Job search correspondence comes in many forms: resumes, cover letters, emails, follow-up letters, thank-you notes and more. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the follow-up letter and thank-you note. No matter how you respond to job opening advertisements and postings, whether by email, in person or by U.S. mail, a follow-up letter or thank-you note is always appropriate. Follow-up letters are ideal after a significant meeting or discussion with potential and current employers, networking contacts, recruiters, as well as other influential business associates. A traditional thank-you note is essential following all job interviews, even those that might not have led to employment.
Every professional interaction, whether online, by phone or in person, presents an opportunity for further correspondence. After an important meeting with a colleague, business contact, recruiter or potential employer, remember to send a follow-up letter. An effective follow-up letter is more than a simple “thank-you-for-your-time” note. It is an opportunity to reinforce your conversation, confirm action items and further describe your qualifications. In addition, you can include much of the information found in your cover letter in your follow-up letter.
When preparing a follow-up letter, it is best to:
• Mail your letter within 24 hours of meeting. Address the person with whom you spoke by his or her full
name and title.
• Express appreciation for his or her time, advice and consideration.
• Summarize the important points of your conversation (to show you were listening, as well as to
remind the recruiter or interviewer of your discussion; add a personal touch, if possible).
• Express your enthusiasm for the project, position and company.
• Request an interview or other next step, if appropriate.
• Include a new, more detailed copy of your resume.
While thank-you emails are increasingly common due to time constraints, traditional thank-you notes sent by mail are more professional and remain preferred. Handwritten notes to personalize your relationship with business contacts are recommended. Taking the time to write a thank-you note demonstrates your appreciation and interest in a potential job and addresses any necessary follow-up items. As with follow-up letters, it is best to send your thank-you note within 24 hours of meeting with your contact. Avoid coming across as generic and insincere by echoing some specifics of your meeting in your thank-you note.
Follow-up letters and thank-you notes are instrumental in making a second good impression on your interviewer, allowing you to rise above the competition. Writing them clearly and concisely is also critical. Even after putting your letter or note together, additional fine-tuning may be necessary. Proofread and spell-check all of your written communications. If necessary, ask someone whose opinion you value to read your correspondence and offer constructive feedback. For additional professional letter-writing assistance and techniques, look to the many how-to manuals at your local library or bookstore, or check the web. IBI