Hey Millennials: Don’t Forget the Interview Thank-You Note

Millennials Say Thanks

Jason Busch

According to most age guidelines, Jason Busch qualifies as a millennial (born 1980s through 1990s).

That’s why I was so delighted to see his column, “The Power of a Thank-You Note,” in the April 2019 issue of In Business: Greater Madison (Wisconsin) magazine, where he is online editor.

You’ll find plenty of folks who believe that expressing thanks has gone out of style — especially the handwritten versions, and especially among young people.

Even Jason admits:

I still don’t understand the necessity some people feel about sending thank-you notes, or the resentment others have about not receiving them. If I’ve already said “thank you” in person or in a text or an email, why should I also have to send a card? But I’m willing to admit that thank-you notes aren’t such a silly idea when it comes to our business lives.

To what does Jason Busch attribute this enlightened view?

He refers to a study by staffing firm Accountemps that shows only 24% of job applicants sent thank-you notes to their interviewer.

Yet human resource managers surveyed considered those notes helpful in evaluating potential hires. Of those managers, 86% — yes, 86%! — prefer a handwritten thank you.

Because so few people in the business world write thank-you notes, sending one can really make you stand out.

I stress the importance of expressing thanks in my book, Grammar for People Who Hate Rules, citing some wise words by American philosopher and psychologist William James:

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

Busch lists these tips specific to following up a job interview:

Do add value. Instead of writing a generic note, customize the message by mentioning something that was discussed in the interview that stuck with you.

Don’t delay. Send a thank-you note within 24 hours of the interview. Some employers make hiring decisions shortly after the round of interviews is complete, so an initial thank-you email is appropriate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still follow up with a handwritten note.

Do proofread. Typos and grammatical mistakes may come across as a lack of attention to detail. Take the time to review, revise, and refine the thank-you note. (Ruthless Editor’s note: I sometimes write an electronic draft that can be easily reviewed, spellchecked and edited, and then I craft the handwritten note from the final version.)

Don’t be pushy. If you don’t hear from the employer within a week of the interview, it’s appropriate to follow up with a phone call or another email. But do so in moderation. Persistence is laudable, but pestering can get you removed from the short list.

It takes only a little time to express appreciation.

Let’s say a business hosted a networking event you attended. Follow up with a note consisting of three or four lines to the company’s CEO or the person who planned the event:

    • Mention the specific occasion or event.
    • Say why it was important / special / enjoyable / appreciated.
    • Express thanks for the time and effort that went into hosting it.

Chances are, your handwritten note will be broadly shared, extending your networking reach, which was your primary reason for attending the event.

Make an effort to thank someone in writing at least once a week. Showing appreciation is not only good manners; it’s good business.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)