3 minute read

Follow-Up Letter Follies

Missing The Marketing Mark Without Personalization

Job Seeker's Story

George arrived on time and appropriately dressed in a suit and tie for his logistics management interview with Ms. Meeley, Director of Human Resources. He was familiar with the company and prepared to ask questions that showed his interest in the firm. In short, he did a great job of making a positive impression.

Unfortunately, as George was leaving the office, he turned to Ms. Meeley, shook her hand, thanked her for her time, and handed her a sealed envelope. Surprised, she asked, “What is this?

George responded proudly, “That's my thank-you letter. I even included a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can easily follow up with me about the position.

Ms. Meeley was surprised but recovered quickly, thanking George for his time and walking him to the door. Later, when she reviewed the “letter” she discovered a short, generic, handwritten note that said:

Dear hiring authority,

I appreciate your taking the time to meet with me today to discuss your position. Your insight into the position and the organization's needs was most helpful. I am confident that I will be able to be a strong asset for your company.

Please do not hesitate to call me or use the enclosed SASE to send any correspondence.


George C. Joseph

Job Seeker's Stumble

Some might feel that George was acting proactively by being ready with a thank-you letter at the end of the interview. However, this type of action would, more often than not, leave a poor impression. Why? Though it might seem proactive, it was actually perceived as lazy; anyone could write up the generic letter that George wrote without bothering to take the time to learn the name of the interviewer or connect specific events in the interview within the letter.

Further, this strategy stripped George of the opportunity to create a thoughtful response that allowed him to play up his strengths for the position and to enhance his positive interview presentation.

Job Seeker's New Strategy

George did one thing right: He knew he needed a letter. Unfortunately, the vast majority of interviewees never write a letter. However, a thank-you letter is more than a pleasant courtesy and an opportunity for a job seeker to sell himself for the job. In many cases, the employer expects it and will eliminate a candidate who does not write one.

  • Understand Why You Need a Thank-You Letter: A thank-you letter:
    • • Shows courtesy toward the interviewer for his or her time.
    • • Conveys your interest in the position.
    • • Provides you an opportunity to get back in front of the employer again, in case you have faded into the memory of an employer who has met too many people.
    • • Allows you to introduce information that you neglected in the interview or didn't do a great job introducing.
  • Avoid Common Mistakes: Don't:
    • • Send generic or canned thank-you letters.
    • • Fax or e-mail thank-you letters. (Of course, if all communication has been by e-mail and the employer will be traveling, the rules change.)
    • • Hand a thank-you letter to the employer at the end of the interview.
    • • Forget to sign the letter.
  • Include Common Letter Elements: Your letter should do the following:
    • • Highlight what the employer liked about you.
    • • Cover positive information you wish you had said in the interview.
    • • Express your skill in areas that the employer showed concern over.
    • • Make a positive impact.
    • • Ask for the next step in the interview process.
  • Apply Easy Steps to Capture the Essence of the Interview for Your Letter: Each time you leave an interview, you can be assured you will be ready to make the most of your thank-you letter if you:
    • • Make sure to have the full name, correct spelling, and title of each interviewer before you leave. Asking for business cards is a great way to do this. NOTE: It is a very good idea to send an individual letter to each person with whom you met.
  • • Directly following the interview, jot down answers to the following:
    • • Key questions that were asked.
    • • Answers that captured their interest or which they said represented important skills for the position's requirements or organization's challenges.
    • • Concerns they voiced.
    • • Information you wish you had shared in regard to their requests.
    • • By jotting that information down, you will be prepared to return home and flesh out a personalized letter to the interviewer(s) that expresses your interest, reiterates your strengths and match for the position, and overcomes any concerns you might have left the interview with at the end of the interview.
    • Write Your Letter: Now you have all the needed ingredients to gather the right information and write the best thank-you letter.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsFollow-Up Letter Follies - Creativity Goes Over The Top And Out The Door, Do Not Shoot Yourself In The Foot