Why Thank-You Notes Can Make—or Break—Your Job Prospects

thank-you notes

By Yvonne Milosevic

Okay, let’s clear this up right at the top because we know most some people dread writing thank-you notes. Yes, the writing of said thank-you notes is generally a tedious, pro forma chore.  But, when it comes to job interviews, if you neglect to send one after, you do so at your peril. Now, onto the whys and hows of a killer post-interview thank you.

Why write thank-you notes

According to a Career Builder survey, 57% of job candidates don’t send thank-you notes. Also, per Career Builder, most recruiters expect a thank-you note from candidates. So, if you’re up against an equally qualified applicant, sending a thank-you note might give you an edge over the competition—and a salary boost.

A study shared in Business News Daily revealed that 63% of recruiters would be more likely to hire a candidate who asked for more money and sent a thank-you note versus one who asked for less but did not send one. Besides standing out for your graciousness, a thank-you note can also act as a powerful tool to further your candidacy.

What to write in thank-you notes

You’ll find plenty of templates on the interwebs—like this one from the Yale career office—to provide you with a framework for writing a professional thank-you note. The critical factor to keep in mind is personalization. Remember, the message is more than an expression of gratitude. It’s also a chance to reiterate your qualifications and key points you made during the interview.

Show that you were fully engaged during the conversation by touching on some of the topics that came up.  And don’t miss this moment to show how psyched you would be to land the position at X company. Thank-you notes are a great place to sneak in something extra you wish you had mentioned during the interview.

Also, please don’t shy away from adding a touch of personality to the note to help you stand out in our automated world. Want to take your letter to the next level? Take a cue from Muse writer Alexandra Franzen on how to work your ideas into a creative follow-up.

When to send the thank-you note

Send the note the same day or within 24 hours of the interview. Some people believe the most crucial aspect of the thank-you note is how quickly you can send it. Think of the note as the finale of your interview experience.

Use your judgment when deciding between sending an email or handwritten note; both have their merits. Or have the best of both worlds. Send an email thank-you the day of the interview and follow up with a handwritten note snail-mailed the next day. We hope this goes without saying, but these notes should not be identical!

thank-you notes

Don’t forget to proofread!

If there’s one thing recruiters agree on, it’s that typos make you look bad, like, really bad. In fact, for some, it’s a dealbreaker. Forbes writes that 63% of hiring managers say they wouldn’t hire a candidate who made a typo during the interview process. Top-notch verbal and written communication skills are one of the most essential soft skills you can have. So triple-check the spelling of your interviewer’s name and read through the letter several times before sending it to ensure it has zero grammatical errors.

You may never know if thank-you letters are an absolute dealmaker, or breaker, at the company you are targeting.  But err on the side of caution. It shows you’re invested in the position and appreciative of their time. It also highlights your good manners—something all of us could show a little more of these days.