Thursday, March 23, 2017
Mind Your Manners: Don't Forget to Say Thank You
It Starts at Home: As the mother of a recent college graduate I was advising him how to go about getting his first career job. I was telling him to target his ideal companies and contact them directly. Then after submitting a resume, politely following up within a week to show his continued interest in the position. If he was given an interview, I told him to make sure he sent a thank you within 24 hours of the interview. Seemed simple to me, and something I try to do after any meeting. My son wasn't sure how to go about writing a thank you. I am suddenly realizing that people don't naturally know to send a thank you after a meeting.
This was called to my attention recently when I set up an informational interview between a great family friend and my 32 year-old nephew. My nephew is a math whiz, a college math instructor, very personable and well traveled. He's looking to make a career change, and my friend is involved in many businesses that could use a sharp mathematician. Being the gracious host my friend is, he invited my nephew to lunch to discuss career options, and picked up the tab. This was of course a very kind gesture, and the meeting was very informative to my nephew. Reports back were very positive and I was glad I could connect them.
To my surprise, a week later my friend followed up with the promising math mind, to give him additional resources for his career search. I all of a sudden wondered if my nephew had thanked him for his time and help. One week after that lunch and he hadn't. I quickly gave him my recommendation to always follow up timely with someone in this type of situation, and that in no way is it being obtrusive. I recommended in any thank you to say you appreciated his insight, his time and his help. If there were any items that were brought up in the meeting that required following up on, bring them up in the note. This isn't pestering, just a gentle nudge and acknowledgement that you were paying attention during the meeting. My nephew was surprised by this advice, but said he would put it to use from now on.
Set Yourself Apart: As a recruiter we are interviewing candidates for hard skills, and often, more importantly, for the soft skills that are so important for a cultural fit with an employer. I do wait to see if someone that I interviewed sends a thank you, and sends it timely. A little timer starts going off in the back of my mind after an interview to see if I'll get that follow up. A great candidate does it quickly and often with a nice tidbit of information for me. A good candidate is punctual and thankful in the message. And then there are those that never follow up. I don't remember them. (Ok, just kidding, but it is something to think about)
Are Thank You Notes Old Fashioned?: Several of my clients have been asking about thank you notes. They are not getting them. They too are looking for a follow up message after interviews, and sometimes it is the deciding factor when a few different candidates are under consideration.
As a fellow professional, I know many of us are working at our peak and time is precious. Don't forgot that the interviewers time is precious as well. Thank them. Please!
PS: I used to send letters, in the mail, to thank people. I still do, but email is my preferred mode of communication in most thank you notes. In a highly confidential situation, if you send a letter directly to the interviewer afterward, that letter may be seen by their assistant or raise questions about who sent it. If you are interviewing for a very sensitive position, err on the side of caution and send an email directly to the interviewer.
PPS: Ask your interviewer for his or her business card or for the permission of his or her information to be shared, say, with that crackerjack recruiter who put you up for the interview--me!