A Thank You Note to Separate You From the Field
“Wow, that was a great letter! I just had to call you back.” That was the beginning of a phone conversation in 1994. The caller was a CEO I had recently met about a job. My thank you note had really made an impact! The CEO called to say that he wanted to move me forward in the process. I must say, the job opportunity was a long-shot for me as the job was in a segment where I had less experience, and on the wrong coast. My letter made an impact because of my enthusiasm for the opportunity; my recap of the CEO’s goals for the position; and that my key selling proposition dovetailed with his needs. I also personalized the letter in a way that strengthened our connection. The result was that I earned a second look and was invited to meet with the Headhunter working the search. I did not get the job, but I had expanded my network and learned a valuable lesson.
In my work I see a lot of thank you letters and coach a lot of people through the process. It is important to remember that thank you letters are not just good manners or proper business etiquette. Done well, they can make a difference in the hiring manager’s selection process. A thank you letter will not help the unqualified candidate, but it can tip the scales in a close situation. At the very least it will help you stand apart from the crowd. A good thank you letter presents your case for the job and demonstrates your communication skills. One page or less is ideal. It is another opportunity to sell yourself for the job in question. As a result, you must take this task seriously.
A proper thank you letter shows your appreciation to be considered for the job; recaps the key objectives for the position; and presents your unique selling proposition. The latter had better support the objectives for the position. The last point is to personalize the letter to include something you learned about the interviewer’s personal interests or background. This will help solidify a connection with the interviewer. By recapping the key objectives for the job you tell the interviewer that you understand exactly what is required of the position. By understanding the requirements of the job you ensure that you are on the same page with management which will make them more comfortable with your candidacy. Recapping your unique selling proposition as it supports the objectives of the job reinforces your potential for success in the job.
The role of correspondence between professionals seeking to do business together cannot be underestimated. Even as snail mail has given way to email, there is still a high value for well written correspondence that gets to the point. Your mastery of business letters, especially the thank you note, helps the hiring manager gauge your professional skills. Sending a timely thank you note demonstrates you appreciation for business protocol. Crafting an effective letter demonstrates your ability to communicate, an executive skill paramount to one’s success. So, make a serious effort to write a thank you note that positions you as a viable candidate. Let the interviewer know that you understand the job, that you can do the job, and that you want the job.
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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search