Do Thank You Notes Really Matter?

from Brazen Careerist by 


EVERYBODY sends a Thank You note after an interview… Right? Wrong!

Having been in the Employment Placement industry for 23 years, I've found that only around 10% to 20% of candidates actually send a Thank You note after an interview. And of those, fewer still send one after each interview at a company. Even though I coach all my candidates to send one after interviews I set up for them, only around half actually do it! Yet if you ask any of them if they think it's a good idea, they will almost always say it is!

But do they really make a difference as to who gets hired? It's the person that's the closest match to the job… isn't it?

No. It isn't.

Over the years, I have seen a number of times where it's not the most qualified, or closest match candidate that gets the offer, but rather the one that seems to want the job the most and expresses that enthusiasm professionally. That is often determined by the fact that one sent a Thank You note expressing their interest and the other did not. 

It shows that the person is thinking about the job, even after the interview is over. It shows that the person has follow through. It shows that the person is thoughtful, and is more likely to relate well to people at the company. Whether those things are actually true or not, it certainly creates that impression.

So here are some tips to do it successfully:

~ In today's job market, send a Thank You email the same day after your interview. Sending one by mail is nice, but speed is of the essence. You don't want them to make a decision on someone else before they see your note! Sending an email immediately, followed up by a 'snail mail' note is even better.

~ Keep it brief! If they open your note, and see a long letter, they're not likely to even read the first couple of lines. They are busy and don't have the time. If they see a couple of short paragraphs, they will likely read the whole thing.

~ Give one or two reasons you believe the position is a good match, based on their criteria discussed in the interview, and express your interest in pursuing the next steps. That's all that's necessary. Short and Sweet.

~ Be professional! No matter how well you got along with them in the interview, do not assume a personal or casual relationship in  your note. Getting hired for a job is a business transaction, treat it that way.

~ Be meticulous! Any points you may score by sending a note, will be diminished by poor grammar, mis-spelled words, or poor handwriting. Proofread it carefully several times, have someone else check it, and proofread it again before you send it.

A well written and timely Thank You note can make the difference between getting an offer and getting a "We chose someone else" letter. Send one every time. If you're not sure it's appropriate, send one anyway. I have never seen anyone get rejected because they sent too many Thank You's!


Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives and writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search.