Hand-written thank-you notes are a rarity. You know this much. And for that very reason, they can actually make you stand out after a job interview, says Patricia Rossi, a business etiquette coach and author of Everyday Etiquette: How to Navigate 101 Common and Uncommon Social Situations. “Whoever goes out of their way to hand-write a note will likely make an impact on the employer and be seen as someone ‘who goes the extra mile,’” she says. Here, Rossi answers your five biggest thank-you-card-writing questions, and shares the new rules to keep in mind before you whip that pen back and forth:
1. What if I have really bad handwriting? Does that mean I shouldn’t write a thank-you note after all?
All handwriting skill-levels are welcome. “The number one hedge I get across the board is, ‘My handwriting stinks.’ So does the rest of the world’s!” says Rossi. “Print, print, print as legibly as possible. People love to get a thank-you note no matter what the handwriting looks like. It’s very authentic and personalized.”
[Related: Why You Should Write Notes by Hand]
2. Since a thank-you note via snail mail might take a while to get there, should I send a thank-you e-mail, too?
Double-up, says Rossi. Email a thank-you message, and mail a handwritten note within a day or so after the interview. “The sooner the message is received, the greater impact it will have,” Rossi adds.
3. What about the design of the card? Is it safer to stick with something simple, or should I go with something that shows off my personality?
Depends on your industry. “If you’re interviewing for a creative field, then it can be more colorful,” Rossi says. A graphic designer, for instance, may like a thank-you note with more visual impact. For a conservative field, like banking, however, Rossi says it’s best to stick with something simple.
4. How much should I write?
Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. “The note should be three to four lines long and take about three minutes to write,” Rossi says.
5. What are the main points it should cover?
Start with an initial word of thanks (“Thank you for taking the time to meet with me about X position.”), then mention something you discussed during the interview (“I’m already thinking of big ideas for your winter marketing campaign.”), and a closing line, which can also mention something more personal, if it feels natural. (“Please let me know if you need anything else from me as you make your decision—and in the meantime, have fun on your annual camping trip!”)
[Related: Tricky Topics: Business Etiquette for Thank-You Notes, Office Gift-Giving & More]
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