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Handwritten Thank-you Notes: old-fashioned or in vogue?

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It always amazes me to hear employers comment on how infrequently they receive notes of thanks following interviews with prospective candidates. According to Katherine Hansen, Ph.D., from Quintessential Careers, only about five percent of job seekers send thank-you notes. This is a critical aspect of the job searching process which provides an opportunity to show professionalism while reinforcing your interest in the position.

Common questions I hear from job seekers focus on format and content. Are handwritten notes old-fashioned or in vogue? Should you send an email? If so, when and saying what?

While e-mailed 'thank-you's' are becoming more popular and acceptable to many employers, I still often recommend a professional, hand-written note. Because hand-written notes are now seen as a thing of the past, anecdotal feedback from a sample of employers reveals that they have potential to stand out because of this. However, if you know that a hiring decision is being made immediately, you may not have time for traditional snail mail. In this case, an emailed thank-you can be more beneficial and efficient. It's important to consider the circumstances involved.

Here are some additional tips on making your thank-you work in your favor:
Send it immediately - within two business days - following an interview to all interviewers who were involved in the process (be sure to have correct spelling of names and contact information!)
Tailor the content to highlight specific aspects of the interview that you most appreciated.
Reinforce your interest in and fit for the position for which you've applied. If you forgot to mention something important about your qualifications during the interview, it may be appropriate to include it in your note.
Keep it short and sweet. They already received your cover letter, application, and resume, so there's no need to restate all of your qualifications.
Use professional stationery and handwriting. If you've been told your handwriting looks like that of a second grader, consider typing a letter with your signature.

It's a good reminder that the job searching process doesn't end when you walk out of your interview.

Christy Hanson
Director of Career Development
Messiah College, Grantham, PA

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