Thank You letters are a lost art, but they’re a vital element to the job interview process that shows employers that you’re not only qualified, but a decent human being. If you want the job, write a Thank You note after the interview.

Since most people have been skipping this interview step, you may not know what to write in a Thank You letter. It’s simple, really. Here’s what to do:

Who Should I Thank?

Send a Thank You note to the person with whom you interviewed, and anyone who was especially helpful in the interview process. We always send thank you notes to recruiters if they went the extra mile to set up the interview and make sure we had all the information we needed to be successful at the interview, too.

Should I Send a Thank You Email?

In our modern world, where everyone communicates in text messages, you may think sending an email is the same thing as sending a proper thank you letter. It’s not. However, there are some times that a thank you email is perfectly appropriate.

Send a Thank You Email after a Phone Interview

If you’re interviewing with a big corporation, the first person you talk to at the company is likely an HR representative. Many times, HR representatives call you for a short, preliminary interview to make sure your qualifications indeed fit their needs, and to make sure you can put a sentence together before they send you on to the next interview stage. At the end of this phone interview, you should immediately send the HR representative a thank you email.

Send a Thank You Email after an Interview, but Follow it with a Real Thank You Letter

Immediately after you leave the interview, you should send a thank you email to the interviewer. You want them to know that you’re grateful, and that you know your manners, but this email does not excuse you from sending a for-real thank you note.

Handwritten or Typed?

If you want to stand out from the crowd, send a handwritten thank you note. The point of the note is not only to show your gratitude, but to show that you are a decent human being. To make a human connection, use writing written by a human (that’s you).

You should keep a package of blank Thank You notes and a sheet of snail-mail stamps handy throughout your job search process. Thank You notes are available almost everywhere. We buy ours at the Dollar Tree, where they are 10 for $1. They should not be cute—skip the kittens and flowers. Instead, opt for a simple thank you note that just says “Thank You” on the outside.

How Do I Start my Thank You Letter?

Start your Thank You note with a simple “Dear Mr. XYZ.” Unless the person with whom you interviewed asked you to call him or her by his first name, use the formal “Mr.” or “Ms.” and their last name.

If your interview was with multiple people, send each of them a separate Thank You note. You want to make an individual connection with each of them, and you can start that by showing your gratitude to each of them, individually.

What do I Write in my Thank You Note?

Your Thank You note should be short—three to four sentences are all you need. Start with one sentence that gives an overall thank you statement, then 2-3 sentences that refer back to the interview. Here are a few examples:

Example 1

Thank you for meeting with me yesterday. I enjoyed learning about the fabrication process and Plastics-R-Us, and I appreciate the time you took to show me around the plant. I am fascinated by your work, and would be excited to join your company.

Example 2

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday. It was a pleasure to meet you, and I appreciate your kindness in introducing me to your colleagues and answering my questions about the executive assistant position at Telephones-R-Us. I can see how important your work is to maintaining the communication channels throughout the United States, and I would welcome the opportunity to work with you.

Example 3

Thank you for a wonderful meeting yesterday. I can see you work with inner-city orphans is essential to ensuring the children have the opportunity to go to college. I am grateful for the time you took to teach me about your work and how I might fit into your processes as a grant writer for Orphans2College. It would be a privilege to join your organization, if selected.

Mail Your Thank You Note Quickly

Don’t procrastinate writing and mailing your Thank You note. Address it and put it in the mail no later than the day after your interview.

What to write when emailing a resume

Applying for jobs can be awkward, especially when companies ask for an application process that feels disjointed. We often see employers ask for applicants to email both a resume and cover letter. Since you’re emailing a cover letter, you have to wonder…what do you say in your email? Obviously, not the same thing you said in your cover letter!

If you are faced with this awkward application situation, keep your cool and follow these rules and examples:

What to Write when Emailing a Resume and Cover Letter

Use a Professional Email Address

If you are still using email addresses with fun code names, like Princess98@yahoo.com or HuggyBear@hotmail.com, it’s time to create an email address for your professional life. We get it—you want to be cute, or geeky, or whatever, and that’s great when you’re emailing your friends and family, but employers see these email addresses as immature, and that’s the last thing you want to seem to an employer.

Your email address is the very first impression employers will have of you since they will see it even before they open your email. Think of it like this: Would you show up to a job interview in your ripped jeans and Chewbacca t-shirt? We hope not. So why would you show up in an employer’s inbox as ChewyFan123?

When choosing a professional email address, use your name. You can use any combination of your first name, last name, middle name or middle initial. Examples include:

  • SamanthaCollins@gmail.com
  • CollinsSamantha@gmail.com
  • SamanthaMCollins@gmail.com
  • CollinsSamanthaM@gmail.com

Definitely do not add a number to your email address, especially not your birth year. You can use most any email service you like, but some, like Hotmail and AOL, look outdated. We prefer Gmail, just because we like it.

