Expressing appreciation can boost your career

Counting your blessings is a big topic this time of year and it’s always a good exercise to acknowledge what you are thankful for. Which brings to mind the questions I received the other day about the need to send thank-you notes following an interview.

Their concern was whether sending notes made a difference during the hiring process and if thank-you letters increased their chances of an offer.

Naturally, being invited for an interview and acknowledging the interviewer for their time is a common courtesy and most likely will make a good impression if you have a well written letter.

Most interviewers expect some type of acknowledgement, it’s a sign of professional protocol that’s expected.  If you didn’t send one, it would be noted mentally.

Yet as a job candidate who wants to make a good impression, it takes time to create a memorable response, and without receiving acknowledgement you might wonder: Is a letter really necessary for landing a job?

Here’s the problem with trying to guess if a letter is really necessary: If you guess wrong it could send a negative perception of being unappreciative and of having poor manners.  It’s too risky not to send a thank-you letter.

While a letter may not influence a hiring decision maker to bring you on board, without one it sends a message that you are lukewarm about the position.

I never will forget the thank-you letter story that literally changed a candidate’s career path. He went through the hiring process like everyone else, going on multiple interviews with various departments. Hoping to make a good impression with everyone.

As weeks passed, he received news that he was one of the top two candidates being considered for the leadership role that would add to his career.  As things would happen, he came in second place missing the opportunity.

The offer was extended to the first candidate, yet he did something that most take for granted and second guess – he sent a thank-you letter and followed it up with a phone call even though he wasn’t selected.

In his letter, he mentioned again how he enjoyed learning more about the organization and understanding their goals.  He restated his interest in working with the company and would like to be kept in mind if future needs change.

So, two months down the road an unexpected change happened – the first candidate left.  With the company being in a vulnerable spot, they called him immediately to come in for a meeting.

The hiring manager told him that his thank-you letter and follow up call made an impact on their decision to call him.

Gratitude works best when it’s expressed from sincere thoughts of appreciation. Writing thank-you letters just for the purpose of making a good perception becomes tiring if you only use them to get something in return.

People generally respond to a genuine sense of gratitude, it makes them feel appreciated and during a career transition, it’s important to recognize everyone’s efforts in supporting your goals.

Conveying appreciation is memorable, but consider taking it a step further and follow-up with a phone call, like the candidate who ended up with a great opportunity did.

Here are some suggestions for expressing appreciation:

  • Start by acknowledging their time and interest during the interview.
  • Reinstate your overall understanding of the position discussed and the employer’s needs mentioned during the interview.
  • Correct any type of misgivings or objections that surfaced during your meeting – a good strategy for minimizing doubt on the part of the interviewer while supporting your candidacy.
  • End the letter by communicating your interest in working for them and the company.
  • Keep it short, be concise and make every word count.  You want to keep your thank-you letters around four paragraphs.
  • Respond with a thank-you message within 24-48 hours.

What makes a good thank-you letter?   How does appreciation change your perception of a candidate?






Kim Thompson