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Thank You Notes: The Candidate Difference

A few weeks ago, a young lady applied for a HR role with an up and coming HR & Consulting firm. There was the initial phone screen with the CEO, the 2nd interview with one of the senior consultants, and the final step was an in-person interview (along with one other potential candidate) with the entire HR team…no pressure. Although a bit worried about the stiff competition, she left the interview feeling pretty good. Within a couple of hours, an offer letter was extended. I graciously accepted.

What ultimately separated me from the other candidate…my upbeat personality, winning smile, great conversation? Absolutely! But, it was the thank you letters I sent after each interview that made a huge difference. How do I know? The CEO told me so.

It’s interesting how we are taught not to sweat the small stuff, but something a small as “…thank you for taking the time to speak with me today…” can ultimately be just the extra push you need to set you apart from the pack. I bet you are saying to yourself, But I was nice, polite, said please and thank you…even shook their hand before I left…that should be enough right? Maybe. But let me give you a few reasons why a simple “thank you” is so important.

First, the job market is super competitive. Yes, I know your resume is all shiny and well-laid out with its streamlined formatting, clean font, and bold headline that highlights your vast knowledge, wealth of experience, superior skills, and super hero ability to save sinking company profits in a single bound. So does hundreds, if not thousands, of other applicants that are vying for that one available spot at the same company. Very few applicants send thank you notes after an interview, let alone a phone screen with the recruiter. Sad, but true. Will it hurt to take a few extra minutes to send a thank you to the hiring manager? Not at all. Could it make your resume and winning personality stand out even more? It could.

Second, it gives you a chance to reiterate how you will be an asset to the company. Yes, I know you stated in the interview how you single-handedly saved your last company from the brink of disaster and financial ruin. Or maybe you forgot to elaborate more on how you were the lead behind the new software integration project that was completed before deadline and under budget. A thank you letter is a great opportunity to briefly restate why you are the best candidate for the job.

Third, and probably the most important, it’s just plain common courtesy. In our modern society of text and direct messages, tweets, and chats, it is easy to forget that everyone’s time is valuable. In a time where sending an emoji through an application confirms restaurant reservations, schedules your doctor appointment, and breaks off a tumultuous relationship without so much as an actual phone call, let alone human interaction, it’s polite and respectable to acknowledge and thank your interviewer for taking the time out of their day to meet with you. Just like you, the hiring manager could be doing other things with their time – like interviewing other candidates (hint, hint). Instead, they are taking the time, effort, and resources to get to know you, schedule time to talk with you, invite you in for an in-person interview…you, you, you. See where I’m going with this?

Writing a thank you note doesn’t require a great deal of time. Ideally, you should send a thank you note the same day as your interview. It may not be a big deal to you, but it could make all the difference between hiring you and the other guy who was invited to the interview. Thank you, 4 Point Consulting.

Swanie Brooks is the HR & Recruiting Intern at 4 Point Consulting.

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