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Thank-You Notes Still Matter: 3 Tips for Writing a Great One

Thank-You Notes Still Matter: 3 Tips for Writing a Great One
Credit: topnatthapon/Shutterstock

How do you continue to stand out after a successful job interview has wrapped? Send a thank-you note. No matter the person, gratitude leaves a lasting impression.

"It is a common courtesy to thank busy people for taking the time to give you an opportunity to display your talents. In today’s job market, anything you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition is good," said Laura Kerekes, chief knowledge officer at ThinkHR. "Sending [thank-you] notes may seem outdated, but everyone appreciates hearing that the time they spent was considered valuable."

If you've got a job interview coming up, here are some tips to help you write an effective thank-you note. [See Related Story: Following Up After Your Job Interview the Right Way]

The exercise of the thank-you note is a great opportunity to remind the interviewers about how your skills tie to their hiring needs.

"There are [probably] multiple candidates interviewing for the position, and many of those candidates may have skills similar to yours," Kerekes said. "Taking the time to let them know of your interest after the meeting and telling them you're already thinking about what you could do to create value for their company could set you apart from the competition."

When writing your thank-you note, you don't want to come off as desperate, but you don't want to be too cavalier about your interview experience, either.

"By simply saying 'thank you,' the impression you make is that you're confident but not desperate, skilled but not selfish," said S. Chris Edmonds, author, and founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. "You're not demanding they hire you or demanding they let you know by Friday, at latest. You're being nice and emphasizing your talents."

Most experts recommend sending your thank-you note via email within a day of the interview to ensure timely delivery. However, you may also consider sending a handwritten note.

According to the Harvard Business Review, handwritten notes are unusual, but they can be effective when sent in conjunction with an emailed thank you. They take time to draft, each word carefully chosen with no "undo" or "autocorrect" to fall back on. A handwritten thank you involves selecting stationery, paying for stamps and visiting a mailbox. The notes indicate investment, and that very costliness indicates value, said article author John Coleman.

"While saying 'thank you' is important, the beauty of a well-crafted handwritten note is that it can show deeper investment and appreciation than a simple thank you can," Coleman wrote.

Timing is an important aspect of sending a thank-you note. Regardless of the actual schedule of the hiring process, the time between the interview and the note is important.

"Send a quick email [thank-you note] within 24 hours," Edmonds said. "Mail your handwritten thank you within 24 hours as well. That way, it'll arrive a day or two following your email note, adding gravitas to your thoughtfulness."

The timing of the hiring process itself should be discussed during the actual interview, and shouldn't be part of the actual thank-you note. Kerekes advised waiting until the agreed upon "hear back" date to follow up again. 

"Respect the process that the company has set. It looks desperate when applicants follow up even when they know the company is still working through the process," Kerekes said. "The only exception to this would be when you have another job offer and you need to get back to the other employer with a decision."

Need a sample thank-you note to follow? Check out our template here.

Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.