Think about your last job interview. Did you send a follow-up note afterward?
The thank you letter is an overlooked part of the interview process, likely because it comes after what people think is the most important part of the job search: the application and the interview.
But underestimating the value of a well-written thank you letter could jeopardize all the hard work you put into the resume, application and interview. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
Don’t make the mistake of sabotaging your interview by not following up with a polite thank you note. Follow these tips to get it right.
DO take 10 minutes to sit down and write a brief thank you to your interviewer
It’s best to do this the next day, as the longer you wait, the less of an the impact of the letter or email will have. This can be especially important if you attended a career fair, and the interviewer met dozens of other applicants.
DON’T be careless in your composition
Addressing the recipient as a generic “Dear Sir or Madam” shows you didn’t bother to remember his or her name. “Thank you for your time” doesn’t help the interviewer to remember you or leave a positive impression.
DO address the person who interviewed you by name and bring up a high point from your interview
Remind him or her of your skills and strengths in your thank you letter to keep them thinking about why you’d be the right hire.
DON’T ramble on
Your letter will probably receive more time than your resume did, but only because the hiring manager has already invested time and energy into screening and interviewing you. Don’t abuse their patience by writing more than one page.
DO keep it brief
Optimally, you want three or four short paragraphs saying thank you, reviewing the key points and asking to follow up. Thank you letters should always be one page, never longer.
DON’T conclude your thank you letter by simply saying “Thank you”
Sure, saying thank you will definitely be appreciated, but being passive and waiting for the interviewer to contact you again to follow up is not optimal.
DO end your thank you letter with a call to action
This is a sentence or two that pushes (politely) for the reader to take action. In this case, the action should be to get in contact and follow up with your interview/application.
DON’T send one thank you letter
Most people make the mistake of only sending one thank you letter to the interview that they felt went the best, but this might limit your opportunities with other potential employers.
DO send a thank you letter to everyone you interviewed with, even if they decided not to hire you
This will leave a positive impression should they look to hire more people in the future, or if the first choice doesn’t work out. Hiring managers usually have a first, second and third choice for any given vacancy, so following up may bump you up to second or third choice.
DON’T drop the ball when checking for spelling errors, incorrect grammar or poor formatting
Ugly mistakes could actually be detrimental to your application, so take the time to thoroughly go through your thank you letter. Check for any errors and make sure it’s formatted properly to match both your resume and your interview in terms of professionalism.
Remember, in an ever-competitive job market, it’s vital to take advantage of any opportunity to stand out as a job seeker. Following up with a well-written thank you letter could just be the boost your interview needed to leave a lasting impression with your interviewer.
Erik Bowitz is a professional resume consultant for the web’s leading online resume building company, Resume Genius and is also a freeform career enthusiast. He eats, sleeps and breathes resumes and particularly enjoys looking at the world of employment from unique and unexplored perspectives.