Thank-You Notes

Thank-You Notes Aren’t For Selling Yourself

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Thank-you letters are designed to do one thing – and one thing only: thank a person who met with you.

Unfortunately, many job seekers make the mistake of using the thank-you note as an opportunity to further sell themselves to the hiring team.

Watch my video to hear why thank-you notes need to be short and customized in a way that shows you understand how the hiring process works.

Otherwise, you could “thank” your way right out of the running!

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J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

12 comments

  1. J.T., a note of appreciation for your work here. I find your advice so on target. I particularly like this article since I’ve found that “re-selling” myself in a thank you note always left me feeling sleazy. And by not doing that, you set yourself apart in a very positive way. Thanks again!

  2. Thank you, J.T. O’Donnell.

    Previously, I briefly read this article. However, today I re-read it again, viewed the video, and took notes. Unfortunately, yesterday I just e-mailed a thank-you letter trying to resell myself because after reviewing my interview notes I felt like I missed some key points.

    Oh well, moving forward I will definitely follow the “thank you note” golden rule: Keep it short, simple, and sweet!

  3. I’m so happy to hear your advice J.T. I, like Laura below, have felt that was the correct way instinctively but there is so much advice to the contrary in books and the internet. It has kept me from writing thank you notes because I just haven’t felt good about re-selling myself in the note. Thank you J.T. for making me feel better that it is what it is, a thank you note!

  4. I echo the importance of the thank-you note. I liken it to receiving a gift. Thanking the person(s) who took the time to interview you need to be thanked properly. We live in a civilized world and this is just one more element to showcase your “brand”. A hiring manager is more likely to hire a candidate who knows how to do the right thing without being prompted. Plus, it’s a way to show your soft skills which can get overlooked.

    P.S. I recommend a handwritten note verses an e-mail. Show them you always go the extra mile.

    • Sara, I like the hand-written note too, but when I’ve been on the hiring end of things, I expect a fairly immediate reply (with 24 hours)…a mailed note can take a day or more longer. One other thing: if you write a note, make sure your handwriting is neat and clean. My team once interviewed a woman who sent a hand-written note, but her writing was so messy and hard to read (and the ink was smeared) that it gave a bad impression…would she do sloppy work as well?

  5. Your video/info on thank-you notes was spot on! We get them only occasionally and its very noticeable when someone does take the time. Loved that you don’t push selling yourself in that note… not the place for it. You know your stuff J.T.! Thanks for spreading the good word!

  6. I agree with this post instinctually, but why does every other article on the internet say that you need to use the thank you letter to reiterate why you’re a good candidate??? All this conflicting job advice drives me crazy.

    • Laura,

      I agree with you 100% about the presence of so much conflicting info when job searching. I’ve always heard that candidates should use thank you notes for a final sells pitch. However, JT’s advice makes sense. I’ve decided to try this new approach. Either way, I’m still following up.

    • J.T., some good, concise advice here. Particularly appreciate your comment about personalizing the note — I heartily agree! But as a career coach with over 25 years of experience, I do differ a bit on making the note’s sole purpose thanking the recipient.

      Yes, the note is typically (though there are exceptions) short and sweet. But I see absolutely nothing wrong with not only thanking the interviewer but also reiterating two key points: 1) how interested you are (which you did touch on in your video) and 2) how great a fit you are. This can be done as simply as a single sentence that says something like, “Based on our conversation, I remain confident that this position would be a great way for me to continue to apply my x, y, and z skills.”

      The job-search process is, after all, a sales process. Those of us not oriented towards sales often bristle at that fact. But there’s nothing sleazy about sharing your message in a positive and meaningful way. In some ways, you are doing the employer a service by making a clear and convincing case for why you are the right person for the job — how else can they decide to hire you?

      Also, for those of you frustrated by conflicting advice — you are not alone! The answer is to be discerning about any advice you get, no matter how “expert” the giver. Always look for, or ask for, the rationale behind the advice. If the rationale is not convincing, you don’t need to take the advice! In this case, I really don’t see harm in mentioning how well you fit the job. Employers and recruiters should well know that this is a sales process and as long as it’s handled with some grace, it will come off well!

  7. What about the merits of a hand written thank you note, perhaps even one which is “hand delivered” vs. the e-mail technique? It would seem to evoke more sincerity and enthusiasm and would perhaps differentiate the candidate even more since the hiring manager literally has “something in his/her hand”, not just another of their countless daily e-mails. Your thoughts, J.T.?

    • I’ve been on the receiving end of that. It can work but as I wrote up top, if you don’t have a really nice handwriting and can write really clearly/cleanly, I think it can bomb (as I’ve experienced from an applicant). Poor handwriting that’s not easily legible can reflect negatively on you.

  8. This is one of my biggest pet peaves! Prospects can see right through it as an insincere attempt to get their business. I want relationships built on trust and real compassion for my customers. When I do that, they become friends. And with who better to do business?

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