WRITTEN BY: JACQUELINE DUNN
One winter afternoon about 12 years ago, I was sitting in the living room of a large house in a nearby rural town surrounded by a litter of fluffy golden retriever puppies (a situation I’d honestly love to replicate weekly). After years of pestering and an expertly crafted poster board detailing the benefits of puppy ownership, my mom decided it was time that we find a new furry addition to our family. One day during my Christmas break, we drove out to visit a family with a new litter of puppies. We spent about an hour watching them play in an effort to choose the best fit for our family. For the most part, the puppies wandered around picking up toys and sniffing us. However, one puppy, the runt of the litter, spent her time napping in my lap. The right choice was obvious.
You may be wondering how my long-winded story about my dog relates to your job hunt, but my puppy-search has direct parallels to the interview process. There are many qualified candidates and only one open slot. Mostly though, this anecdote proves the importance of a good impression. When applying and interviewing, you’ll be trying to stand out to businesses who are likely sorting through a stack of impressive resumes and speaking to many eligible applicants. In a competitive job market, it’s important to put in a little extra effort in order to be memorable (much like how my dog decided to the road to adoption was paved with personal attention and cuddles). One of the easiest and often overlooked ways to go the extra mile is to send a thank-you note.
Thank-you notes show an appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration and are a courteous way to prove your interest in a position. We live in a world where we devote entire stores to thank-you cards (shout out to Hallmark!), so you may be thinking that all of your peers are already sending them, but they can actually be quite rare. Last spring, when my company was recruiting summer interns, we would intentionally note which candidates sent follow-up emails. In the end, only a small percentage actually reached back out to us after the interview and I can say from experience that the short emails definitely left a good impression.
There is etiquette in writing a worthwhile thank-you note. Short, generic notes will not actually boost your chances of landing a job. Here are a few tips and tricks:
- Personalize your note. Reference a topic that was specifically discussed in your interview.
- Along those lines, write your note right after your interview so that you can remember details from your conversation. Send the email within 24 hours.
- Highlight why you’re a good fit for the position and restate your interest.
- Proofread your email! Spelling and grammar mistakes are a red flag to interviewers.
- If multiple people interviewed you, make sure to write individual thank-you notes to all of them, not just to who you think has the highest title.
While handwritten letters show effort, snail mail is slow and hiring decisions can sometimes be made quickly. Emails are appropriate and you can send an additional written letter if you find it necessary (especially when applying to firms). Though a thank-you note will not always make or break your chances at landing your dream job, it’s important to find little ways to stand out and make the best impression. Don’t be the puppy who sniffs some shoes and plays with your stuffed monkey—be the puppy who puts in a little extra, personalized effort.