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Don't Forget Your Manners! 

By Chris Souther

 

Let's 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 pant suit.
* 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.

AND

* 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 first interview.

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 resumes.


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, etc...

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.

Good luck.
 


Author Information:

 

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.