Surprisingly, the thank you note is still a heavily debated piece of the job search. While many people know it’s important to make sure every interviewer is properly thanked for his or her time, I’ve had a number of conversations that end with, “Eh, what’s the big deal?”
And to be honest, I have a hard time hiding my disdain whenever I hear this—but it’s also a good reminder that some people still don’t realize the power of this “old-fashioned” career move.
Before you take some bad advice and skip this step of the interview process, you should know that you’re missing out on some really big perks. Specifically, here are three things you’re cheating yourself of whenever you don’t send a thank you note.
1. Your Chance to Nudge Your Application to the Top of the Pile
No, seriously. When I was a recruiter, thank you notes were often a tiebreaker whenever we couldn’t decide between two contenders who were otherwise equal. And there were a couple times when one of them made it easy for us by skipping the thank you note altogether. That was great for us—but of course, not as good for the person we passed on.
Hiring managers aren’t just looking for qualified candidates. They’re also looking for people who really want the job and are excited about the company’s mission. So, there’s no better way to show you’d be pumped to join the team than by sending a thank you note, especially early on in the interview process when you’re competing against more people and trying to stand out.
When you know you’ll be up against some fierce competition, put yourself ahead of the pack and make sure you send out those emails to everyone you met within 24 hours.
2. The Chance to Make the Hiring Manager’s Day
I always really enjoyed meeting the interesting people we interviewed. But it was challenging because I’d often do three to four interviews in a row, which is a huge drain. So, whenever I got to read a sincere thank you note from someone I had recently met, it always put a huge smile on my face. Seriously, it’s that simple to make a hiring manager’s day.
The best recruiters always appear really upbeat, but the truth is that even they can get worn down by the process. And a thank you note, even if it’s simply to express sincere gratitude for the time they took to chat with you, goes a long way in giving them an extra boost to get their jobs done. Fortunately for you, their job is to hire great people like you. So, when you make them smile, you’re also doing yourself a huge favor.
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3. The Chance to Become an Even Stronger Contender
You know that feeling when you walk out of an interview and realize you could’ve phrased an answer more clearly, or cited a better example, or refrained from using a swear word to express your excitement over content marketing strategy? So do most other candidates.
Your thank you note’s a chance to make up for any mistakes you made. Or, to emphasize why you’re the most qualified person. And yes, while recruiters can rule you out based on your first impression—when I was hiring, I was always open to being convinced that I was wrong. So, when candidates took the trouble to clear something up after their interview, it meant a lot to me and often moved a “no” into the “yes, maybe” pile.
In fact, one of the best thank you notes I ever got was fairly long. I later found out that the poor job seeker thought she had said the most offensive thing ever to me over the phone. The truth was, I was just having a rough morning and reacted a little strongly. Two things happened after I read that note though: I reassured her that I was not at all offended, and I went to bat for that person when I chatted with my boss later that day.
As you can see, the thank you note is a really big deal. It could mean the difference between landing your dream job and just missing out. So, while you undoubtedly spend a lot of time and energy nailing other parts of the job search, make sure you’re prioritizing these as well. They don’t have to be the novel-length, but if they’re thoughtful and sincere, they’ll go a long way in making the people in charge know that you mean business.
Photo of thank you card courtesy of Shutterstock.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author