Just 24% of applicants send a thank-you note after a job interview, according to a 2017 Accountemps survey. But these days, with the hiring process largely virtual during coronavirus, experts say the thank-you note is even more important.
"So many things have been disrupted due to Covid, and that certainly includes typical elements of the hiring process," points out Dorie Clark, author of "Reinventing You." "Given that, it's understandable that many people may feel like previous best practices don't apply, or somehow it doesn't occur to them to handle things the same way. But that may be a tactical error when it comes to thank-you notes."
After all, Clark says, "we can assume that in many cases these employers are going to be interviewing a fairly large number of people back to back on Zoom. It's very easy for the interviews to blend together."
Done right, a thank-you note can help you stand out. Here's why it matters and how to craft an effective one.
Even before the pandemic, hiring managers weren't focused on getting a handwritten note: Fully 94% of them in the Accountemps survey said an emailed thank you was appropriate.
Now, there's even less reason to opt for a paper card. Mail has been slower during the pandemic, says Clark, so a letter may not arrive speedily enough to have an impact. Managers working from home may also be leery of giving out their personal address to candidates, she says. And while the CDC notes that spread via mail is "unlikely," there's still a germ factor that some may be uncomfortable with.
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But don't assume the pandemic gives you more license to be creative with the medium of your thank you, either: Accountemps found that only 56% of hiring managers were OK with a thank-you phone call, and just 7% wanted to receive a thank you via social media.
With that in mind, be sure to ask the recruiter or company point of contact who is scheduling the interviews for the email addresses of everyone you're meeting with, Clark says. That way, you don't have to take up time during your video interview to ask or rely on that coordinator to forward your thank-you note.
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A well-written thank-you note is "not only to demonstrate that you have what we call 'professional manners,' but also to remind them, post-interview, of the key points that you presented during the interview," Chelsea Goodman, president and career elevation officer at Got The Job, told Grow earlier this year. "Especially if multiple candidates are being interviewed, it's hard for the interviewer to remember everything about every candidate."
Make sure your letter accomplishes these four goals.
- Expresses thanks. "You should, number one, thank them for their time," and say you enjoyed speaking with them, says Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster.
- Reiterates your interest. Use your note as "a way of signaling that even after the interview, you remain interested in being considered," Clark says. Tell your prospective employer what came up in the interview that excites you about the opportunity.
- Highlights elements of the interview. "It's always best practice for your thank-you note to be as specific as possible," Clark says. Reference particular aspects of the conversation as a way to remind the interviewer of your qualifications and skill set or highlight capabilities your resume may not easily convey.
- References next steps. You can bring up next steps in the hiring process if the hiring manager mentioned any, says Salemi: "Looking forward to hearing from you next week."
"Short and sweet, you can't go wrong," says Salemi.
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Draft a separate email to everyone you spoke with, including the person who coordinated your interviews. It's OK if the body of the note itself is largely the same, Salemi says.
"In this day and age, with virtual interviews, the small talk is not going to be as extensive," she says. "They're not expecting something that's completely personalized." But if you did talk about something specific to one person — say, a shared alma mater or hobby — "then you can individualize" the note.
Email your thank you within 24 hours of the interview. Before you click send, though, make sure it's "100% free from typos and errors." Don't rely on spellcheck, either.
"Stop, pause, and review that email," Salemi says. "You want to show you're detail-oriented. Make it easy for them to remember you."
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