Mastering the Age Old Art of the Thank You Note

It’s 1942. You’ve just heard of a job opening at the bank down the street. You walk to the bank, ask about the job and are immediately taken into a room for an interview. After the interview, you go home and write a thank you note expressing your gratitude to the employer for taking the time to speak with you. You hand deliver the note the next day. You’re hired on the spot.

It’s 2014. You’re scrolling through your Twitter feed and you see that some company in Los Angeles is hiring an entry-level graphic designer. You click on the link, read through the description and decide this is something you’re interested in. You submit your online application. Two weeks later, you receive an email from the company stating they’d like to bring you in for an interview. You dress up nicely, polish up your portfolio and kill the interview. You go home thinking you nailed it, but never hear from the company again.

What’s the difference between these two situations? (Other than the extreme time change of course.)

In this day and age, people have simply forgotten the thank you card. They don’t know what it is, how it should be used, or even where to get one. So let me begin by simply defining the thank you note.

Thank You Note: a type of correspondence expressing one’s gratitude for a gift, service, or opportunity, customarily handwritten on cards.

Simple enough to understand, right? WRONG. Our generation has completely forgotten about the art of the thank you note. So I am going to let you in on a few of my secrets that I use when crafting personalized thank you cards.

Always handwrite a thank you note.
No one wants to read something that you typed up on your computer. For all they know, you could have had your secretary type it up for you. If this person really impacted your life in a positive way, I’m sure you have five minutes to spend writing a handwritten thank you to them.

I believe a thank you note should contain four key elements:

  1. The thank you: express to them in one sentence what you are thanking them for.
  2. Further detail of your gratitude: in this sentence, express a further detailed explanation of the opportunity and what it meant to you.
  3. Future connection: thank you notes are supposed to help in establishing and maintaining relationships, so don’t forget to add something about talking to the person on a later date.
  4. The signature: Now this all depends on how well you know the person. To be safe, I always stick with, “Thanks again” and sign my name.

So let me put all of these elements together for you into one example. Say you just interviewed for a Director of Communications position at Sprint.

Dear Mr. Black,

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to interview with Sprint for the Director of Communications position. It was great to learn more about your organization and the position, as it has always been a goal of mine to work for Sprint. I hope to hear from you soon regarding the position and hope this will be the beginning of a great relationship between your organization and I.

Thanks again,
Your Name

If you follow this pattern, crafting thank you notes should be as simple as 1-2-3-4. And I guarantee you, it will put you on the top of that employer’s stack of résumés. So happy writing!

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