Here are some brief tips to help you write your thank-you notes.
1. Decide Whether E-mail or Snail Mail Makes More Sense
Consider the timing involved and the formality of the person and organization you're sending it to. If you need to get a letter out quickly because it has to arrive before an interview that's coming up soon, or if it's a thank-you note after an interview and you know the employer will be making a decision soon, then e-mail is your best bet. Use regular mail if there's no rush and if you sense that the other person would appreciate the formality of a business letter printed on nice paper and received in the mail.
Use good quality notepaper with matching envelopes. Most stationery stores have thank-you note cards and envelopes in a variety of styles. Select a note that is simple and professional—avoid cute graphics and sayings. A blank card or simple "Thank You" on the front will do. For a professional look, match your thank-you note paper to your resume. We suggest off-white and buff colors.
Traditionally, thank-you notes were handwritten, but most are typed (word-processed) these days. If your handwriting is good and your thank-you note is short, it is perfectly acceptable to write it. In fact, this can be a nice touch. But if your handwriting is hard to read, or if your letter includes more than a couple of brief paragraphs, you will create a better impression by using your word processor. Be sure to match the style and format to your cover letter and resume.
Don't use a first name unless you are already on a first-name basis with the person you are thanking. Use "Dear Ms. Smith" or "Ms. Smith" rather than the less formal "Dear Pam." Include the date.
Keep your note short and friendly. Remember, the note is a thank-you for what someone else did, not a hard-sell pitch for what you want. Make sure, though, that in a thank-you note after an interview you remind your audience of your skills or other qualifications that are relevant to the job. This lets the thank-you note serve as not only an expression of appreciation but also as a chance to get the last word on why you should be hired. The more savvy members of your competition will be doing this, so you had better do it, too.
Also, make sure your thank-you note does not sound like a form letter. Put some time and effort into it to tailor it to the recipient and the situation.
As appropriate, be specific about when you will next contact the person. If you plan to meet soon, still send a note saying you look forward to the meeting and say thank you for the appointment. And make sure that you include something to remind the employer of who you are and how to reach you, since your name alone may not be enough to be remembered.
7. Sign It
Sign your first and last name. Avoid initials and make your signature legible.
Write and send your note no later than 24 hours after you make your contact. Ideally, you should write it immediately after the contact, while the details are fresh in your mind.
Depending on the situation, a JIST Card is often the ideal enclosure to include with a thank-you note. It's small, it's soft sell, and it provides your contact information, should the employer wish to reach you. It is both a reminder of you, should any jobs open up, and a tool to pass along to someone else. Make sure your thank-you notes and envelopes are big enough to enclose an unfolded JIST Card.
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