How To Write a Thank You Letter for a Prospective Employer
There’s a simple way to make hiring managers take notice of you — even in a crowded job market. It takes less than 2 minutes to do. And it costs just 92 cents (as of this writing).
What is it?
Writing and mailing a thank-you letter to employers after every interview.
But … as with dieting (Eat right, exercise more) or drugs (Just say no), simple is not the same as easy. Sending thank-you notes must be difficult for most job seekers, because so few do.
So let’s break this whole thing down into a Q&A format, with answers from two recruiting professionals and my own client files. Our aim is simple: to make it easy for you to say, “Thank you” — and get more job offers.
- First of all, when should you send a thank-you letter to employers?
- “Mail your thank-you notes right when you get home from the interview. I prefer a handwritten thank-you to email because it can set your further apart from other candidates,” says Mario DeCarolis, Executive Search Consultant for West Bay Group (www.westbaygroup.net).
- Whom should you address thank-you letters to?
- In my experience, you should get the name and title of everyone you meet, including the receptionist. Sending thank-you notes to several people at your target company can start a positive conversation among all of them about you, which can lead to a job offer.
- Should you mail or email thank-you notes?
- “Email makes it easy, but a personal, handwritten note is really nicer,” according to John A. Challenger, CEO of executive search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas (www.challengergray.com).
It’s especially important to mail a personal letter to each of the decision makers who can hire you — those people deserve more than an email.
- What should you write?
- “Be positive,” advises Challenger. “If you can note something in the interview that was particularly important, include it in your thank-you. You might ask about when you can meet again or what the next steps in the hiring process are.”
DeCarolis adds: “Think of your thank-you letter as a second chance at the interview. You can address any concerns employers may have had or re-emphasize parts of your background that you know were a direct hit.”
- What common mistakes should job seekers avoid in thank-you letters?
- Both Challenger and DeCarolis agree that failing to send a thank-you letter is the biggest mistake of all. And I concur.
But as bad as not sending a thank-you is sending one marred by mistakes in spelling or punctuation. Because, when you don’t write well, it implies that you don’t think well. So do what it takes to create a letter that’s 100% clear and error-free.
“When I first started reading the thank-you letters job seekers were sending, I found myself saying, ‘Oh, my God. You sound like you’re in sixth grade,’” says DeCarolis. “Now I try to proofread all the letters my candidates send to employers, as a matter of course.”
Challenger adds: “Avoid writing something long winded or that mentions negatives. The thank-you letter is no place to raise concerns about salary or the size of the office you want, for example. What you want is not important here.”
- What’s the bottom line on writing a thank-you note after every interview?
- “If you aren’t doing it, you’re really making a mistake,” says Challenger.
There, that was simple, wasn’t it?
And if you want to set yourself apart from about 75-90% of other job seekers (that’s the combined guesstimate of Challenger, DeCarolis and myself) the solution is simple: write and mail a thank-you note after every interview.
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