The Top 5 Tips for saying more than just “thanks” in a note

Can you believe it? With Thanksgiving just a week away, the holiday season is officially upon us. Those of us here at New Tech have much to be thankful for. As has been the case from the very beginning, we’re thankful for you taking time out of your busy evenings to join our events, connect with your tech community, and build relationships that matter together.

In the spirit of giving thanks, I started to reflect on the importance of the simple thank you note following job interviews, as well as meetings with clients, bosses, coworkers, and new people you meet who share their time with you. The Association for Psychological Science has even noted how gratitude is undervalued.

While a thank you note won’t make or break a job seeker’s candidacy, or the possibilities of a new relationship, it’s that little detail that demonstrates thoughtfulness and attention to detail – not to mention proper etiquette.

So, with the season of giving thanks upon us, here are a few pointers for writing and sending memorable thank you notes:

  1. How to send it. While email is perfectly acceptable for a thank you note following a job interview or meeting, nothing shows sincere gratitude and appreciation like a handwritten note. You (hopefully) wouldn’t send Grandma Enid an email thanking her for that birthday present she sent, so – if time allows – consider doing the same following a job interview or meeting with an important person.
  2. What to say:
    • Thank you. This one may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people actually forget to do it: come right out and say thank you in your note. While it’s likely the first words in our card to Grandma, many professional “thank you” notes omit these two key words. Thank the person for taking time out of their busy day to meet you and for the opportunity to discuss the position or the information they shared with you.
    • What you learned. Convey your enthusiasm and interest for the company and role if you’re a job candidate. This is an opportunity for you to add some personalized detail about something noteworthy you learned about the company, a business challenge that you’re excited to tackle, or how you can help the company advance its goals and objectives based on past experiences. This is a good time to touch on just such an example that may have slipped your mind during the interview or meeting. 
    • Why you’re a valuable person in their world
      1. Why you’re right for the role if you’re job seeking. Use a sentence or two to recount your strengths and applicable experience for the position. You’ve already expressed your enthusiasm and interest, now make sure the employer is excited about you. If you read my earlier blog post on interviewing the interviewer, you likely left with some insight into what (or who) they’re looking for and why. This is your opportunity to remind them why you are the perfect person for the job.
      2. Why you can be an asset for them if it’s a response to meeting with a business colleague. Who do you know that you can connect them to that will them get what they want? What can you do for them that will matter for them? How can you make a difference for them? 
  3. How to say it. I’ve received thank you notes that are just one sentence in length. But I’ve also received thank you notes that are longer than some cover letters. There’s no right or wrong formula here, but based on the above anticipate one sentence to thank the person, a sentence or two about what you learned, a sentence or two about why they should hire you or stay in contact with you, and a sentence to close. Conveying nothing more than “thank you” in your note is like striving for a C in school.
  4. When to say it. Always, always, always send the thank you note within 24 hours of the interview or meeting. One way to make the thank you note timely is to write it before leaving (the building lobby or a nearby coffee shop perhaps?) and then take it back to the receptionist where you interviewed, or mail it to the person you just met with. Your thoughts will still be fresh, and it will ensure they receive it in a timely manner following the interview or meeting. No business card from the interviewer during your meeting? No problem! Google search the company address.
  5. Anything else?
    • Proofread: at least twice. Before you hit send on the thank you note, be sure to do a thorough spelling and grammar check (and don’t necessarily rely on Word to do it for you). The thank you note is one more chance to leave an impression with your prospective employer or new business contact. Mistakes and typos in a thank you note can be just as detrimental as having then in your resume or cover letter. Take a few extra minutes to review the note – one time through from beginning to end to focus on the word flow and sentence structure, then a second time from end to beginning to focus on the spelling of each individual word. (Our brains can overlook simple mistakes if reading quickly; did you notice the typo in the previous sentence?)
    • Avoid one to many. While thank you notes to multiple interviewers in one group email is becoming increasingly commonplace and acceptable, it’s still in your interest to take the extra time to write individual, distinct, personalized notes to each person. Not only is it more genuine for the interviewer, or business contact, to receive their own note, it also gives you an opportunity to address questions raised by specific interview participants, and reiterate any personal connection that came up in the meeting. A little extra effort can go a long way.

Keep these tips in mind for the next time you have an interview and you will be sure to leave a lasting impression! As a bonus for reading this article all the way through – read Giftology to discover simple yet meaningful ways to build great relationships and referrals in your life and work.

From all of us here at New Tech, thank you for bringing your “give first” attitude to our events and thank you for taking an active role participating in your community with us. As you spend next weekend giving thanks for the people and experiences that matter to you, please know that I’m giving thanks for you each and every day.

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