One day in September 1996, I was talking to Steve, my manager.
We had just interviewed a woman for a writing job. Discussing how we ourselves had been hired, I mentioned that I had mailed a thank-you note to the manager who interviewed me. “So did I,” replied Steve. And we were both hired. Wasn’t that a coincidence?
The next day, we each received a thank-you note in the mail from Leitha, the woman we interviewed. We hired Leitha.
Coincidence? I think not.
Because, according to the American psychologist William James: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
When you thank someone, be it an employer after an interview or a friend who gave you a job lead, you help satisfy their need to be appreciated. Which can propel you faster toward employment.
And it all starts with two words: Thank you.
Here are the Whom, How, and When of giving thanks to employers that can help you get hired faster …
1) Whom do you thank?
You already know to send a thank-you note to hiring managers after every job interview. But that’s the bare minimum.
You can spread more goodwill -- and start more positive conversations about you -- by writing and saying, “Thank you,” to every person you meet at a potential employer, starting with the receptionist. Every. Person. You. Meet.
Ask everyone for a business card and give them yours in return. If someone is card-less, ask for their name. Then, call the receptionist after the interview and ask for help in clarifying or spelling any names. You’ll avoid mistakes and leave a terrific impression by making that simple phone call.
But don’t limit thank-you notes to employers. Mail them to anyone who does you a favor during your search: friends, relatives, vendors, neighbors, former co-workers, et al. If you mail at least one thank-you note per day, you’re on the right track. Two or more are better.
In the book, You, Inc., Harry Beckwith writes: “Handwritten thank-you notes feel like gifts because you took the time to find the paper and envelope, write the note, affix the stamp, and gift-wrap your note in its package.”
2) How do you thank them?
To be clear, you will write and mail one of those thank-you notes available at any office supply store (they come in boxes of 20-25), with a matching envelope, and a stamp. If your printing is neat, write your notes by hand.
What if your handwriting is illegible? I used to suggest laser printing a thank-you note and then signing it, but no more. I’m now convinced that nothing beats a handwritten note. So take the time to print a note that’s legible.
To be extra clear, a text message, voicemail, or email can never take the place of a thank-you note sent by mail. Never, ever.
To remove a final excuse -- writer’s block -- here’s exactly what to say in your thank-you notes to employers:
Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me this morning.
I want you to know that I am extremely interested in the position of INSERT JOB TITLE we discussed. Based on the needs for insert BRIEF JOB description you outlined in our talk, I am sure that my skills in INSERT 2-3 SKILLS can help you in this area.
In any event, I want to thank you for your time and consideration. It was a pleasure to meet you and INSERT ALL OTHER NAMES.
Your First and Last Name
3) When do you thank them?
Speed thrills. The faster you thank an employer or helpful friend, the more they’ll appreciate it.
Example: Mark Mullins, from Phoenix, Arizona, was hired in April 2010 after interviewing with a high-tech firm. He credits part of his success to a rapid response. “I went from the interview to a FedEx Kinko’s store, used their computers to print a thank-you letter, went back to the employer and delivered it by hand,” he says.
To save time, bring a box of thank-you notes with stamps to your next interview. Afterwards, write your notes in the parking lot. Drop them in the nearest mailbox on the way home. Your letters will arrive the next day and carry maximum impact.
Now. Here’s the kicker: In my experience counseling job seekers since 1996, I have never met anyone who faithfully mailed thank-you notes and struggled long-term to find a job. That’s how powerful thank-you notes are. Try mailing 10 this week and prove it for yourself.
Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0.” Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit www.MyNewJobHunt.com