Mar 252013

An article in a job-seekers newsletter affirmed the value of the written thank-you note as a follow-up to an interview. “With so little coming into the office via mail v. email, it’s a pleasure for many business people to actually open an envelope and read a hand written note. It connects in much different way than a typed email.,” the article said.

True enough. But people who still believe the handwritten thank you is the only appropriate vehicle may be missing some realities of today’s job-hunting environment.

  1. Timing is everything. Even if you write the note in your car after the interview and drive it to the nearest post office, the note probably won’t arrive for 24 to 48 hours. If you interviewed by phone for a long-distance position, the timetable is even longer. The decision could be made before your note arrives.
  2. OOO? Uh-oh. Your handwritten note could languish in a mailbox while the intended recipient is traveling or working from home.
  3. Decisions are made by committee. If you are interviewed by more than one person, do you write more than one thank-you? An email allows for multiple recipients. It also allows one recipient to forward easily to others who might have an influence on the final decision.

None of these are reasons not to send a hand-written note. But they are good reasons to use email as well. My advice: Use the email to provide some added-value content. “One more thought regarding your question about…” Or “I enjoyed our discussion about X. Here is a link to the article I mentioned, which provides some really good solutions.”

The handwritten note can be a more formal thank you, ending with a subtle call to action, like “I look forward to further discussion about this position.”

In short, which vehicle is “better”? The correct answer, as always, is “It depends.”

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