Thank You Notes Can Give You A Boost
This article was reprinted with permission from the author, Captain George Burk, USAF (Ret), Plane crash, burn survivor, motivational speaker, author, writer. Visit his website at www.georgeburk.com or contact Captain Burk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve heard it said many times that a person’s memory is a direct reflection of the type of life they have lived. If that’s true, and I believe it is, then I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life. Thank you to all here and those passed, who’ve given me many wonderful memories.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
Several human resources and etiquette professionals suggest that a handwritten note after an interview is more than a courtesy—the job could depend on it. I believe the same strategy is applicable when you send a handwritten “Thank you” to a conference organizer and host(s) and/or someone who invited you to their home for dinner; they’ve gone “above and beyond” to help or did you a favor, etc. The examples are almost endless.
“As a kid, I lived in a fantasy world. I used to believe that ants could talk. Not once did they say thank you.” Willard Wigan
The job interview you waited on for months is over and you think it went extremely well. But, before the position is offered to you, there’s one more important step you should complete—it’s one that I know is overlooked by the majority of people today: write and mail a handwritten thank you note to the interviewer and anyone else you met at the organization who played a role in your being interviewed.
That may sound obvious to some job applicants—especially younger job applicants—who’ve learned to believe and accept that a simple “Thanks” via a text or email is sufficient. No so, career experts suggest.
We’ve become captives of today’s rapid, convenient and quick–fix technology. Technology of the 21st Century has created the culture of texting and e-mailing the communications normal of today. Even for work, most people accept the notion that this is a valid way to express their gratitude after a job interview, says Colleen Rickenbacher, a Dallas-based etiquette expert. “Absolutely not,” says Rickenbacher, a certified protocol consultant and author of “The Big Book of People Skills Games.” “A nice, short handwritten thank you is appropriate and necessary,” she says.
“Feeling good about your life but not expressing a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ is like wrapping a gift for someone and never giving it to them.” Chip Conley
Before my presentations to the senior Midshipmen at the Capstone Character Excellence Program, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, I place my business cards on the tables in front of each Midshipman’s chair.
After my introduction, I mention my business cards and that I’ll tell them why I did it later. Towards the end of my presentation, I share my strategy: when they attend a seminar or conference, they should walk-in with a hand full of their business cards and leave with handful of business cards from people they meet. Make a note on the card when and where they met and follow-up later with a thank you note. I urge the Midshipmen to make this a part of their overall personal and professional strategy. I know from experience, the majority of people don’t do this today. I also suggest they write a “Thank you” when invited to someone’s home for dinner, when an author gives them a signed copy of his/her book, someone gives or sends them an unexpected a gift or writes them a professional recommendation. These are but a few examples. To me, it’s important to send some type of “Thank you” note be it hand-written, email or as a last resort, a text.
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say “Thank you.” In between, the leader is a servant.” Max de Pree
Life’s ‘funny’ as in serendipitous. You never know when you might meet the person(s) again. One day, they may your boss or sit on a promotion board…you may meet them again at the most unlikely location or time…leave them with a good impression of you. It can’t hurt, it will only help. It only takes a few minutes to write, stamp and mail a thank you note. Most of your cohorts and majority of others don’t do it. It’s a lost art.
Scottsdale, Arizona trainer Ed Scannell says, ”If a prospective employee cannot take the few minutes to handwrite a thank-you note on nice stationary, then he or she may not necessarily be the best candidate when it comes to common courtesy and good customer service.” He says that a handwritten note could be the deciding factor when several people seem equally qualified for the position.
Scannell remembers when he served as the executive vice president of a national professional association in the process of hiring a new meeting planner. Several candidates did well in the interviews. “When we did make our selection, I know for certain that one person who did send us a handwritten thank you note made an even better impression and did get the job,” he said.
“I can count on one hand the number of people who wrote me as thank you letter after having an interview, and I gave almost all of them a job.” Kate Reardon
Some managers, however, don’t automatically dismiss a candidate who sends a thank-you by e-mail. Laurel Strasshofer, human resources professional said, “Texting is too casual. But e-mail is acceptable and appropriate since we do so much work on our computers.” But, she accepts that thank you notes carry more weight because they indicate an employee likely will follow up on the details associated with their job. “A thank you note that’s mailed impresses me and shows they have interest in working here,” she says.
Even if a prospective employee sends a handwritten note and wasn’t hired or the right fit for the position, the extra effort could pay dividends later. “It adds a little something,” she says. “I would remember the candidate if another position came up that was a better fit.”
Several months ago, I read a short article in the “Arizona Republic Newspaper.” The article addressed our society’s growing psychological reliance on communications technology. Several psychologists stated they’re concerned that people are losing the ability to effectively communicate verbally and via the handwritten word because of their reliance on electronic communications. People will lose the ability to communicate face-to-face and how to write the syntax in a sentence that makes sense. The “LMOA” and other abbreviations used in texting are not acceptable! (For safety’s sake, please don’t use your cell phone or text while driving and while refueling your car. The life you save…may be mine!)
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one today to say ‘Thank you?’” William Arthur Ward
A few tips for thank you notes:
The “3-3-3” policy—Take three minutes to write a note, use three lines to thank the person for their time and send the note within three days.
The look—Notes should be professional looking, fold-over note/cards in a solid color with matching envelopes. Nothing loud or “cutesy.” I developed a blue grey card and blue fonts that match my business card in color. On the card, my name is across the top, the quote on my business card is under my name and at the bottom of the card are my toll free and cell phone numbers and my web site.
The writing—Write the note on the inside of the card. I use the front of the card and sometimes continue on the back. If you don’t have neat, legible cursive, it’s okay to print. This gets tricky for me. My cursive (my scrawl) often times requires interpretation and so does my print. My one functional hand doesn’t always respond well. But…I write my notes anyhow.
Example: “Thank you so much for inviting me to interview for your open account specialist position. I truly appreciate the time you took to talk with me about this opportunity and the company. I enjoyed learning more about your work group and how I might fit into the team. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any follow-up questions you might have. I hope to talk with you again soon.”
The envelope—Color contrast it with the note paper. Double and triple check all spelling, titles and the address. I have a pre-made stamp with my/our name, address and city, state and zip code.
“Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive me (us) if I (we) don’t do not love it enough.” Garrison Keillor
One final note: I over the past 45 years, I’ve tried to write a thank you note to the many who’ve helped me on my journey and to my hosts, those who’ve read my books, interviewed me, published my articles and others who’ve been gracious, kind and thoughtful. Thank you to my hosts who’ve invited me to speak at various venues. Thank you to those who’ve invited me into their lives, homes, and for their friendship. Each of you has helped me realize my purpose.