Writing Thank You Note

5 Characteristics of an Outstanding “Thank You” Note

Written by Colleen Coleman

In the professional world, a little gratitude goes a long way. Many hiring managers further narrow the field of candidates they interview simply by looking at which candidates send a post-interview thank-you note. So a thank-you note can strengthen your candidacy. Post job-interview, however, is not the only occasion that calls for a thank-you. As a college student, you transition between different workplaces quite frequently. The end of summer sees you from your summer job or internship to on-campus work. Fall semester to spring semester can mark another transition; perhaps you’ve landed a new on-campus job. At the end of the spring semester you move from on-campus employment to another summer job or internship. This means that each year at college, you should be writing at least 4 workplace thank-you notes. If you conduct informational interviews or job-shadows, that number will be even higher. Don’t let this intimidate you! Writing thank-you notes to your workplace contacts (interviewers, employers, internship supervisors, etc.) allows you to reflect on your work experience and career plans, cultivate a spirit of gratitude, and strengthen your professional network. It’s not too difficult and it’s well-worth your time. Here are the 5 characteristics of a winning workplace thank-you:

  1. Timely
    After you’ve interviewed for a job, finished a summer/semester job/internship, or conducted a job-shadow or an informational interview, don’t dilly-dally. It will be easier and more effective to write while your memories of the experience are still fresh. Typically, you should allow at least 4, but no more than 24 hours, to pass before sending your thank-you note. Sending a thank-you note too quickly can give an interviewer or employer the impression that you didn’t take the time to reflect on your experience and digest what you learned. Waiting too long, on the other hand, can be read as a lack of enthusiasm about a job position or a lack of gratitude for an experience.
  2. Specific
    An effective thank-you note says more than “thank you for the opportunity and your time.” Tailor the thank-you note to your recipient and use the note as an opportunity to show that, during the interview/job/internship, you were engaged and attentive. If you are writing to an interviewer, you can mention a specific subject you enjoyed discussing during the interview. If you are thanking an employer, briefly describe the aspects of your job that you most enjoyed and the value of your experience.
  3. Simple
    Avoid flowery language and long sentences. Be clear, concise, and maintain a professional tone. In addition to the words on the paper, the paper itself should be simple in format. Use stationery that is neutral-colored.
  4. Heartfelt
    Make sure your statements are honest and sincere. If you are writing a thank-you to an employer who has also mentored you, express your gratitude for their mentoring. The longer you’ve worked for someone, the more heartfelt your thank-you note should be.
  5. Handwritten
    While it is a good idea to send a thank-you note after an interview as an email (still following the “at least four but no more than 24 rule”), especially if you are aware that a decision will be made quickly, a handwritten note will stand out and distinguish you from other applicants. Unlike an email, quickly typed and sent at the click of a button, a handwritten note symbolizes a sacrifice of time. Take a little extra time to handwrite your workplace thank-you notes.