Want to Stand Out? Send A Thank You Note

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Sometimes, a good thank you note can mean the difference between being invited back for a second interview and winding up in the "Thanks, but no thanks" pile.

"The most sincere ones are hand-written on a card and mailed," says David Clarkson, vice president of human resources at Vitale, Caturano & Company, a Boston CPA firm. "There's nothing wrong with an e-mail, but a written thank-you note comes across as more sincere."

Is your handwriting illegible? It's okay to send a note written in a legible, cursive typeset, says Mike Beckmann, director of talent acquisition at Freddie Mac in McLean, Va. "A well though-out thank-you note should be properly addressed, include a specific greeting and narrative reflection relating to the dialogue between the candidate and the interviewer."

Have Something to Say

Customize each thank-you note for the person receiving it, suggests Roberta Chinsky Matuson, principal of Human Resource Solutions in Northampton, Mass. "For example, the note you send to the company recruiter may focus on how you will fit into the organization, while the note sent to the (hiring) manager should include reminders about your accomplishments at your current or previous accounting jobs," she says.

Small talk can also generate thank-you note topics, Clarkson observes. If the interviewer mentioned liking Thai food, for instance, the note can mention that a new Thai restaurant opened near his office.

Put a Stamp on It

All three experts recommend mailing thank-you notes the old fashioned way. "Don't send thank-you note through e-mail. There are too many opportunities for this important note to get lost in cyberspace," says Matuson.

If your parents raised you well, you know that thank-you notes need to be mailed promptly. Beckmann thinks the note must go out within 24 hours of your interview, though Matuson says two days after the interview is the final deadline.

Do It Right

No matter what your age, a poorly written thank-you note can have a severe impact on your ability to land the job. "Pay particular attention to punctuation and spelling. Have a friend proofread the note before you send it," Matuson suggests.

Just how much will sending a thank-you note set you apart? The answer may depend upon your age. Clarkson estimates that about 85 percent of experienced hires follow-up with a thank-you note, but only 50 percent of recent college graduates do. So, for a student, sending a thank-you note can signal sincere interest in working for a company.

Of all the things one does during the job-hunting process, there's perhaps no task that can be done as quickly and easily as writing the thank-you note. When done right, the two minutes it takes to write a sincere thank you today can pay off with an offer of a lasting job tomorrow.

Ever sent a thank-you note for a job interview? How come? Did it help? Post your comments below.

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