When we were children, adults reminded us over and over again: "Don't forget to say thank you!" Yet somehow, as adults, we often forget this simple lesson.
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Do you always send thank-you notes after interviews? Chances are you don't – and that's hurting your shot at landing a great job. I have also noticed that fewer and fewer people are thanking employers for their time in the cover letters they send.
The crazy thing is, a thank-you note is essentially a free way to impress a potential employer. It doesn't require going back to school or paying for an expensive certification. It's a simple acknowledgement of someone's time and consideration.
Given that we all mean well, I have to think that this trend away from thank-you notes is not intentional. I believe it is connected to how busy we all are and the increasing confusion surrounding the rules of social interaction. Many of us focus on being the most qualified candidate rather than the easiest to get along with – but hiring managers are people, too. Their decisions are often based on little things.
Given how important thank-you messages are in the hiring process, I think it's a good idea to cover some basic guidelines here:
First, include a thank-you message in your cover letter. For example, near the end, you could write, "Thank you for taking the time to review my request." The hiring manager is very possibly reviewing hundreds of applications; yours will stand out if it includes a note of genuine thanks.
As you correspond with the hiring manager, the HR representative, or anyone else from the company, be sure to close all communication with a "thank you." Simple messages like "Thank you for your help" or even just "Thank you" at the end of an email work great.
When you come in for an in-person interview, thank the hiring manager for their time and for giving you the opportunity to chat with them.
After the interview, send short electronic thank-you notes by email to each person with whom you interviewed. It's a good idea to mention in each note something specific you discussed with the interviewer.
Then, follow up these electronic notes with handwritten notes to each person. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but it works – and it's cheap. Include a personal message for each person and attach your business card. It helps to remind them who you are.
Sending both an electronic and a handwritten note after an interview may sound redundant, but think of it this way: The handwritten note is the most powerful one, but it may get lost or take a while to reach the interviewer. The email note ensures the hiring manager hears from you before they make a decision.
With so few people sending thank-you notes these days, this simple gesture will help you stand out from the rest of the pack!
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.