Your Email’s Subject Line Should be the Job Title

Keep your email’s subject line short and to the point. To make sure the employer knows exactly why you’re emailing, make sure the job title is in the subject line. Here are some example subject lines:

  • Computer Technician Position Advertised on Indeed.com
  • Computer Technician Application
  • Computer Technician Applicant
  • Replying to Your Computer Technician Job Application

Start Your Email with a Professional Greeting

Emails have become quick communications where we just jump in with what we have to say rather than greeting the person we’re emailing. When you’re emailing a potential employer, don’t skip the greeting. If the advertisement identified to whom you should address your email, use that person’s name as part of the greeting. If you can figure out his/her name from the email address, the user name of the person who posted the advertisement, or something else, go for it. Try one of these greetings:

  • Good Morning, Mr. Sanderson,
  • Greetings, Ms. Johnson,
  • Dear Human Resources,
  • To All it Concerns, (this is your last resort, and skip the “To Whom it May Concern” idea completely)

Explain Your Email’s Purpose (But Keep it Short)

Since your cover letter explains why you’re the perfect person for the job, your email should be short and to the point. Explain why you’re emailing and what you’re attaching, and that’s about it. Tell where you found the job advertisement, the position for which you are applying, and that your resume and cover letter are attached. Your email’s body paragraph should look something like:

I found your advertisement for a computer technician on VelvetJobs.com and believe my skill set fits your needs perfectly. As requested, I have attached my resume and cover letter to this email.

Close Your Email on a Positive Note

When you conclude your email, end with something besides “sincerely.” Remember, you want this person to email you to set up a job interview, so encourage them to do so. Show them that you’re open to further discussion and communication. Try one of these closings:

  • Looking Forward to Speaking with You Soon,
  • Looking Forward to Discussing Your Goals,
  • Looking Forward to Learning more About Your Needs,

Final Checks

Before you send your email, double-check that you have correctly entered the employer’s email address, and make sure you have attached both your resume and cover letter. Be sure your file names tell both your name and what the file is, like Katie_Evans_Resume or Cover_Letter_Jarell_Fox. The more you can make the employer’s life easier, the more they will see you as an asset.

Example Email

TO:  KSmith@private-eye.com 

FROM:  JonesG@gmail.com 

SUBJECT: Private Eye Position Application

Good morning, Mr. Smith,

I found your advertisement for a private investigator on LinkedIn and I believe my skills are a perfect fit for your needs. I have attached my resume and cover letter, as your advertisement requested.

Looking Forward to Learning More about Your Goals,

Gloria Jones

 

Dear HR,

I’m a college student about to graduate and enter the workforce for the first time. I’ve worked a couple jobs around campus, and I did a summer marketing internship at a beach club, but I have no other experience at all.

I’m applying for sales jobs, mostly, but I’d really like to work as a broker or trader. Money is my passion, and I majored in finance.

Who should I ask to be my references? How do I go about asking them? Should I get reference letters too, or just contact information?

Thank you,

Big Money Dreams

 


Who should I ask to be my references? How do I go about asking them?

Dear Big Money Dreams,

Congratulations on finishing college and joining us in the “real world!” Finding your first real job can be tough, and you’re doing the right thing to think about it before you graduate rather than after.

Have you met with your college’s career center yet? They probably have a list of companies who are hiring new graduates. Talk to your professors, too. They know people in your industry and may be able to make introductions for you. Add your professors to your LinkedIN network, too.

Make sure you have a good support group of fellow graduates. Big companies often hire for many positions at the same time, so you can share leads within your support group and find a job faster. Create a Facebook group for this purpose, and then invite people to it. They’d be fools to turn down this kind of invite!

Now, with that bit of advice out of the way, let’s talk about your references. You should be gathering as many as you can because you are going to be applying to several different kinds of jobs, and like resumes, references should be targeted to the job for which you are applying. Here’s a list of who and how to ask:

Ask Your Previous Managers for References

The best people to write references for you are the managers of your on-campus jobs and internships. Employers usually want to hear from at least one person who has managed you so they can ask questions about your attendance, how well you treat customers, and how you handle difficult situations. They also like to ask whether or not your previous manager would hire you again if they had the chance.

To ask a previous manager for a reference, start with an email. If you haven’t seen them in awhile, start by telling them how much you enjoyed working with them and when. Ask how they are, and tell them that you’re about to graduate and you’re applying to jobs. Then ask if they would mind acting as a reference for you. The email might look something like this:

Hi John!

How are you doing? I really enjoyed working with you last summer during the marketing internship. I learned more in the three months I spent with you at the beach club than I did the first two years of college! It was an amazing experience, and I’m recommending it to incoming freshmen.

As you may remember, I am graduating in a couple of months and I am starting to apply for jobs in the finance industry. Would you mind acting as a reference for me? It would be a big help, and I would truly appreciate it.

Thank you,

Your Name

In most cases, you don’t need previous managers to write formal recommendation letters for you unless you decide to work in education or a similar industry. Do gather their email address, phone number, and information about where they work now, though. Keep in touch with them as you know employers will be checking your references so they are prepared and watching for the phone call, email, or survey.

