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Should you still send a thank you letter? 

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Thank you letters. Should you send a thank you after your interview?

The purpose of the thank you letter was originally exactly that – – thank you. The unintended benefit was that you put yourself in front of the firm one more time, put yourself in front of the employer one more time. It was a reminder.

The history of thank you letters is that you mail them 100 years ago. You mail them 10 years ago. Because they got there a few days after the interview it was one last reminder for the firm that was hesitating. These days, it doesn't work to mail a thank you letter. It's really about an email and if and when you should send it.

1 of the advantages of a thank you letter is that it communicates interest. You're going to go an extra step and express that and have a selling opportunity. That's really the key. If we were going to do is send a thank you letter that says, "I just want to thank you for making time today. I believe I agree qualifications for the role. I look forward to hearing from you about next steps," that's not a useful letter because it really nothing to sell you as being the solution to a problem.

If you sell yourself in this way, "I want to thank you for making time tonight. I was thinking about our conversation and I wanted to drive home a few points with you." Then you start selling yourself in the context of your qualifications for the role. If you start promoting yourself and your capabilities to solve the problem, "My mind is really been racing since our conversation thinking about different ways I could contribute. I was wondering if we might be able to get together next week for another conversation (another interview) and I can discuss some of those thoughts I've had." That is a useful thank you letter.

That works for certain types of positions. However, if you are an administrative assistant, if you are in a role like customer service, stick with the "enthusiasm approach" and reinforce that you are qualified to do the job. For example, if you work at a call center, you might say, "Thanks for making time to speak with me today. I just want to let you know how interested I am and I want to drive home a few points with you." Then you might list some things that were in your resume... "I handle 15% more calls than the typical call center person without escalation." If you're an accountant, you might say, "I have yet to miss a deadline in my time with my firm. I hope the organization save X amount of money by doing such and such. I'm the kind of person who thinks after hours about ways to improve operations..." On and on and on. You start emphasizing additional qualities about yourself that may have surfaced in the interview, but may not have surfaced of the interview that really allow you to differentiate yourself from others.

"I have a lot of enthusiasm for this kind of work. Would be possible for us to continue the conversation next Tuesday?" That becomes a way that you are making a suggestion and if they don't respond in a timely way, there is a message to it. The message may be that they are not interested or they may not be ready to move forward. Remember, it is 1 of those 2. After all, if they are excited, they leap all over it.

Thank you letters can go a long way toward helping you IF YOU THINK OF THEM AS ANOTHER SALES DOCUMENT. If you think of them as an ordinary "thank you," then, they are really crap.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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