The Not-So-Lost Art of the Thank-You Note

Whether after an interview or during a business deal, a thank-you note can always make the difference between a potential opportunity or a missed connection. Here are some tips for perfecting yours.

A little thank-you note goes a long way—or does it?

It depends on who you ask, of course. One 2017 study from Robert Half’s Accountemps firm found that while just under a quarter of job applicants (24 percent) sent a thank-you note, 80 percent of human resources managers found them helpful when deciding who to bring on board.

But there are always exceptions. One hiring manager cited in a recent CNBC piece suggested that a thank-you note could be seen as creepy in an era when people can click to apply to positions by the thousands.

But often, the confusion about the thank-you note comes about due to a lack of expectations set out after interviews, according to HR and management expert Barbara Mitchell, who explains in a blog post on ASAE’s Association CareerHQ that it never hurts to ask before you part ways.

“I hope that before you left the interviewer’s office you asked what the next steps will be and when a decision will be made,” she says. “This is a great opportunity for you to get valuable information, and most applicants neglect to ask.”

Of course, that’s only one aspect that goes into the calculus of handling a thank-you note. Some other considerations:

How soon is too soon? Trick question, it turns out. “Always get a business card from each person you meet with, and send a thank-you email to each one as soon as possible after you leave the office,” Mitchell says, adding that it’s good to reference things that are said during the interview—both to highlight you were listening and to help reinforce points about yourself that you hope the potential employer sees.

What method should you use? Don’t feel you have to get out the stationary—though it’s definitely a nice touch. The Accountemps survey makes the case that email is the preferred medium for thank-you notes, with 94 percent calling it an appropriate medium, while 86 percent said handwritten options are OK, and 56 percent approved phone calls. But, as the thank-you note is a fairly old-school approach, so too should be your response—less than 10 percent said they’d be OK with social media outreach (7 percent) or a text message (5 percent).

Do thank-you notes have a role outside of interviews? Certainly! A recent Reuters piece on the topic cites how an artist manager scored a lucrative joint deal with Ashley Rose, a songwriter for Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, in part because he chose to send a note. “When I asked Ashley why she felt comfortable having our startup be her first joint venture, she mentioned the thank-you cards we sent to each of her producers, writers, and staff,” the manager, Clayton Durant, told the outlet.

(Photoevent/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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