Five Secrets for Writing a Great Thank-You

by | March 10, 2009

Do thank-you notes yield job offers? No, but they can help.

Chris Huss, who graduated last month from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., wrote dozens of thank-you notes throughout his senior-year job search. In all, he interviewed for 15 jobs and received seven offers, including a spot he accepted in the two-year operations-management leadership program at GE Healthcare, a Waukesha, Wis., unit of General Electric Co.

"The biggest challenge was trying to make them personal," he says. "I didn't want them to be vanilla."

Here are five tips to help you write your own personalized thank-you to impress recruiters and make you stand out from the competition.

1. Have a friend proofread your letters for misspellings and grammar gaffes.Don't assume a spell checker will eliminate mistakes on letters. "[It] doesn't know you meant to write 'would' instead of 'wood,' " notes Patricia Gillette, assistant vice president at health-care provider HC ManorCare in Toledo, Ohio. A big mistake could mean you'd be eliminated from consideration, she says.

Also be sure to check the spelling of the recruiter's name by visiting the company's Web site or contacting its human-resources department. Jennifer Randolph, vice president of organizational development at Courtroom Television LLC, says candidates who spell her name wrong make a poor impression. "It says you're not paying attention to what you're doing. It definitely impacts whether or not you'll get a second interview," she says.

2. Keep your letters short. Just a few sentences will do, says Ms. Gillette. "You don't have to rehash the entire interview experience. If it went well, I'm already aware of that," she says.

3. Thank everyone who interviewed you. If you met with more than one person at a company, send a letter to each and vary the content, says Tory Johnson, chief executive officer at Women for Hire LLC, a producer of career fairs based in New York.

Mr. Huss, 23, corresponded with everyone who interviewed him, which in some cases meant writing to several recruiters from the same company. Each letter the industrial-engineering major composed referred to specific parts of the particular interviews.

4. Reiterate your interest in and qualifications for the job. For instance, Ms. Johnson suggests, you might say, "Thank you for meeting with me this morning about the entry-level sales position. Our conversation reinforced my strong interest in joining your team."

Then cite one or two examples of what you learned during the interview that increased your interest in the opening, she says. If you learned that the job requires travel, she says, a good comment might be: "Knowing that the position requires travel excites me because I enjoy getting out of the office and connecting with people in the field."

5. Include the best way to reach you, even if you think the recruiter knows it, advises Ms. Johnson. Sign off by inquiring about the next step, or if you know what it is, by saying you look forward to it, she says.

Filed Under: Job Search


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