The Attitude of Gratitude
The Art and The Value of Writing a Professional Thank You Note
By Brian Sullivan
Some will argue that, in the hustle and bustle of the modern professional world, something as superfluous as a Thank You note is an outdated step in the job search process. However, in our experience at R&W Group, we find that not only is it appreciated, but a professional Thank You note is a novel enough gesture to help your candidacy stand out in a positive way.
Writing a Thank You note is simple, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to do. Candidates often say too much, crossing into rambling territory. A well-crafted Thank You note really only needs about 3-5 sentences, so a page-long volume is simply overkill. Other candidates make it too impersonal, addressing the recipient either too casually (e.g., “Hi Tom!”) or too clinically (e.g., “Dear Hiring Manager,”), or being tremendously vague about critical and unique details related to this specific interview (e.g., “I enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about the open position and your organization. The position and the organization sound interesting”). The last big mistake we often see is that the tone of a Thank You note over-expresses why this job would be good for the candidate, and undercuts a more important sentiment: what you as a candidate could uniquely bring to the job.
In this edition of the R&W Group Blog, we will cover the critical points to include in a Thank You note, how to strike the balance between respectful and personable, and how to share your value in an impactful way. We hope you enjoy; don’t worry – you can thank us later.
The Important Elements of a Professional Thank You Note
I always tell candidates that, when it comes to a professional Thank You note, less is more and more is sometimes too much. Below, I have included an example that we will reference throughout this post:
Dear Ms. Hernandez,
I wanted to thank you for taking some time to speak with me today. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Corporation Co and the Social Media Marketing Coordinator position you seek to fill. I believe that my collective education, talents, and experience in corporate marketing would make me a uniquely suited candidate for this role, and I remain interested in this opportunity.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions for me, or if there is anything else I can provide on my end. Thanks again for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Right away, we can see that this note is pretty concise – 5 sentences total. While short, each of these sentences accomplish a very specific task, which are as follows.
Expressing Gratitude for Meeting – the interviewer has taken time out of their very busy schedule to meet with us. The least we can do is thank them for doing that. In our example, we cut straight to the chase, thanking Ms. Hernandez for speaking with us.
Mention the Position and Employer by Name – A Thank You note should sincerely express appreciation, and it should convey that we are focused on the employer’s unique needs. The easiest way to screw that up is including something generic like “your company”, “this role”, or “the job”. In sentence #2 of the example, we say that we enjoyed meeting Ms. Hernandez, and hearing more about both Corporation Co and the Social Media Marketing Coordinator opening. Note: terms like "your company" and "this role" are fine to use in a Thank You note, as long as you mention the employer's name and the position's title somewhere in it. In the example, "this role" appears in sentence #3, but that's okay because we already established the role is Social Media Marketing Coordinator.
What You Bring to the Role – While an interviewer will probably be flattered to hear that the position is wonderful, life-changing, and all you could ever dream for, flattery will only go so far. Likely, they know the job and the company are great because they work there too! However, they want to hear what they will get by having you on the team. Sentence #3 reminds the interviewer about our education, talents, and relevant industry experience that will make us perfectly qualified for the position. As mentioned in the intro to this blogpost, it’s important we share the value we can bring to the position.
Expressing Interest – It would seem self-explanatory that, if you took the time to apply for the position, interview, and write a Thank You note that you’re likely interested in it, but that isn’t always something worth leaving up to chance. In fact, we have seen candidates who have had great interviews, written Thank You notes, but not been selected for the position because the interviewer was unsure if they were really interested. Throughout the first paragraph of the Thank You note, we’ve included phrases like “I remain interested in the opportunity” and words like “pleasure” and “enjoyed” to describe the discussion. Calling the opening or the interview an “opportunity” also shows how much you valued the experience, whereas calling it a “job” may show that it would be nothing more than a paycheck, and that’s not the look you should be aiming for.
Being Available for Follow-Up – Of the points we’ve made so far, this one is the most subjective and least obligatory. However, by including a sentence like # 4 (“Please let me know if you have any additional questions for me, or if there is anything else I can provide on my end”), it shows a willingness to cooperate with the process, and inviting the interviewer to view you as an open book. This helps reestablish interest, conveys your willingness to comply, and positions you as an honest, open person who is not concerned about hiding a troubled past or bad habit.
Expressing Gratitude of the Process – The final sentence accomplishes two tasks. First, it acknowledges our excitement about hearing back about the final decision. Second though, and more importantly, is that it thanks the interviewer for considering our candidacy in the first place. While it is the impression we make during the interview that usually determines how the employer moves forward, it is ultimately the hiring manager's discretion that makes that call.
Feel free to borrow any of the language you liked but, if you use these six guidelines to direct you, your Thank You note will definitely be good.
The Finesse of Finishing Touches
Anytime we write anything to anyone involved in the interview process, it’s always a good idea to have someone proofread it. Even something like a Thank You note could benefit from a second set of eyes, so a spouse, roommate, family member, friend, or even your recruiter can be a good person to give you some feedback. Note: Probably goes without saying (and is meant mostly as a joke… but just in case), if you’re interviewing with a recruiter, that same recruiter should not be the one proofreading your note.
Good grammar, spelling, and punctuation are a must. A conventional and legible font is also important. But the tone of the Thank You note is also significant. Calling your interviewer by title (i.e., Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) is recommended, unless they have told you to address them by a first name. And signing off with something like “Regards”, “Sincerely”, “Best”, or even “Thanks again” are all fine options; options like “Ciao,” “Ta-ta”, “Cheers”, or “Hugs and kisses” are all varying levels of inappropriate.
If something specific occurred in the interview that really sparked excitement for you, or really resonated with you, it’s not a bad idea to include it in your Thank You note, but we would urge you to do so with care. Shoehorning in something just because, or including something that might be more awkward than warm is not a risk worth taking. Having a sense of humor in your interview can be a nice touch, but it often doesn’t translate well into a Thank You note, so keeping things more strait-laced is almost always the right direction.
If you have any questions or could use help in your job search, please contact us at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!