The Art of the Thank You Note
When was the last time you wrote—not emailed, not texted—someone to express your gratitude? If you’ve recently had a job interview, you should be writing a thank-you note right now!
We all know by now that the thank-you note is the hallmark of class and sophistication. In an increasingly impersonal world, a handwritten note of thanks feels like an artifact of a more elegant bygone age. (According to Dempsey & Carroll, purveyors of fine stationery, Princess Diana used to sit down every night before bed to write her thank-you notes.) Despite this, too many job applicants still neglect this essential follow-up step.
“It is scary how few people take the time to say ‘thank you.’ The notes I do receive often have typos and grammatical mistakes,” writes Rene Shimada Siegel for Inc. Magazine. “This doesn’t build my confidence in them, and it doesn’t do much to help build the type of relationship they intended.”
- Sooner Is Better. This is true for all thank-you notes, but doubly so when dealing with a potential employer. It’s a good idea to write the note as soon as you get home so that the details of the meeting—including the names of everyone you spoke to—are fresh in your mind.
- Share the Gratitude. Write separate notes to everyone you interviewed with. If you braved a panel interview, try to collect business cards from everyone present. Otherwise, just make notes as you’re introduced (and double-check the spelling on the company’s website or in previous emails, if possible).
- Handwritten and Heartfelt. John Kralik, who spent a year writing a thank-you note to a different person every day, says that with “a handwritten note, a piece of you will be in the same room with the person to whom you write.”
- Use a Legible Signature. Make sure you sign your note with your full name; an enthusiastic squiggle of a signature or just your first name won’t help the hiring manager connect you with the note. “It’s safest to assume your recipient may have several business associates with the same first name; signing your first and last name on the card is the best option,” advises Diane Gottsman for Huffington Post.
- Avoid Clichés. Stock phrases like “I sincerely enjoyed meeting you” are so vague that they might as well be meaningless. Instead, reference something specific about the interviewer or your conversation. Don’t be afraid to take notes during the interview to help you remember the details.
- Set the Tone with the Sign-Off. The closing of your note is called the valediction, and it’s important to choose the correct one. We’ve explored this topic before, but the short version is that you should choose something professional but not too stuffy. Sincerely is a bit old-fashioned, love is way too familiar, and cheers is a little cheeky. Your best bet is best regards or simply thank you.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread. Along with your cover letter and resume, the thank-you note is a document that will come under scrutiny not only for its content but also its presentation. Write a first draft on your computer. That way you won’t waste expensive stationery and you can use an automated proofreading program like Grammarly to check for errors before you commit your gratitude to paper. Also, remember that penmanship counts, so take your time to write carefully and neatly.
Need more appreciation inspiration? Check out these amazing thank-you notes from famous people.
Oh, and thank you for reading.