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Build Your Career Get the Job

Get the Job: Avoid These 3 Thank-You Note Mistakes

image for fizkes / Getty Images
fizkes / Getty Images
  • First impressions are essential when applying for a job as they determine whether you get the job or not.
  • Thank-you notes are essential in fostering relationships between individuals and business entities.
  • Individuals who show gratitude are known to be great team players in an organization as they make other team members feel appreciated and valued.

Gratitude can leave long-lasting impressions on the people you interact with, especially when you're trying to get a new job. Sending a thank-you note to a potential employer after your interview can only improve your chances of getting hired.

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 "Sending [thank-you] notes may seem outdated, but everyone appreciates hearing that the time they spent was considered valuable."

Though you may have nothing but good intentions in mind when writing your thank-you, there's always room for mistakes. Here are three important things to keep in mind when crafting your note. [See Related Story: After the Interview: Sample Thank You Letters]

Most employers are comfortable with emailed thank-you notes. This is faster and easier to deliver to the right recipient as opposed to a written thank-you note. You can however follow up with a handwritten thank-you note. It is important to send the thank-you note or email within 24 hours. Where the interview was done on a Friday, ensure you send it on the same day to ensure that you are not among the last individuals to send a thank you note. This time is essential as this is when the interviewer will be making a quick decision.

Besides reminding your prospective employer about your skills, take time to showcase some of your skills on the thank-you email. Include links to your linked in profile or your online portfolio. If you were interviewed by several people, send a different email to each one them. Ensure the email is individualized to avoid the interviewers discussing your thank you note as a chain email.

Here are few issues you can cover in your thank-you email:

  • Express why you want the job. Be sure to reinforce the fact that you want the job and that you have the qualifications for the role. Indicate the specific contributions you intend to make to the organization.
  • Bring up additional things you wish you had said. It is possible to forget to mention some things during an interview. Include these things in your thank-you email.
  • Revisit any issues raised during the interview. Where various concerns were raised during an interview, make clarifications that could shed more light on those issues.

When composing your note, you should keep in mind why you're writing it, to express gratitude. It's important to keep in mind you don't ask for something else, said Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, founder of Syntax Training.

"Asking [for something] detracts from your thank-you and suggests that gratitude is not the real reason for your message," she said.

Additionally, a thank-you note should never include a sales pitch disguised as part of the note.

"It is not OK to include, 'By the way, I will be in your neighborhood next week,' 'If you know anyone who can use my services ... ' or any of those tactics," said Sherry Ransom, owner and president of Sherry Ransom Productions. "Including a sales pitch dilutes the authenticity of 'thank you' and voids the feeling of reciprocity that would normally take place."

If you messed up during the interview, it's best not to call these things to attention when trying to land the job.

"Do not apologize or mention any negative aspects of what happened in the interview or meeting that you are sending thanks for," Anne St. Hilaire, content marketing manager at iDevices, said. "If you couldn't answer a question or called someone by the wrong name, don't recall it in your thank-you message."

Lavie Margolin, consultant and career coach, LCJS Consulting reinforces this idea, noting to "never apologize for something that you feel is lacking within your skill set or experience."

"People often do this by writing, 'Although I do not yet have,'" Margolin said.  "The interviewer had the chance to meet you and make the determination if you are lacking something."

Speaking of mistakes, be sure to double-check your note before you send it out to make sure it's error-free.

"Never have typos ... in your thank-you note," said Noelle Williams, director of recruiting at Kavaliro. "It makes you seem like you were scatterbrained when composing the note."

You've already gotten through one of the hardest parts of getting the job, now is the time to confidently be thankful and wait for the next steps. Desperation isn't a good look for anyone.

"[Steer clear of] any hint of desperation. Hiring managers and HR know that it's a tough job market, but you won't close the deal by presenting yourself as a charity case," said Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart:HR.

"Make the moment all about the praise. You should aim for a sincere, professional message with no ambiguity," added Cord Himelstein, the vice president of marketing and communications at Michael C. Fina, an employee recognition company.

Need more advice for writing your thank-you note? Check out our tips here.

  • Do not use your smartphone to send the thank-you email. Smartphones are known to autocorrect messages. You may only notice this way after the email has reached its recipient. This may work against you if the message has completely been distorted.
  • Do not use your work email to send the thank-you note. Your current employer may have access to your emails and know of your intentions to leave. The interviewer may interpret this to imply that you are an irresponsible person who will use company resources to have your way.
  • Use formal language to communicate. Use a formal style and tone when writing a thank-you note. This should be observed even if you have established a personal connection with the interviewer. A proper thank-you demonstrates to the prospective employer that you are respectful of the individual and their time spent interviewing you. Furthermore, a proper thank-you reflects on you and is indicative of how professional (or not) you act in formal business situations. 
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.