Monday, October 22, 2012

Five Thank You Note Mistakes to Avoid

The thank you note is a mainstay in professional culture. Thanking the interviewer for her time shows graciousness and politeness, a reflection of the worker that you will be. However, there are mistakes to avoid when preparing thank you notes. Follow these tips to make sure what you send has impact:

1. Sending the note too early: this might seem counter-intuitive, but makes sense when you think about it. Thank you notes have become relegated to the "box interviewees check" category, to the point where the tone of the note can appear to be "I'm doing this because I have to." The timing of the note is a perfect example of this idea: sending a note minutes after your interview (or, worse, writing the note before the interview) puts you into this perfunctory category. Send a thank you note within 48 hours after your interview, but give it at lease two to three hours to show that you are not simply acting on an obligation and being disingenuous.

2. Failing to advocate for your candidacy: do not simply thank the interviewer for her time in your note: use it as an opportunity to readdress specific points brought up in the interview and how your knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal qualities can help the organization reach its goals. Perhaps you thought of a better example that more clearly demonstrates how you can help solve an organizational problem, or there was a skill that you want to emphasize. Addressing these points shows how the thank you note is not a mere professional obligation, but an extension of the interview and positions you as the strongest possible candidate.

3. Spelling & grammar errors: it goes without saying, but candidates can hurt their chances by not proofreading their work. Do yourself and your career a favor by double-checking for spelling and grammar errors.

4. Believing you have to send a physical note: there are arguments abound whether sending a physical note or an email makes you stand out as a candidate. In our current business environment, either one is acceptable. When you get down to it, it is the content of the note that will make you stand out. Focus on your content...not on the delivery method.

5. Not sending notes in other professional contexts: thank you notes do not have to be (and should not be) exclusively for interviews. Strong leaders see the contributions of their supervisors, colleagues, and supervisees, and send pointed and specific thank you notes to show them appreciation for their efforts. Incorporate this into your professional life and see the difference that it makes.

Do you have any thank you note tips that have been successful for you? If so, leave them in the comments.

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