you letters easier and hopefully, a regular part of your job search routine.

Get all contact information

Typically people hand out business cards sometime during the interview so that candidates know how to reach them for questions. if you meet with more than one person in an interview, make sure to get everyone's card or if someone doesn't have one, a mailing address.

Of all the written correspondence pieces of the job search, the thank-you letter is the least-used and perhaps least-understood tool. While a thank-you letter can't guarantee you'll get the job, it definitely puts you in the right direction. Only about one of every ten job seekers sends thank-you letters after interviews, with the other nine missing out on an important piece of business protocol. Simply put, the thank you letter shows an attitude of gratitude for the opportunity put in front of you.

I've sent thank you letters after every interview and guess what; I've been offered almost every job for which I've interviewed. On my first job out of graduate school, I learned that the students on the search committee pushed for me to be hired because I had sent individual letters noting something personal that each student had said. No one else had acknowledged their influence on the hiring decision. People keep thank you letters as I discovered when my previous supervisor left his position and gave my thank you note to him back for my personal use. So what makes this piece of paper so powerful?

Again, showing gratitude. Think about it, the manager and perhaps other employees, takes time out of his/her schedule to meet with you and other job seekers, talking about the job, giving tours, maybe taking you to lunch- all in the interest of finding the best employee. They work to create what they hope is a hospitable environment for candidates, putting aside their regular work for a time to share the goals and motivations of their organization. Like all people, they want to be appreciated for their efforts.

Here are some tips to make writing thank you letters easier and hopefully, a regular part of your job search routine.

Get all contact information

Typically people hand out business cards sometime during the interview so that candidates know how to reach them for questions. if you meet with more than one person in an interview, make sure to get everyone's card or if someone doesn't have one, a mailing address.

Take Good Notes

Listen carefully to the interviewer/s and you'll find out not only about the job but some of their concerns. You may also find out about common interests through listening or through observation of office spaces if you get a tour. These visual and verbal cues give you something to write about as a connection to the employer.

Have Supplies ready before the Interview

As soon as you start looking for work, you should purchase the following items for thank you letters- Thank You notes, a good pen, stamps and personalized address labels. Yes, these notes are most meaningful when hand-written, although they can be word-processed if you feel your handwriting isn't readable. Think about the impact a hand-addressed envelope and note will make in this age of easy and often overwhelming electronic communication. An unusual size envelope holds the promise of something other than bills or work in an office setting.

Write Your Notes Right Away

Once you get home from an interview, sit down for about half an hour to write out your thank you letter. Use your interview notes to help with the process. Address the envelopes, put on your mailing labels and stamps and then get them out to a mailbox.

Show Gratitude for the Interview

Your first lines should be thanking the interviewer for his/her time on the day of the interview. Mention something you appreciated learning about the company or the position. For example, "Dear Ms. Smith, I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you about the sales position. Now that I understand more clearly the market you are trying to reach, I believe that I can make a positive contribution."

Continue Your Sales Pitch

A thank you letter can also briefly summarize again the reasons you would be a good fit for the organization. For example, you could list three key accomplishments or skills that make you stand out. If you forgot to mention something important in your interview, there's still time to make the pitch. Write something like "one thing I forgot to mention is that I …"

Show Gratitude Again

At the close of your letter, thank the interviewer again for meeting with you and express interest in the position. For example, "Once again, I truly enjoyed meeting with you and I hope that I will have the opportunity to design a marketing strategy for AMC Communications."

If You Don't Get the Job

As I wrote earlier, a thank you letter does not guarantee that you will get the job but it does show your gratitude for the opportunity. If you are turned down for a job, I recommend that you send another thank you letter- remember the attitude of gratitude. Thank the employer again for the opportunity to interview and say that you hope to be considered for other opportunities that may come along. We saw that most people don't even send initial thank you letters so it's very unlikely that people send them after rejections, but the person who does shows that s/he is very gracious in handling rejection. That could impress the interviewer enough that your resume could be forwarded for other positions in the company or perhaps even outside of the company within the interviewer's network. A job seeker who shows gratitude throughout the search will ultimately find a position because people will want to connect that person to resources and contacts.