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5 ways to make sure your Thank You letter is not a turkey

November 21, 2011

Don’t let your ‘thank you’ letter turn into a turkey

With thanksgiving around the corner, most of us are thinking about the spirit of giving ‘thanks’ and those of us with an appetite (like myself), about ‘turkeys’. While the word ‘thanks’ has positive connotations most of the times, the word ‘turkey’ can be good or bad. Just as Donald Bradman probably did not want to get out with a turkey in his last cricket match, we don’t want to get a turkey when interviewing either. Obviously, this is our tongue in cheek way of saying a turkey equates to a zero.

So you’ve just finished interviewing for a job that you really want to get and now it’s the waiting game to see if you will be offered the job or invited back for another interview. The best way to nudge the employer is to follow up with a ‘thank you’ letter. Over the years as a corporate recruiter, I have seen effective “thank you” letters and some real ‘turkeys’. Here are 5 ways to make sure your thank you letter is not a turkey:

1) Be brief

Let’s face it, most of us (yes, including you) are very busy with something or the other all the time, and so are the interviewers. While you may want to write about everything under the sun that glorious about you, don’t. An interviewer will spend no more than 10 seconds glancing at your thank you letter. If they see something of interest, they’ll read further but that is a big ‘if’. Your thank you letter should not be longer than five or six lines. Tell them who you are, talk to them about your candidacy, thank them, and you should be done.

2) Reinforce your candidacy

This is the tricky part because we just told you to be brief, so how are you going to reinforce your candidacy? A good way to do this is to think about a particular topic that the interviewer may have shown interest in. Reinforce your knowledge about that topic. Or show your interest on working in that industry, the company, the business. Make sure it counts and try to stay away from generic filler sentences such as: ‘I believe I am a great fit for this role because I am a hard worker and pride myself in always getting the job done’. The previous sentence does nothing to reenforce your candidacy. Be specific.

3) Finish with an Action

The finish is where ideas begin to wane as you want to go out and about with your day. Don’t skimp on the finish and hammer the last nail hard. One of the best tactic I’ve seen is when interviewees have sent me a letter indicating they will call me next week to followup. For some reason, this stays in my mind and I expect a call from the person the following week. You want people to remember you, so think of ways to do that. Another way is that if there is a conference or meetup coming up and you talked to the interviewer about it, mention that you are looking forward to meeting them there. This may cause them to look for you at that event. Finish strong and with a memorable topic.

4) Fit the culture 

This is a very simple tip but one that most interviewees get wrong. Here’s your chance to show that you fit with the company’s culture, without directly saying it. Don’t mail a hardcopy letter or card if you are interviewing at a software or web startup. Instead, send an email and also follow the company and interviewers on Twitter. On the flip side, if you are interviewing for a job with the railroad, then you may want to think about a hardcopy letter or card. Know the culture and show it in a cerebral way.

5) Don’t send a boilerplate to everyone

I always feel good when I get a thoughtful thank you note or letter. But it’s not a great feeling when a colleague forwards me an identical thank you letter sent to them by the same person. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it takes away from that special feel good experience. You want to connect with the interviewer and reenforce your interest so they remember you, that’s the whole point of the thank you letter. If you send a generic letter, it goes directly into the archive or trash bin. The interviewer may still remember you, but you will not stand out. Don’t be generic. Try to stand out.

Do you have any additional ideas or experiences, let us know in the comments. And remember to give (plug alert) myJoblinx a try if you are still looking for a job.

And just for this week, turkey it out and have a Happy Thanksgiving week!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. GetafixQ permalink
    November 23, 2011 11:23 pm

    Pretty sound tips but I would rather take time to put my thinking cap on and search for that one thing that the guy liked or loathed or whatsoever made an impression on me.
    Then to ever so casually to drag it in for the ‘coup d’ grace’
    A possible example,
    “A small Thank You note for taking the time to hear me out..
    It was a privilege to know that the company is investing heavily in research without too much importance to the bottom line. . Only really great companies do that and they have truly loyal workers.
    Thank you indeed”. .

    That if any thing should do the trick.

    Some fifty plus years back when I was searching for the secrets of success, I chanced upon stuff such as Personal Magnetism which always but always made the difference between success and failure. Indeed it is the b basis of what ever success has come my way despite my aloof arrogant imperious native nature.
    God willing I intend to post some of the secrets of that science by and by..

  2. November 25, 2011 10:33 am

    i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.


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