Question: I met a few prospective employers at a recent reception and don't know the best way to follow up. Should I send some kind of "thank you for your time" letter? What format should such a letter follow?
-- Ta-Tanisha, Detroit
Ta-Tanisha: Great idea! Although meeting prospective employers at a reception doesn't require the type of formal thank-you letter that you should send after an interview, a simple note of acknowledgment is a perfect vehicle for recognizing each contact as a potential employer.
Based on the conventions of the industry and your own style, use e-mail, a slightly formal business letter or a casual thank-you note to express appreciation. The message could be anywhere from three or four sentences to several paragraphs in length.
Include three components in the follow-up correspondence. Start with an introductory statement of thanks, referring specifically to time spent at the reception. Next mention your conversation, reinforcing your initial positive impression of the company and highlighting anything about your background that is particularly relevant. Include any new or supplementary information in this middle section ("Based on our conversation, a web site you might find useful is..."). Close by restating mutual interest, a smart "keep the door open" gesture that sets a positive tone and paves the way for future correspondence.