If cover letters are about first impressions, then Thank-you Letters can be described as last impressions. Writing to potential employers after an interview or any other kind of positive interaction can be a powerful way of leaving a memorable mark, which can help when time comes for final hiring decisions to be made.
WHAT are Thank-you Letters?
During the job search process, Thank–you Letters are a type of formal correspondence which aims to express gratitude to someone who assisted you. Letters are preferable to voice messages – employers are able to keep the letters for future reference, and share them with others, if they want.
WHY send Thank-you Letters?
Besides obvious good manners, it’s important to remember that employers generally expect to hear from you after an interview, and that they will be receiving such correspondence from other interviewees, as well.
More importantly, such letters are an excellent way to confirm your interest in the position and to remind employers about the reasons you are a strong match for the position.
WHEN to send Thank-you Letters?
The sooner you send your Thank-you Letters, the better — preferably within 24 hours. If, however, this is not possible, send it whenever you can, even if it is long after. Better late than never.
In those rare occasions when you leave an interview already knowing that you will not be hired, a good letter can still be very effective. A brief note, thanking the interviewer for their time, could be a reminder that you are still a strong candidate to be considered for future openings, or in case the person that they have hired does not work out.
To WHOM should Thank-you Letters be sent?
Most commonly, Thank-you Letters are sent by a job searcher to an employer, after an interview.There are, however, many other opportunities to send Thank-you Letters, including thanking a person for referral to a job, introduction to a network contact, an information interview, an internship, a reference or any other help offered, or time spent to help you promote your career.
If you were interviewed by more than one person, make sure to send the letter to each interviewer separately, and address it to them specifically.
HOW to best write and send Thank-you Letters?
To start, make sure you have the correct spelling, email and address of your interviewer; for this purpose, it’s a good idea to pick up business cards from your interviewer(s) upon completing the interview.
- Use the same font and format of your cover letter, which means the letter should be typed (in most cases, a hand written card is considered too casual).
- Write a simple, clear and short letter (3-4 paragraphs will do).
- You can include in the letter:
- An expression of gratitude for the opportunity to be interviewed
- A mention of something you enjoyed/learned in the interview (e.g. something you didn’t know about the company or position)
- A brief summary of the reasons you believe you are a strong candidate for this position
- A reminder of your enthusiasm for the job
- Letters can be dropped off or attached to an email; it’s preferable not to use traditional mail, as it will take too long to arrive on the employer’s desk. Faxes are not a good idea, as they appear untidy and are more likely to get lost. Also – if using email, make sure to attach a document, rather than writing in the body of the email, that way they are more likely to be printed and/or saved, rather than just deleted.
Use a tone which matches that of the employers. For example, a creative job would allow for a more relaxed tone, whereas a banking job might require a more serious and formal approach. Samples of letters can be found here.
To sum up, for Thank-you Letters to be effective, they should:
- Be written and sent at any opportunity, to anyone who offered time and resources to help your job search
- Be sent as soon as possible after the meeting or interview (same day, if possible)
- Written in a professional manner
- Be brief and error free
- Convey enthusiasm for, and interest in the position
- Be emailed or dropped off
After interviewing a number of candidates, an undecided employer who receives a Thank-you Letter soon after the interview — which is well written, enthusiastic and professional — might just have an easier time making that critical final decision about which candidate to hire.