Writing personal thank-you notes remains an effective way to stand out in the workplace. Thank-you notes send several messages, all good. They demonstrate professionalism, appreciation, and good manners. After an interview, they reinforce your communication skills and interest. These notes strengthen relationships with potential employers, clients, and colleagues. Thank-you notes document gratitude.
Write Notes Regularly
When do we write thank-you notes? Often. At a minimum, write thank-you notes (1) after participating in interviews; (2) after receiving gifts; (3) to acknowledge favors (such as referrals); and (4) to thank colleagues for work well done. Thank-you notes acknowledge the value of what someone else did for you and the team.
We have warmer feelings towards – and are more predisposed to help again – those who thank us with personal notes. After participating in a forestry job fair, I received a thoughtful note from the president of the local Society of American Foresters student chapter. Would I be willing to support their efforts again? You bet.
Choose Your Paper
Use good judgment in choosing the ‘raw material’ for your notes. After a job interview, write thank-you notes on personal letterhead or simple note cards. To thank someone for a gift, an informational interview or support, the note can be written on company letterhead or on personal or plain notepaper.
However, if you interview for a job at ACME Wildlife Services while working for the Timber Journal, avoid writing thank-you notes on Timber Journal letterhead. On the other hand, if you interview an ACME Wildlife executive for an article you are writing for the Timber Journal, it’s entirely appropriate to use Timber Journal letterhead. [The point may seem obvious, but people make the mistake…]
Often, I travel with a few note cards, envelopes, and stamps to write thank-you notes from my hotel room or on an airplane. For friends or family, I have used hotel letterhead and, in a pinch, cut my own postcards from the individual sized cereal boxes available at some breakfast bars. [They work Gr-r-reat!]
Worthy thank-you notes are direct, timely, accurate, and signed. They explicitly say, “thank you” and specify the source of your gratitude. They are written promptly and spell accurately the name of the recipient. And they include your signature; an unsigned thank-you note is a glorified form letter.
In certain situations (and increasingly), thank-you emails suffice. This is true for longstanding relationships, when your note includes attachments or links discussed in the interview, when firms view email as a preferred form of communication or where your contacts with an individual all use email.
My parents taught me that people read and appreciate thank-you notes. Time and time again, my experiences have validated this lesson. Writing personal notes in a timely manner will distinguish you and reinforce business and personal relationships throughout your career.