When I was an HR executive I hated thank you notes from candidates. To me it seemed like just another piece of paper to file away in my already messy, paper strewn office. Most candidates actually do not send thank you notes. When I was hiring people I actually did not receive all that many so it was not actually a big burden.
Yet the job search best practice is to send a thank you note after each interview to each person you speak with. Many recruiters strongly recommend the practice. My partner, Dan Toussant, loves thank you notes. He loves receiving them and he recommends everyone send them. He considers it a mark against the candidate who does not send thank you notes.
I decided to ask some other experts. According to the blog, “Ask a Manager”, by Alison Green, thank you notes do not guarantee a job if you are not the best person for the job. She advises that “when the decision is close between you and another candidate, a thoughtful thank you note can tip the scales in your direction – especially if the note isn’t just a perfunctory “thank you for your time” but contains substance that builds on the conversation you had during the interview.”
PRO: A good thank you note might tip the scales in your favor. It needs to be well written and refer the reader back to the reasons why you are wonderful match for the position.
CON: A bland vanilla thank you note, hastily written without reference to something substantial is probably a waste of everyone’s time.
PRO: You can’t predict which hiring managers are like me and hate thank you notes and which are like Dan and love them. So sending a thank you note covers all the bases, just in case in matters. So sending a thank you note will help with some hiring managers and not hurt with others.
In an article for CIO Magazine, “Job Search Tips: Thank you Note Do’s and Don’ts”, recruiters in technical positions sometimes use a thank you note as a way to evaluate a candidate’s writing skills. Even technical positions involve writing project plans, documentation, and manuals.
PRO: A well written thank you note is a visual demonstration that you are well rounded with both technical and communication skills.
An interesting recent article by Alison Green in US News “On Careers” section, How a Thank-You Note Can Boost Your Job Chances”, sending a thank you note shows that you pay attention to details and you are still interested in the position after the interviews. Fair enough.
I like the idea that a thank you note shows you care about the little things. You have a job search process with a beginning, middle, and end.
PRO: Looking well organized in your job search gives the clear impression that you will be well organized and thorough as an employee. This enhances your reputation, which is a good thing.
After looking at it from both sides, there are very few downsides and only good things that can happen from a well written thank you note. At worst it is a waste of time. At best it might distinguish you from your competition, reinforce your interest in the position, and reflect well on what you can bring to the table.
So get out those pencils (or emails) and send those thank you notes immediately after your next interview. It could make the difference!