I get a lot of questions about thank you notes. With changes in the overall work culture, our entire job search took a new angle and so did this aspect of it. Just like wearing a suit to the interview, following up with a formal written thank you letter was expected in the old days. So what guidelines should we follow today?
I say treat it just as you would the selection of your interview attire – mirror the environment you are applying to work in. If you are interviewing at a conservative organization with an old school leadership team, then you probably still need to promptly thank them for their time. You want to match the tone of your note with the culture which you just observed. Sending a thank you note isn’t a required practice with start-ups or creative environments with a party culture. It may not hurt your chances to skip it altogether… but skipping it wouldn’t help your chances either!
Why Even Bother?
The entire objective of this cordial gesture is to take advantage of your last opportunity to close the deal. It’s a chance to address employer’s concerns and hit on a few things that were brought up in the interview as well as provide the decision maker with your awesome writing sample. Lastly, it’s a way to set yourself a part from other candidates and once again put your name in front of them. Realizing all that, it seems silly to let this opportunity pass you by.
Don’t put it off; timing is critical when it comes to a thank you note. Sending one after they had already decided on another candidate clearly defeats the purpose. However, there is another less obvious reason for sending it immediately after your meeting: it is to show your future boss your sense of urgency and implacable organization. This action speaks way louder than words about how you operate and presents you as a total go-getter.
The most common and efficient way to send your thank you note is through email. Prepare ahead by collecting everyone’s business cards at the interview. You can also ask your recruiter for their email addresses if that doesn’t work. Address everyone individually if possible – for the ultimate impact. If this organization had you meet with over four people at once you may send a group note to a few, but be careful to only group your recipients based on their ranks. Never send a combined email to the engineers and the CIO (it would expose your strategic incompetence). Even when sending a group thanks, be sure to recognize all of the recipients by names and mention their input from the interview.
The Heart-Stopping Content (and other tricks)
When addressing a decision maker, think through the entire content of your meeting. Did you forget to mention something of value? Did you leave them with an objection you didn’t find words to overcome? Did you discover a quick way to brush-up on the few skills that you are missing after the interview? Here is your chance to address all that in a short positive well-written note. Be selective with your content, identify your priorities and address everything in easy to read order. Keep it at no more than five sentences, facts only, no patting yourself on the back even on the most relevant topics.
For those competing for strategic, senior management roles, I suggest a little creativity. You can include a link to an article on the technology or methodology they inspired you to look into. Keep in mind that the interview process for higher level roles takes longer. Therefore, you can even send your potential boss a book on the topic that would be critical to your prospective role! In this case you should include a short hand-written note, with something like: “Thank you for a great meeting! I wanted to share a book I found to be a helpful resource when facing the same challenges in my current role.” This gesture will score you double points; it would display real initiative and thinking outside the box which is so valuable today.
We are always happy to help you with your thank you notes at MMD, share templates and ideas. We will make sure the decision makers love you! Please contact a recruiter of your choice, whether you work with us or not!