Job interviews are like marketing campaigns; research shows the consumer (in this case the company) does not make a buying (hiring) decision until she has been exposed to the product (you) multiple times.
By increasing the number of times the company decision makers interact with you, the more likely they will decide to pick you from the shelf.
Your cover letter, resume, and interview give you three chances to be seen by the company. A follow-up note or email message thanking the interviewer for meeting with you may be your final chance to make an impression. It is estimated that only 20% of job seekers bother to send thank you notes. The other 80 % are missing a great opportunity to sell themselves one final time before the decision is made. A well-written note can reinforce your strongest assets, serve as a “do over” on a clumsily handled interview question, and show you are excited at the prospect of working at the company, in addition to making your parents proud of your politeness.
Here’s how to use thank you notes to elevate yourself above the other applicants:
Remind the interviewer of a particularly insightful point you made. Many recruiters tell clients to write thank you notes in advance. Some even advise dropping them in the mailbox on your way home, or even leaving them with the receptionist on the way out the door. This is a mistake. Not only does this prevent you from addressing anything negative that you would like to rectify in your follow-up, it also prohibits you from referencing anything specific about your meeting. It also precludes you from mentioning topics that your interviewer stressed as particularly important, and at worse, it paints you as someone that is tone deaf to your potential boss’s comments during your meeting.
Far better to use thank you notes to reinforce a point that seemed to resonate with the interviewer; something like: “You mentioned a desire to re-vamp your sales training. I am excited about the possibility of using the team-building course I created for a Fortune 500 Company to help ABC Corp. redesign its sales force training.” Show him that you are capable of actively listening to his concerns and specifically address them in your follow up.
Point the hiring manager to additional credentials. If you have an online portfolio, mention it in your thank you note. Highlight projects similar to those required by the new position. If you have received media accolades or company or industry awards, direct the decision makers to the story. This is much easier if you send the thank you via email, and can include a link.
When all other things are equal, the person with the most enthusiasm for the job will be offered the role. Show your enthusiasm by taking the time to write a thank you note, expressing how excited you are for the opportunity and reinforce your belief that this would be an ideal role for you, and likewise, that you are the ideal candidate for the position.
Tailor the message and the medium to the company culture. Keep in mind the length of time that snail mail often times takes to reach its recipient. It is always best to follow-up via email for many reasons. You can easily respond to any comments that your interviewer may have, schedule follow up meetings, etc. With that said, a more formal letter can always be sent in addition to an email to emphasize your interest. Send an email letting them know that you sent them a formal thank you via standard mail, but did not want to wait to express your enthusiasm for the role so wanted to follow up via email as well. This allows for two opportunities to follow-up.
Consider the culture when crafting the message, as well. The more formal the company, the more formal the follow- up correspondence should be.
Make no mistake about it, thank you notes are not passé. They are both a way to extend and enlarge contact with the hiring organization and a way to demonstrate professionalism. By taking the time to thank the interviewer, you position yourself as someone who sincerely is interested in the position and is willing to invest resources to show yourself in the best possible light.
Remember also that when interviewing for certain roles, the hiring manager is evaluating how you would be presenting yourself and therefore the company to potential clients.
If you fail to follow up with the hiring manager, it is easy to assume that after being granted time with a prospective client, you would fall short in following up as well.
We often times hear concerns from candidates reluctant to send a thank you note fearing that it will make them look “desperate.” The key to appearing interested and enthusiastic in an opportunity as opposed to pleading for a job is in the context as well as the number of times you follow up. We coach our candidates to immediately follow up within 24 hours via email, and then one additional time if you do not get a response within 48 hours.
Sending that second follow up via hard copy mail is also an excellent way to cover all your bases, since emails do occasionally get lost. Keeping your note brief and to the point, inviting your interviewer to reach out to you for any additional questions or ideally to schedule the next meeting, is always a positive.
Incredibly, 8 out of 10 candidates do not follow up with thank you notes. It is ideal when you are the only one that does, and you certainly do not want to be the only one who does not. Consider writing a thank you follow up as a mandatory part of the interview process, and you will position yourself by that act alone as being in the top 20% of applicants.
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