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Career Coach: A Magic Word – ‘Thanks’

It’s a good time of year to be thankful, so don’t forget to send thank-you notes to potential employers you interview with.

It’s a good time of year to be thankful. And don’t forget to thank prospective employers who interview you. Without delay!

During an interview, jot down high points. These might include a personal connection, something you have in common (you are both huge fans of Jan Lenica’s Labyrinth,) or even a noteworthy remark by the interviewer. You can highlight those points in a thank-you note.

Ask everyone who interviews you for a business card or confirm the spelling of the person's name and their email address. Make sure you have the correct company address before you leave. If you forgot to do this, ask your main point of contact for the information right away so you can mail a thank-you note.

Recently a career coaching client had an interview and felt that he did not do well. I encouraged him to send a handwritten thank-you note in the mail as well as an emailed one.

Whether you met with a series of managers or had an informational interview, always email a thank-you note within 24 hours. If the company wants to fill the position quickly, sending a thank-you email ensures that the hiring manager receives your message before making the final decision.

It makes a positive impression and is a great way to show appreciation for their time.

A thank-you note will help you stand out and might just be the extra oomph you need to help you land the job. A CareerBuilder report showed that 57% of job seekers don’t send thank-you notes after an interview, which means that sending a thank you-email will put you ahead of half the competition. Another study revealed that 1 in 5 recruiters and hiring managers automatically dismiss a candidate if they don’t send an interview thank-you email.

68% of hiring managers and recruiters in a TopResume survey admitted that a thank-you note impacts their decision-making process. Interview thank-you messages have taken on greater importance in candidate evaluations since the COVID-19 crisis began, because many interviews are virtual.           

If you meet with several people, like my coaching client did, send a customized thank-you note to each person you interact with during the interview process. If you say something more than “hello” to the receptionist, feel free to send them one too.

Personalize each note with different relevant points about your conversation and candidacy. Mention commonalities you share with that interviewer to strengthen your connection. Write unique sentences in each thank-you note to every interviewer you spoke with. Use details you learned about the interviewer - such as an upcoming trip, (perhaps to an animation festival), or shared hobby (such as photography like Brad Bird) - in your thank-you note to make your follow-up more memorable.                          

A good thank-you note reinforces the interviewer’s memory of you – increasing your “share of mind.” It reminds the manager about what was discussed during the interview. You might want to replay positives such as your enthusiasm for the job, your willingness to learn new software, etc. or reiterate your qualifications, or remind the manager that they promised to refer you to a colleague at another animation, visual effects, or design studio. Communicate new information or items you forgot to bring up during the interview as well as restating your interest in the company even if no job is currently available.  A company’s needs can change rapidly. A company can suddenly be given a greenlight for a television show or feature so it’s important to stay in touch after the interview in case an opening in your area of expertise becomes available.

If the interviewer expressed a concern about hiring you, address his or her objections in your thank-you note. Restate how your skills and experience answer the hiring manager's needs.

Sending a thank-you note in the mail is more personal and provides the hiring manager with a physical object, which may leave a lasting impression. When sending a thank-you note via snail mail, use a standard business letter format, and hand-write or type the message.

Keep it concise, clear, and sincere. A few sentences should suffice. A thank-you note is an extra opportunity to make a good impression. The shorter it is, the more likely a hiring manager will read the entire note.

A sincere thank you can change your life. Charlton Heston had acted in a film that did not do well and was on his way out of Hollywood but decided to stop by Paramount to say thanks for the opportunity. As he drove in, Heston waved to Cecil B. DeMille, whom he didn’t know but just recognized. DeMille asked, “Who is that guy?” He was casting for The Greatest Show on Earth. They tracked Heston down; he was cast in the film as the general manager of the circus. The movie became a box office success and won Best Picture. It saved his career. Heston would work with DeMille again, starring as Moses in The Ten Commandments, the eighth most successful film of all-time.

Thou shalt be thankful is not one of the Ten Commandments, but employers, recruiters, and interviewers all appreciate common courtesy. A little gratitude may lead to much more to be thankful for. 


Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker, available for personal consultations and speaking engagements. She thanks Dan Sarto and AWN for giving her the opportunity to write the Career Coach column. She also thanks all her coaching clients and recruiting clients and those who have hired her for presentations. If you are interested in her professional services as a career coach, speaker, or recruiter, contact her at