Trust me, I’ve been there: thank you note hell.
After every holiday/birthday/major life event my mother would nag me to send thank you notes to those who gave me gifts or did something nice for me. As a kid, I would roll my eyes and reply with some sort of backhanded comment. But now that I’m older and in the midst of my job hunt, I have begun to see the value of handwritten thank you notes.
Notice that I said handwritten. (Emails, texts, and tweets need not apply here.)
A few weeks ago I was discussing this very topic with a friend who had never heard of sending a handwritten thank you note after a job interview or networking event. He then said that it seemed like a waste of time. I was appalled! Could it be that sending handwritten notes has become a lost art?
If so, that is exactly why you should send them!
You see, in our world today, communicating with others is easy. In just seconds, we can tweet or post. It takes only a few minutes to whip up an email and instantly deliver it to the recipient’s inbox. Boom, they’ve got mail! And that is the problem… because they are easy to do, your thank you email, as beautifully crafted and heartfelt as it may be, now sits among hundreds of other emails. Meanwhile, the hiring manager wants nothing more than to delete all of these emails to get their inbox count back to zero.
The real mail, however – the kind with a stamp printed on actual paper – only comes once a day, and there usually isn’t much of it to sort through. So your handcrafted note goes front and center on the desk – and is immediately noticed by the recruiter!
Which would you rather receive: a quickly created email buried among dozens of others? Or a lovely handwritten gesture from someone who went the extra mile to take time out of their day to write a thoughtful, personalized note?
Being the one applicant, out of hundreds, who sent a handwritten note could make a big difference in whether or not you get hired for a position. I’ve even heard of employers holding onto the notes they receive, for years, as a reminder of those who have so impressed them.
Below are four tips to keep in mind when using handwritten thank you notes in your job hunt:
- Get personalized stationary. Yes, I know you are unemployed and feeling broke, but purchasing these are well worth the investment. “Personalized” doesn’t mean a “cute” pad of paper with a giant “L” for Lisa on the front. I’m talking about actual high-quality paper stock – from the stationary store or even FedExKinko’s by the piece for less than $1.00. Spring for the embossed kind if you really want to make an impression.
- Keep a few blank notes in your car. As soon as your meeting is over, write the note and walk back into the office and hand it to the receptionist/gatekeeper so the note can be delivered to your interviewer. If you established a relationship with the front desk person, write a short note to him or her, too! Get as many people in the office as possible talking about you.
- Don’t be generic. Just as you would for a thank you email, add something personal to your handwritten note. Recall a specific instance during your conversation that impressed you and mention it to show that you paid attention and truly digested the information… that you really “get it”!
- Follow up with an email and LinkedIn request. A few days after your meeting, send a follow up email and LinkedIn request so that the interviewer has several different means to contact you. Don’t follow up before 24 hours, however. You don’t want to seem desperate or needy!
Although handwritten thank you notes might seem an ancient tradition to some – a product of a pre-Internet age – you still should view them an essential element to your job search. Sending a thank you note, however, could mean the difference between getting a job or staying unemployed – a risk all job seekers should be eager to take!
Have handwritten thank you notes proven to be helpful in your job hunt? Comment here!