Sending a Thank-You Letter after a Job Interview

How much do post-interview thank-you letters really impact hiring decisions? When they're canned, flat, and boring, interviewers may see them as a snore. But when you're in a classy field of candidates, each trying to race through the stretch for the win, skipping a dynamic marketing-tool-of-a-thanks-letter is unwise.

To construct a thank-you letter that actually does you some good, use the same powerful concepts that you would for a targeted resume that directly matches your qualifications with the job's requirements.

The resume and the thank-you letter are book-ends for your interview: The resume is the "before" communicator of your high-value qualifications, and the thank-you letter is the "after" chance to market yourself for the win.

Your resume content and interview performance sold you as being a great fit for the job, punctuated with true and lively tales of accomplishments. Don't stop the winning streak that got you this far — build on it! Here are sales pointers for your thank-you letter aimed at converting your candidacy into a job offer:

  • Express appreciation for the interviewer's time and for giving you a fresh update on the organization's immediate direction.
  • Remind the interviewer of what specifically you can do for a company, not what a company can do for you.
  • Repeat your experience in handling concerns that were discussed during the interview.
  • Tie up loose ends by adding information to a question you didn't handle well during the interview.
  • Reaffirm your interest in the position and respect for the company.

Content isn't the only aspect you need to consider when preparing a follow-up letter. The following are tips for presenting and delivering a letter that gets you noticed:

  • For an important job, a typed dead-tree-industry letter is impressive and memorable; send it by postal mail, or if time is short, via an overnight delivery service.
  • E-mailed thank-you letters aren't out of the question, especially if your potential employer requested electronic communications. Just make sure you use the same care constructing an e-mail letter that you would composing a snail-mail letter. And don't rely on your spell-checker to catch all your errors.
  • The letter can run two, even three pages, if it is flush with white space and easy to read.
  • Write a thank-you letter for the interview within 24 hours to strengthen the good impression you made in person.

You can find a lot of sample thanks letters on the Web; search for "job interview thank-you letters." But before adapting any sample for your own use, make sure that it carries a marketing punch and won't be mistaken for a bread-and-butter "thanks, mister" letter.

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