I've been witness to many debates over whether a thank you note is a requirement for people who've just interviewed for a job. My answer is an unequivocal YES! Why wouldn't you want to show off your skills by sending a simple note? Thank you notes in a business setting are the secret weapon for anyone to get ahead.
First of all, everyone loves to receive a handwritten note. It stands out among the thousands of pieces of information vying for our attention on a daily basis. Would you rather receive a handwritten note or an email? A note or a LinkedIn message? A note or a generic, mass-produced postcard? A note or a verbal "thanks again?"
By sending a simple note in the mail, you become instantly more memorable and relevant in the mind of the recipient. It shows many higher-level skills that set you apart, including:
- The ability to write well
- The ability to find an address without asking the person
- The ability to properly address someone by their title/salutation
- The ability to succinctly tell the person how they made your life better, or how you can make their life better
- The knowledge that all of us have a basic need to be recognized, praised, or thanked.
The written word is becoming more unique and treasured as time goes on. Electronic communication is so ubiquitous that it is inherently less valuable. It's more difficult to throw away a note or a cover letter than it is to ignore either in an email message. Digital communication is overused and too often ignored.
Unless you're writing to to someone who is summitting Mt. McKinley, or orbiting the earth in the International Space Station, they have a postal address. Take the time to find their address without asking them directly. Some great resources for this include Google, WhitePages.com, DexKnows.com and the phone book, business cards, or mutual friends. In my humble opinion, it's lazy to ask the person you're planning to write to for their address - it also spoils the surprise.
Be one of the few people who have personal stationery and use it to reach out. Believe me, people appreciate it - and notice that you took the time to write it. It shows that you acknowledge people's time, the knowledge exchange or kindness that was imparted - or the conveying of simple appreciation. It's a life-changing practice that will pay many benefits to your career and relationships.
Do you send personal notes? What personal notes have you received (or not received) that still stick in your mind?
Claire Celsi is a Communications Consultant in West Des Moines, Iowa.