Mistakes with the thank you notes after the job interview can be a big problem, but NOT sending a thank you can be an even bigger problem.
When the interview is over, the universal response is usually a big sigh of relief that it is done. Whew! Moving on with life, and keeping fingers crossed that it will result in a job offer.
However, there is one more important to-do before you are done.
Before 24 hours have passed, the best strategy is to send thank you notes to each person who interviewed you.
Unfortunately, in an effort to do "the right thing" by sending that necessary thank you note, too many job seekers make mistakes that cost them the opportunity, or at least diminish their chances.
Hopefully, you have laid the foundation for successful follow-up. Then, move on to your thank you notes, ASAP.
The vast majority of hiring managers (86%!) surveyed by CareerBuilder said that candidates who don't send thank you notes after job interviews are demonstrating a lack of follow-through -- a characteristic essential for most jobs.
Use the thank you notes as an opportunity to demonstrate what a great employee you would be.
Email is an acceptable method of sending thank you notes for the majority of employers. Unfortunately, email makes it very easy to send a message too quickly and carelessly.
Very VERY carefully proofread every thank you before sending it, including double-checking the employer name (spelling and syntax), the person's name and job title (again, spelling and syntax), the job you interviewed for, and the date of the interview. If possible, have someone else review it for you.
[Read Sending Your Thank You After the Job Interview for more details and also check out the sample thank you notes listed at the bottom of this page.]
While it is very important to send these thank you notes out very quickly, don't destroy that opportunity in your haste to send out a timely message.
Avoid these mistakes:
If you are emailing your thank you note, putting everyone's name in the "TO:" field (or -- much worse -- the "BCC:" field) on an email is, unfortunately, very easy to do. But, it is a mistake.
If you are mailing paper thank you notes through snail mail, make each note different, too.
The messages or notes don't need to be dramatically different, but strive to make at least one paragraph in unique. In that paragraph, try to remind the person of something you said or have done that seemed to be interesting or important to them.
While you are demonstrating your follow-through, you are also demonstrating laziness, lack of knowledge about proper etiquette, and lack of "customer care." None of those characteristics are particularly valued in the business world.
Be very careful with the names! Misspelling their name is often an opportunity killer. "Attention to detail" claimed in the interview, resume, and/or LinkedIn Profile? NOT demonstrated here!
And, don't tell the marketing manager how interested you are in working for her or him when the job reports to a different person or department.
These are immediate opportunity killers, demonstrating too many negative things from lack of knowledge to poor communications skills.
Sending an important business message from a mobile device can be tricky. For most of us, it's too easy to create typos that auto-correct into something inappropriate. Funny with friends and family, often, but not funny in this situation.
Proofreading can also be challenging, depending on the light and the size of the text. For the most professional message, wait until you have access to a desktop or laptop computer to compose and send your thank you.
This is not the time to comment on someone's appearance, even positively, or to ask them out for coffee or a drink. They may well be good candidates for your spouse or your professional network, but this is not the time to start that relationship.
Wait until the hiring process is over to ask that person out for a date or to a networking event. Then, they will know your interest is sincere, and that you are not trying to gain an advantage in the recruiting for this position.
Show your positive, professional side. Do not take shots at anyone or anything, even the commute.
You can decide later that the commute was so difficult you couldn't face it every day. Or, if you decide that it really is the right job for you, perhaps you could negotiate working from home or figure out other options -- after you get the job offer.
A bland, generic thank-you-for-your-time message is boring. Worse, it doesn't remind the recipient who you are and why they should want to hire you.
You get the idea. This is an important opportunity for you to demonstrate your capabilities and your fit for their job.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
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