by Kathy Sweeney, NCRW, CPRW, CEIC, CCM
The average job search lasts between 12 weeks
to 6 months. During that time, a job seeker will send out
many resumes and make multiple contacts in search of new employment.
Today, that search extends into the world
of technology through online posting of résumés,
corporate employment pages, online employment sites, and email.
While the media is changing, the process and etiquette of
a job search are not.
The old saying that the "squeaky wheel
gets the grease" is reversing- the world is so full of
squeaky wheels, that the wheel who runs smoothly and correctly
is the one that gets the attention.
The person who is polite and follows business
protocols correctly gets noticed. In a job search, the person
who goes the extra mile to follow up interviews with a thank-you
note will win points in the selection process.
In this article, I will cover the pros and
cons of sending an email thank you letter.
Traditionally, thank you notes were handwritten
on nice stationery. And, while it still can be effective (and
I generally recommend it - see
this article), there is an alternative.
In today's world, with technology being what
it is, job seekers are finding that sending email thank-you
notes has some advantages.
First, email is easy and therefore more likely
to be sent than a handwritten or typed letter. Second, email
is faster than snail mail. A busy executive who comes in after
a long day of interviewing and finds an email message from
someone he interviewed that day is going to be impressed and
will appreciate the enthusiasm it shows. The busy executive
will also appreciate the efficiency of an email thank you.
On a deeper level, use of email for thank-you-for-the-interview-letters
may have some subliminal advantages. Email is usually intranet-based
and in most organizations it is in-house. An email may quietly
suggest that the job candidate is already "inside" and part
of the organization.
Additionally, email says "technically able"
to the decision-maker. Someone who uses email can obviously
operate in a computer environment. Finally, email thank you
letters are still rare and will therefore stand out in the
crowd. An executive interviews twenty candidates, receives
eight traditional thank-you letters and one email thank-you.
Who is going to be remembered?
While it sounds good, email as a mode of
follow up has its downsides, too. For one thing, old standards
die hard and many hiring managers are traditionalists. Conservatism
still reigns in the world of job search and email may not
always find a warm welcome, especially in the more conservative
Traditionalists may look down upon sending
an email "thank you letter," making it a moot option.
While common in the more liberal field of technology, email
as a mode of follow up may not be favored in the ultra-conservative
field of finance.
Further, many businesses are receiving so
many communications via email, that your letter may get deleted.
The advantage of ease of email may also serve
as a disadvantage. Many hiring managers may consider it "too
easy" and that it does not show effort on the part of the
job seeker to send a thank you via email.
Also, email is a familiar form of communication
rather than formal. Generally, in email usage, first names
are used and business letter format goes out the window. This
format is contrary to the purpose of a thank-you letter, a
If email is to be used for follow-up communication
after an interview, follow some basic guidelines:
1. Be sure it will be well received. Consider
the conservatism of the field and the nature of the interview
when deciding to use email. Also, make sure the interviewer
does not mind being contacted via email.
2. Format the thank you just as you would
a traditional thank you letter. Use business letter standards,
formal salutation, and formal language.
3. Do not overuse email in the follow up.
Be careful not to become just another spammer to the interviewer.
4. Cover your bases by sending a traditional
thank you letter on fine stationery, in addition to the email.
Email is fast, but it is not tactile. Just like snail mail,
it may get lost, get deleted unread, or be victim of some
other snafu. Send both to be safe.
Whether traditional or email, the thank-you-for-the-interview
letter is a vital step in the job search process. Job seekers
who leave out this step label themselves as haphazard, less-than-detail-oriented,
non-enthusiastic, and unconcerned with business protocols.
Sure, its a little extra work in an already time-consuming
process, but it is worth it! Show some enthusiasm and send
that thank you!
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interviews, then it may not be geared to what the Hiring Manager
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