Saying Thank-You, email or hand-written?

The handwritten thank-you note is quickly becoming a relic of an earlier job search age. An increasing number of employers accept an email acknowledgement. However, some employers still place value on candidates who take the time to pen a note on real stationary, with real ink. The key is to do your research and say ‘thank-you’ consistent with the practice of the organization.

Job search is a competitive activity. You spend hours strategizing on how you will set yourself apart from others, with resume critiques, mock interviews and etiquette workshops. You arrive on time for your appointment, feel comfortable that you have made an impression, and on the way home, recall the key interactions of the day.

Who did you meet? What were their ‘hot button’ issues? How did you respond? Was there a question posed that you could not answer?

And you begin to envision a future as a part of this organization’s community.

Take time to acknowledge your appreciation for the opportunity to compete for the position, reiterate your approach to the ‘hot button’ issues and revisit the question that stumped you in the interview. With a bit of research and reflection you will be able to craft an answer and demonstrate your continued interest in the position.

What is the best way to follow-up on the interview? If you want to continue your candidacy, a thank-you is your next step. It gives you a forum to summarize your interest in the position, provide an answer to the question you missed and add any additional thoughts on how you might solve a problem facing the organization.

The key here is to be personal and timely. The thank-you note, like a cover letter should reflect the shared interview experience.

Even if it’s clear you are no longer in the running, send a note. It establishes your professionalism and might translate into another opportunity in the future.

Email or handwritten? Your research should give you a hint to the culture and what might be appropriate. Some view a snail mail thank-you as less competitive than one emailed. Try a combination. Send an electronic note and follow up with a written note within 24 hours.

Less than 20% of candidates thank interviewers for their time. A thank-you note could be your competitive advantage.

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