Thank you letters: Politeness pays off in the job search

   Your mother was right. Saying “please” and “thank you” is important. This motherly advice is relevant in the job search, too.

Cover letters often go hand-in-hand with resumes, so job seekers are usually familiar with them. But a thank-you letter sent after an interview is equally important. It thanks the employer for their time and reiterates your interest in the position. Consider the following tips when preparing a thank-you letter.

Don’t delay: Send a thank you-letter within 24 to 48 hours of your interview. Doing so makes it easier to write (topics discussed are fresh in your mind) and gives a positive impression.

Tailor the delivery to the audience: While typed or emailed thank-you letters are standard, consider who’s receiving it. If the interview was fairly informal, the organization’s culture is laid-back or you established an immediate rapport, a hand-written note could also work. Additionally, hand-written notes stand out more than another email received in an employer’s inbox.

Keep it short: A thank-you letter should be no longer than three brief paragraphs.

Follow a standard format (even when handwritten): The first paragraph literally thanks the person for the interview. The second paragraph discusses your skills and qualifications for the job. Here’s where you can mention skills you didn’t have the chance to talk about during the meeting. The third paragraph closes the letter by restating your interest and your anticipation at hearing about the opportunity.

Proofread: Check spelling, grammar and typos. If you didn’t get a business card and are unsure of how to spell a person’s name (or what their job title is), take the time to contact the company to confirm.

Write a letter to all interviewers: If the interview was a group format or a series of individual interviews, write a thank-you note to everyone you spoke to.

Personalize: Add a “professionally personal” touch to thank you notes. Reference a particular conversation that took place during the interview with that person. Not only does it show you’re making a connection, it will help the person better remember your interview.

Be enthusiastic: The thank-you letter is the last impression you’re going to leave with the interviewers. Make sure it’s a great one.

Too often job seekers mistakenly believe that sending a thank-you letter is an extra step they can take if they want to. Think of it this way: If the other job candidate is taking this “extra step,” which is more likely to receive an offer?

Mom was right! Take time to say thanks!