The Power of a Simple Thank You: How Showing Gratitude Can Help You in Your Job Search

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Apr. 4 2014, Published 11:32 a.m. ET

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One thing that can tip the scale in your favor when the stakes are high is something as simple as a “thank you” note.

This is one tradition that has gotten stronger as the world becomes more digital. Writing a thank-you note after a job interview, or after a meeting with a high-level professional is always the right move.

I mean, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves- thanking your interviewer for their time and generosity won’t guarantee you the job.  It does have its perks though. For example, Alison Green, creator of Ask a Manager, shares, “…when the decision is close between you and another candidate, a thoughtful thank-you note can tilt the scales in your direction — especially if the note isn’t just a perfunctory ‘thank you for your time’ but contains substance that builds on the conversation you had during the interview.” Therefore, an applicant who writes a strong thank-you note will stand out from the crowd; it makes you memorable. Green goes on to say:

A thank-you note contributes to the overall picture of a candidate. It’s not generally make-or-break, but it’s a piece of the picture. It serves two functions:  (1) It signals that  you pay attention to the little things and care about presenting the best possible face to your candidacy. (2) It signals interest, by showing that you went home, digested everything you learned in the interview, and concluded that you’re still enthusiastic about the position. That can matter.

So now that you’re convinced on how important “thank-yous” are, what should you write in your thank-you note?

Here are some tips on what its content should include:

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  • After the interview, make a conscious effort to write the thank-you note as soon as possible. Having the conversation fresh in your memory will help you to remember key parts of the interview and make it easier to type up.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time and the fact that you were chosen as a candidate.  Also, in case there are several positions they are trying to fill, remind them what position you interviewed for.
  • Just like a cover letter or resume, a thank-you note is another great opportunity to show your potential employer why you’re the perfect candidate for the job. Remind them what unique skills you can contribute to the company. Be specific.
  • Do you ever walk away from a conversation, and THEN think up a really witty response? It happens to me all the time, and it drives me crazy! A thank you note is the perfect chance to say anything you forgot to share during the interview. Just remember to keep it short and simple.  
  • Write something new you learned or share what makes you excited about working for the company. It shows the interviewer that you were actively listening during the conversation.
  • I cannot emphasize the importance of grammar and spelling! Incorrect grammar and spelling distracts the reader and takes away from the significance of your message. Make sure to read through your email several times before sending it out.
  • It is best to send your thank-you note, either handwritten or typed, by mail. Don’t forget to include your contact information, such as your phone number and e-mail address. If you are concerned about the delivery time, e-mail is the second best option.

If you meet with more than one interviewer, send a thank-you note to each person. Each note should also be unique to the person you interviewed with. For example, in my most recent job interview, I interviewed with the hiring manager before interviewing with the founder of the company. If I had sent a thank-you note to the hiring manager, she would have been more likely to send a promising report to the founder, which would also increase my chance of getting the job. Simply because I sent out a thank-you note!

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Also, make sure to send out thank-you notes to anyone who assisted you in your job search, such as friends, family, or professional contacts. Thanking them for the referral will make them feel appreciated, and they will be more likely to reach out to you the next time they hear about another great opportunity. Let them know how the interview went and how the experience will help you in your future. Voicing gratitude makes relationships stronger!

Even if you don’t end up getting the job, practicing gratitude will help you to focus on the positives aspects of the opportunity and how it brought you growth.

Want a new, unique way to make and send out cards? Check out this awesome iPad app, called Felt. Design your own card on your iPad, write out your message, and they’ll ship it out in the mail for you! Here’s their demo video:

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Have you ever sent a thank-you note to an interviewer? Let us know whether it made a difference! If you haven’t ever written a thank you email, do it the next time you have an interview, and share your experience!

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