On average, a job opening in the U.S. attracts 250 applications, but only four or five candidates from that pool are offered the chance to interview, according to Jobvite's 2019 recruiting benchmark report, which analyzed data from 10 million applications and 50 million job seekers.
If you're one of the lucky few who lands an interview, career experts say there's one simple thing you can do to stand out from your fellow candidates. Hand-write a thank you note and mail it. Some hiring managers won't even consider you without one.
"Throughout the entire job search process, your main goal should be differentiation, and interviewing is no different," says career strategist Jena Viviano. "So, in this digital age, taking the time to pick out a card, write a thoughtful message, and send it in the mail sets you apart from your competition."
Here's how to write a stand-out thank you note that can help you land your next job.
Do more than offer a generic "thanks for meeting with me." A thank you note is another great opportunity for you to market yourself, and it can provide you with another chance to convey your enthusiasm for the role, says Kori Burkholder, a career transition coach. She suggests including a solution to a problem that was addressed in the interview, "or show off an idea that may have popped into your mind after."
If a part of the conversation was memorable, call it out, Viviano advises. "Recall something you and the interviewer talked about that will help them remember you better."
Don't just send one thank you note, says Burkholder. "You should send one to each person you interviewed with and anyone else who may have gone the extra mile for you."
That could include a note to the secretary who helped coordinate the interview or your potential new boss's assistant, she says. "Imagine them all being in a meeting after receiving your thank you card. That could spark a conversation about you, which could be a very good thing."
Video by Courtney Stith
"Wait no longer than 24 hours to get that note out," Viviano says. "I would actually send a digital thank you note as well within that 24-hour block. Because of the lag time with snail mail, sending something digital is a good safety measure."
If you get invited back for another interview on the spot, you're not off the hook, Viviano says. "Even if the employer tells you you're heading to the next round, or you got the job, you should still send a thank you note!"
That combo move of writing a personal, specific thank you note that arrives quickly can make a powerful impression, says Burkholder. "It can show any potential employer that you've gone the extra mile and that these traits could translate into how you might perform on the job."
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