Most people think that writing thank-you notes after an important business meeting or a job interview is a nice idea but not really that important. I know I used to think that way, but I was wrong.
Picture this. You just finished a great job interview and you are sure you nailed it. In fact, you are absolutely positive that you are going to get the job offer – only you don’t. Has that ever happened to you? I have and I know it stings.
Of course there could be a number of reasons why you don’t ultimately get a job offer. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because you didn’t go the extra mile by sending a thank-you note or the one you did send was lame compared to those sent by other candidates. As you’ll see, this is very possible.
How do you prevent that from happening to you? Draft attention grabbing thank-you notes that will help boost your odds of sealing the deal the next time you go job hunting of course. Here’s how:
1. Do Not Procrastinate
Everyone is busy – just like you. We’ve all got tons of things on our minds and it’s super easy to forget something or someone unless the matter is urgent. That being the case, you have to get into gear – STAT. If you interviewed with someone chances are high that they met with dozens of other people jockeying for the job you are competing for. Odds are good the interviewer forgot what you look like by the time you closed the door behind you. Don’t let all your hard work in getting the interview go to waste.
You want them to remember who you are. Help them do that by sending your thank-you note the day you met. If you don’t do that, don’t bother sending a message because it won’t mean anything. And if you don’t plan on sending a thank-you note, why bother going to the interview in the first place?
Other candidates less qualified than you are going to take that extra step and because they demonstrate that extra level of professionalism, they might bag the job. The bottom line is, even if you have more skills and experience, if you don’t do this correctly and quickly, you put yourself at an unfair disadvantage.
2. Prove You Were Paying Attention
If you want to win at job interviews, you have to ask really good questions and take notes. This demonstrates you want to add value and contribute to the firm’s success; not just snag a gig.
Take your notes out and refer back to them when you write your thank-you note. Is the firm embarking on a new project or trying to penetrate a new market? Do they have a specific problem they are trying to solve? How are you going to help your would-be employer achieve their most important goals? Tell them in the thank-you message.
3. Use Your Thank-Note To Sell Yourself
This point really is an extension of the one I tried to make above. If you go to the trouble of sending your interviewer a letter, make it count. The best way to do that is to include within the note a few reasons why they should hire you. Match your skills and experience to what the person you met with told you about the company. See the example below for clarification.
4. Fill In The Blanks
I don’t know about you but the more important a meeting is, the more likely I am to forget something. Maybe I get a little nervous or anxious or I get caught up in the moment and forget another important point I wanted to make. If that happens to you don’t worry. Just use your thank you note to address those areas you overlooked.
Likewise, if you didn’t give your best answer to a question or two during the interview, use the thank-you note as an opportunity to rephrase your answer. Believe me, if you think your response you provided during the meeting was sub-par, so does the interviewer. By taking the time to provide a better reply, you demonstrate attention to detail and commitment to excellence. These are two qualities every employer wants.
5. Keep It Business
Sometimes during your interview you’ll uncover something you and the person you met with share in common on the personal side. You might want to add a few words to remind the person of that connection but don’t go overboard.
You might both love Texas Hold ‘Em or Breaking Bad – but personal connections can be a distraction. A quick mention might be OK but don’t dwell on this area. And I suggest that you only bring this up if you can tie it to business goals and your personal skill set.
6. Match Your Tone
Think like a business owner and pay attention to the tone of the meeting. If the person interviewing you is blunt and to the point, respond in kind. If they are a little chattier, loosen up a little in your note. Your skills are important – but so is your personality. Interviewers want to make sure you are a good fit for the team as well. Try to get a sense of what the spirit is in the field and demonstrate you can be a valuable addition to the group.
Bringing It All Together
From the ideas presented above, you might think that a thank-you note takes pages and pages to write. Not true. Here’s an example of a thank-you note that tries to bring all these ideas together:
Thanks again for taking the time to meet with me today. I really enjoyed learning more about XYZ Company. In fact, based on what you told me, I’m even more excited about the possibility of joining your team.
As I understand it, you are keenly interested in developing (fill in the space). Since I spent the last 10 years delivering results in exactly that endeavor, I know I could really contribute towards that important goal at XYZ.
I mentioned in our meeting that advancement is important to me. I stand by that but I’m not sure I communicated what I really meant. While I certainly want to grow in my career, what’s more important to me is the opportunity to excel. Yes, I want to advance – but I don’t expect that to be handed to me. I know I will have to earn it and I’m eager to do so.
In short, I left our meeting inspired. I hope that you your interest matches mine and that we can continue this discussion. With your permission, I’ll follow up in 10 days to answer any further questions and to see if it makes sense to meet again.
This prototype may not fit every situation, but you get the idea. Use your thank-you notes as a way to advance the conversation and solidify your position with the person you met with – even if you are starting at a disadvantage. Show them you paid attention, you are smart, professional and qualified and eager to join the team.
What other elements would you include in a thank-you note?