‘Thank you’ Letters

I have written recently about sending ‘thank you’ letters after you’ve been unsuccessful in a job interview – and by ‘thank you’, I hasten to add that I mean ‘thank you for allowing me to compete’ rather than ‘thank you for rejecting me’

Some – perhaps even the vast majority – of people believe them to be a waste of time. In their view, the job has been given out; the employer has forgotten about you, move on, nothing to see here, folks.

However, I beg to differ.

In my view, if a ‘thank you’ letter has a positive impact even once in 100 journeys, it’s worth sending out. In job-hunting, the percentages aren’t always favourable. Your CV doesn’t always elicit a positive response – or any response at all – but it doesn’t mean you stop sending it out.

I emailed one employer to ask him how he reacted to ‘thank you’ letters from an unsuccessful candidate. Here is his response:

“Over the years, I have received a small number of ‘thank you’ letters from unsuccessful candidates.

“Each time, I have been very impressed. All things being equal in terms of ability to do the job, I would have gone back to these people when another position became vacant.

“Often, a successful candidate may have a change of heart and decide to stay with their existing employer after receiving a job offer. The successful candidate could have been using us to negotiate a better salary with their existing employer. Or they might have got anxious once it came to signing the contract. Or they might have been just ‘testing the market’.

“If we had some ‘runner-up’ people of broadly equal abilities / scores, invariably we would give the nod to the person who went out of their way with a personalised note…not a photocopy or a generic thank you, but a decent few lines with a request to keep them in mind for future roles.

“If the roles involved a two or three stage process and they started writing notes after each stage / meeting, it would annoy us and be seen as being disingenuous, so I certainly wouldn’t encourage that.

“Finally, we have often found that a short note from a previously unsuccessful candidate 3-6 months after interview with a brief update on where they are at and what they have done since (e.g. started a night course in something relevant based on decline feedback, finished college etc.) is helpful, especially if we are manpower planning and debating contract recruitment or some such.”

To me, the message from the above is crystal clear: you never know where your ‘thank you’ letter might strike a blow. And, even if doesn’t come to anything, it surely can’t annoy.

Actually, on that issue, I recently surveyed 12 employers and asked them if a ‘thank you’ letter would annoy them. Only one said it would. Most veered between being impressed and indifferent.

Something worth thinking about perhaps. We’re not saying it’s a six-numbers-in-the-Lotto sure-fire winner, but it might be that last little thing that brings you over the line.

Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can also obtain their free eBook providing Job Searching Tips by emailing getthatjob@slinuacarers.com with Job Searching eBook in the subject line. More: www.slinuacareers.com

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