Most every employer will want to talk to at least one person who has managed you, so be prepared to include them on most every job application.

Ask Your Professors for References

Remember when we talked about how your professors have contacts in the industry that might help you find a job? They make great references, too. Even better, they write a lot of references, so they won’t mind at all when you ask them.

When it comes to professors, ask them about it in person. Go to their office during office hours and have a candid conversation about the kind of jobs you are seeking. Ask them to make recommendations on places you should apply or people you should meet. Then, ask them if they would mind acting as a reference, and in this case, ask them to write you a reference letter. If you decide to go on to an MBA (from a very good college, or it’s not worth the money) in a couple of years, you will need reference letters from former professors.

Ask Peers for References (the Right Way)

Remember how we talked about the fact that you need a good support group of your fellow graduates so you can chase job leads together? You will have one person in that group land a job first. Once that person is in, he or she becomes your reference. Many big companies offer referral bonuses when an employee recommends someone and they are hired. So, it’s a mutualistic relationship—you get a job, and the other person gets $500-2000 as a bonus for referring you.

Use your support group, LinkedIN, Facebook Messenger, or email to ask for this kind of reference. Go to the company’s website and see the positions for which they’re hiring, and let your peer know you’re interested. After they refer you, use their contact information as one of their references. They should be cool with it since they’re referring you.

Seriously, if you don’t start a graduate support group right now, you are cheating yourself out of one of the most valuable networks you could possibly have.

Don’t Ask Your Mom for a Reference

This should go without saying, but don’t use family as references, especially your mom. Most places won’t even accept this sort of reference, and your application will end up in the trash bin. Don’t ruin your chances because you’re too lazy to ask the right people to act as references.

You Have a Network. You’ve Got This. 

Now you have a good pool of people who can act as references for you. You have previous managers (I count at least three from your letter), professors (20 or so in most degree programs), and peers (50+). Go out there and network your way to a fantastic job!

Best of Luck,

HR


 

 

Dear HR,

I was just laid off and I need a job fast! What is the best way to spend my time in my job search? I know you say I should tailor my resume and cover letter for each job I apply for, but that takes a lot of time. If I just have one resume and cover letter, I can send it out to at least 25 places every day. At most, I can only apply for five jobs per day with a custom resume for each job.

Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for? Explain to me why sending out a large quantity of resumes won’t work.

Thank you,

Confused about Resumes

 


Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for?

Dear Confused about Resumes,

First, we are sorry to hear that you’ve been laid off! We know that is a scary thing to face, and we applaud your tenacity to find a job quickly. Unfortunately, sending out dozens of generic resumes everyday isn’t going to shorten your search. In fact, it might lengthen it.

Do you remember the Friends episode where Rachel sends out hundreds of resumes, all with a major typo on them? Well, that episode is more than 20 years old, and even then, it’s not how Rachel landed her first job in the fashion industry. It’s the act of a desperate person who doesn’t know how to job-hunt and is just hoping for a miracle.

Recruiters can smell desperation. Would you hire a desperate person? In most industries, probably not. Recruiters are looking for competent employees who actually want to work for their companies. They are looking for the person who is going to bring value. If you send them a generic resume and cover letter, what message are you sending? The message they will see is that you didn’t care enough to take the time to craft your materials to their job description.

Even worse, if your resume and cover letter doesn’t fit their job description, how does the recruiter know that you are the right candidate for the job? If you don’t customize your keywords and skill list for the job, your materials might not fit the job description. Even if you know you can do the job, remember that the recruiter or potential employer doesn’t know you.

So, your question is about what will work faster to find a job: quantity or quality. The answer is, undeniably, quality. There are a couple short cuts you can take to speed up your search, though.

Create a resume for each kind of job you want to do

If you are like most job searchers, there’s a few jobs you think you could do reasonably well. The wise thing to do is to create a resume for each kind of job that reflects the keywords employers are looking for in that industry. That way, when you need to customize a resume for a specific employer’s advertisement, all you have to do is take your pre-created resume that most closely fits the advertisement’s criteria and make minor changes to wording to reflect the words used in the ad. This step should save you at least an hour on each job application, but you do have to do a bit of work up front to create a few different resumes.

Keep a text-only resume so you can copy/paste information in job applications quickly

One of our favorite time-saving methods is to have a basic, text-only resume saved in NotePad or TextEditor. You can easily copy/paste information from your previous jobs into each job application, which saves a ton of time.

Keep a log of your answers to job application questions

Job applications usually ask you questions at the end that require a typed response. Before you submit your response, copy/paste the question and your answer in a Word file. Then, next time you have an application with the same question, you can clean up your answer to fit the employer’s job advertisement. Time saved!

Tap Your Network

The absolute best way to find a job quickly is through your network. You should have a solid LinkedIN profile, and you should set the recruiter alert to show you’re looking for a job. You should also email colleagues and let them know you’re looking for a job so they can keep an eye out for jobs that are right for you. You never know—someone might have the power to hire you on the spot. Your network is your most valuable job-hunting asset.

Best of Luck,

HR