Sending a thank you note after an interview is really more of an expectation than an option. If you overlook it, it could cost you the job—and you know that already.
But what you may not know is that it’s not simply a formality. Your follow-up letter can be surprisingly powerful if you take the right approach. And the trick to taking that right approach is to use a marketing mindset, even if you’re not even close to being in that field. After all, you’re pitching your skills, experience, and character when you’re on the job hunt, which long story short, really means your marketing yourself.
So, with that in mind, try applying these fundamental lessons to your next thank you note:
1. Be Genuine
One of the most tossed around buzzwords right now is “authenticity.” That’s because marketers are finding that audiences across the board—and Millennials, in particular—aren’t responding to brands, messaging, and products that are perceived in any way to be fake.
If your thank you feels insincere (like you only wrote it so you could keep pitching yourself or like you could send the same form letter to any employer), it’ll turn the hiring manager off. Therefore, you want to include something personal.
It could be following up on your conversation with some strategic ideas. Or, it could even reference something lighter—like that you loved the regular team lunch spot or that you subscribed to a podcast the hiring manager recommended. Whatever you choose, add something you genuinely remember or enjoyed about your interview and your gratitude will feel more sincere.
2. Create a Positive Experience
Have you ever decided it wasn’t worth purchasing something from a hard-to-use website? Or sworn off a restaurant due to awful customer service?
These days, it doesn’t take much to turn off a lead. People have too many options available to settle for a mediocre experience. So, as a job seeker, this means you want your follow-up to be well received.
There are three keys to making that happen. First of all, it should be brief, to show your respect the interviewers’ time. (And note: Brief doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include a proper salutation and sign-off.) Second, it should be appropriately formatted and free of distracting typos and grammatical errors. And third, it should be timely. It must be sent within 24 hours—and ideally before close of business on the day you interviewed. Any longer than that, and the decision to move you forward (or not) could’ve already been made.
3. Personalize It
The best marketers strive to deliver a customized, relevant, and compelling message to everyone in their audience. Because, as you know, sending out a single, generalized message to a variety of different people won’t yield the same results.
The same logic applies to your note. Sending the exact same two-line, “Thanks for interviewing me. I look forward to hearing back!” might check the box for sending something, but it won’t help you gain any ground.
Along with being genuine about what you’re drawn to or excited about, take the time to really consider what the interviewer is looking for. Add in a line or two that speaks to his or her needs and makes the case that you’re the right fit for the position. Think: “I appreciate that the organization is going through a period of leadership transition—and I’ve worked at two other companies that went through the same thing.”
Along those lines, if you interviewed with multiple people at the same company, make each follow-up (slightly different). The colleagues may compare notes, and won’t be as impressed if you sent the exact same template out to everyone.
Putting all of this together, a great example would look like this:
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this morning about your new email manager position. I especially enjoyed hearing about your own experience at the company and how you found personal success there.
From what you’d told me about [Company] and its team-driven, high-accountability culture, I think I’d fit in well. My long history of working in collaborative environments at places like [Current Organization] and [Previous Employer] would enable me to quickly integrate my list management and automation experience to improve your campaigns. I know I’d be able to improve your open and response rates at a time when you’re trying to expand into the new tech market you mentioned.
Thanks again for your time. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you!
P.S. Since we discussed my A/B testing and analytics experience, I’ve attached a couple relevant reports from my last job as examples.
When you’re competing for a job, you want to set yourself apart whenever possible. Your thank you note is “the last word” on your interview, so you should think of this as your final opportunity to market yourself as the best possible candidate out there.
Photo of person typing courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Mark is marketing manager for MarketPro, a marketing executive search and staffing agency. He writes career advice for marketers, comments on trends that impact marketing jobs, and advises marketing leaders on how to build and maintain high-performing marketing teams. You should try his vegetarian shepherd’s pie.More from this Author