According to a recent survey, 24% of professional applicants sent thank you notes to human resources managers after an interview. While that low percentage may be surprising to many people, it does not surprise me. I have been a part of hundreds of interviews over my career and learned firsthand that thank you notes are not commonly sent. I believe most applicants miss a huge opportunity with the Accountemps survey when they do not follow up with a thank you note, and those who do send a thank you note often struggle with writing effective ones.
While we often think of thank you notes as mainly for post job interviews, they actually provide a greater opportunity for our professional goals. Well written and timely thank you notes foster relationships and build networks. It is often thought that we shape our own successes, but realistically, it takes a network that is built over time.
A post interview thank you note must be written with impact.
Perfecting the post interview thank you takes three steps. Let’s review one at a time:
Personalize It - A three line template thank you note does not hit the mark. It is very apparent when a thank you note has a personalized and genuine touch. How much the meeting was appreciated (the “thank you” aspect) and expressing the excitement for the opportunity are the attention grabbing opening lines. I believe that when applicants interview, they should take away two to three key aspects that they can later apply to their strengths in a thank you note. These topics could range from the culture, company growth initiatives, or what you uniquely bring to the position. High school clients can follow up an admissions interview by explaining what special talents they will add to the student body and ways they will contribute to the campus community.
Revise It -From my experiences in retained executive recruiting, I have personally witnessed senior level candidates lose opportunities due to poorly written thank you notes. Emailing a thank note from the parking lot after leaving an interview is not usually effective - and yet it is a common misstep! I recommend applicants begin to compose a thank you note one to two hours after an interview. A thank you note is a form of writing that becomes more impactful with a few revisions. The first draft is not likely perfect, nor should it be the final version.
Make It a Habit - Many people feel if an interview does not go well for them, a thank you note is unnecessary. Many industries are very small sectors and this approach could jeopardize future opportunities. There is great mobility in today’s workforce with hiring managers and human resource leadership. I find professionals who make it a habit to always send personalized thank you notes for interviews are more likely to write thank you notes for other purposes during the year. We all have successes and achievements throughout the year that deserve the recognition of others. Thank you notes can be a strong foundation of a thriving professional community.
Whether you send a thank you note by email or traditional mail, it provides you the opportunity to stand out above the rest. Campus to Career Crossroads aids its clients in writing meticulously crafted thank you notes. Whether it be a high school client on an Ivy League admissions interview, or a senior level professional, these notes afford them a significant competitive advantage.