Writing an Effective Thank-You Note

The number one piece of career advice I have received is to write thoughtful thank-you notes, not only following job interviews and correspondence, but also for reasons such as thanking a person for his or her time.  These communications are collegial, allow time for reflection, and provide chances to mention additional subjects that were not covered in conversations.  They are also excellent networking tools and writing samples. 

Thank-you notes also serve important purposes when a person is not selected for a job they really want but may wish to receive future consideration at an organization or when someone has to decline a job offer but wishes to convey their appreciation for the time and energy the prospective employer extended during the interview process.  Thank-you notes also provide chances to include supplemental materials that may interest a prospective employer such as links to articles about topics discussed in interviews.

While thank-you notes are generally positive and well-regarded, it is important to follow certain protocols in order to make a good impression. 

First, always proofread the note before you send it, as there could be errors you did not spot while you wrote it; also, be sure to double-check names, phone numbers, postal addresses, and email addresses.

Second, make sure what you write is original and not a copy of someone else's sample note or a generic response that does not necessarily apply to the conversation you personally had.

Third, keep the message fairly short and upbeat.  Brevity is appreciated.

Fourth, use professional language as opposed to casual words and contractions; essentially, write in the way you would write a work email or compose talking points for presentations.  If possible, it also helps to have someone else read your draft, but when that is not possible, you might want to print it out before you send it.  Keeping a set of multipurpose cards, envelopes, and postage stamps is also a great strategy so you are ready to get to work on this task following an interview.

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