Don't Forget Your Manners!
By Chris Souther
face it; it's not easy finding a good job these days. What with the economic
situation being what it is, it seems as if only the best of the best stand a
chance of getting a callback from a Recruiter, much less an actual Interview.
With millions out of work, everyone is looking for an edge. Be it more
education, a different career, whatever. There has been a lot of talk lately
about things such as Resumes that Work, Interviewing Skills, and other things
that a person can do to improve their chances of landing an Interview.
The Interviewing process is nothing new. Over the years, society has developed
a set of rules regarding this rather severe form of punishment. I like to call
these rules, "Conventional Wisdom."
Conventional Wisdom regarding Interviewing is called that for a reason;
there's some tried and true reasoning behind it, such as:
* Men, always wear a suit and tie to the first interview; Ladies at least a
* Always bring at least two copies of your resume, printed on upscale paper.
* Keep your nails trimmed and clean.
* Be at least 15 minutes early for your appointment.
* Always be nice to the receptionist (because they can be sneaky and report
you if you were a jerk).
There are probably more, but these stand out prominently in the annals of
Corporate employment and are in my opinion, set in stone and unshakeable.
However, it is the "Conventional Wisdom" regarding such things as "Post
Interview Follow-Up," "Salary Negotiations," and "Consecutive Interviews"
who's theories I question.
I want to focus here on the "Post Interview Follow-Up" or quite simply, "The
Thank You Letter" because it is the first thing that one should do after the
Lately people are starting to question the usefulness of this much ignored bit
of protocol. Used to, it was polite to send a "Thank You" letter after the
interview to basically reiterate your qualifications and sneak in anything
that you forgot to mention while you were there the first time. Things are a
little different now. Gone are the days of interviewing 2 or 3 people and
picking the top of the lot. It is not unheard of now for employers to receive
literally hundreds of resumes and to interview dozens for a single position.
One can imagine the amount of mail an employer would receive if everyone sent
a Thank You letter. That could be as cumbersome as the initial flood of
The upshot here for the savvy applicant is that not everyone will send a Thank
You letter. This gives you some nice wiggle room to shine. In the first
interview, you basically had to sit there like an automaton and answer the
questions as they were thrown at you. Unfortunately, few of us actually have
the moxy to do what all of the advice columns say to do, which is "Interview
the Interviewer." Hopefully you at least took that time to gauge the pace of
the office and the personalities of the people you will be dealing with should
there be another interview or even, wonder upon wonders, an Offer Letter.
Therefore, when you write your Thank You letter, start incorporating some of
your personality. It's not OK to tell a crude opening joke, but you can be
witty as long as it is tastefully done. Also, don't let the letter be simply
another blatant "Look at Me I'm Great" tool. It is that of course, but also
use it to show that you understand the pain points of the employer and that
you are just the person to help.
So how should you craft your Thank You letter? KISS. Keep It Simple Silly
(Stupid, Stunning...whatever adjective you feel appropriate). One page if
possible, four main sections.
Section One - Name and address of the person the letter is addressed to.
* Address it to the person and/or persons that you interviewed with, not
simply "HR Manager."
* Make sure your Desktop Publishing software actually put the right date stamp
on the letter.
* Open with a gender-neutral salutation such as Greetings, Hello, Good Day,
Section Two - The Hook - Start your letter with a simple statement Thanking
them for their time and telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and
their staff. Any other short comments about the office, the location or other
similar niceties are also fine.
Section Three - The Line - In the next paragraph, make two or three simple
statements about the job as you understand it and any issues that they brought
up that you could use to set yourself up in the next paragraph.
Section Four - The Sinker - The last section is where you prove to them that
you are the person they are looking for. In section three, you showed them
that you understood their problems. Now, in section four, you tell them
(briefly) how your years of experience and/or education can get them where
they need to be.
Then you just need to wrap it up. Finish off the letter by telling them how
and where they can reach you and of course thank them again for meeting with
you. Don't sound desperate or overly thankful. Just say "Thanks." Feel free to
enclose another business card if you have one. They are relatively inexpensive
to have made and make you look very professional. There is just one other
thing I would like to mention; don't E-mail this letter. E-mail is fine for
resume submission, useless banter with your grandmother, and things of that
nature, but for the love of all things that are sacred, use a little class
here and mail your Thank You letter. If you have a printer that can print on
envelopes, then professionally printing the employers address on the envelope
just makes you look that much more put together.
Following these guidelines is no guarantee of a job, you understand, but if
you do this correctly then you can relax knowing that you did everything you
could possibly do short of a payoff.
Christopher Souther is a
Copywriter and Freelance Writer residing in Atlanta, Ga. On the side
he has published articles on a variety of topics including, Children's
Education and today's Job Market. He is currently revising his free Online
Guide to Job-Hunting for publishing as well as working on another
Non-Fiction book dealing with Adoption.