A heartfelt thank you on paper shows how much you care.

kers Need To Carefully Handwrite Thank You Letters

The article is brought to you by Zazzle. Every day there's a different discount code on thank you cards and everything else

The Jewish holiday of Purim has a fun commandment: the mishloach manot obligation to send a meal to someone else to help them enjoy the holiday too.

While you're only required to send one meal to one other person, you'll usually send to more. For example, this year we sent out wrapped plates of food and drink to 5 friends and neighbors.

In a class at my synagogue, the rabbi told how his family take it much further: they draw up a list of people to thank for something over the past year and then send them all care packages on Purim, turning it into a general People Appreciation Day.

Where they really take it to the next level is that they include a handwritten thank you letter with each package. The rabbi remembered that one person was so touched by this, the thank you note they received was still sitting out on a table at their home months after the holiday.

Handwritten thank you notes go a long way.

In your most recent job search, did you send any thank you letters?

(If you voted No, why didn't you send thank you letters? Tell us in the comments)

In a followup book based on his famous Last (college) Lecture before dying from pancreatic cancer, Professor Randy Pausch explained that:

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things human beings can do for each other. And despite my love of efficiency, I think that thank-you notes are best done the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper.

Job interviewers and admissions officers see lots of applicants. They read tons of resumes from “A” students with many accomplishments. But they do not see many handwritten thank-you notes. If you are a B+ student, your handwritten thank-you note will raise you at least a half-grade in the eyes of a future boss or admissions officer. You will become an “A” to them. And because handwritten notes have gotten so rare, they will remember you.

This student took that advice seriously:

A recruiter's take on thank you letters

It's a job search cliché that you should send thank you cards or notes, if even just a short email after job interviews.

But as a job seeker, it's so easy to feel that it's all a waste of time and effort.

Why thank someone who's just going to reject you? Besides, they're going to see many other candidates either way, right?

Is a small note really going to make a difference?

recruiter tweet handwritten thank you letter

Gayle Laakmann McDowell, VP HR at Quora from 2012 – 2016, in response to “How often do job candidates send a thank you/follow-up email after an interview?” said:

In about 150ish software engineering interviews I conducted at Google, I think I got one thank you note. It’s not an expectation in the process. We don’t even give out our email address, so it’d be pretty hard for someone to do it.

That said, if you do get an interviewer’s email address, go ahead and write them a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, but you might as well.

Do send a thank you note to the recruiter. They’ve got a hard job dealing with the periodic nasty candidate. You might as well establish yourself as one of the nice ones. Also, being polite is a good thing anyway.

Another example: Ginger McMurray responded to “What line did you use during a job interview that got the job for you?”

It wasn’t a line, but an action.

On my first job out of college I was up against a fellow classmate. A friend of ours had graduated the semester before and her company had one slot to fill. He was very smart and our grades were on par. We both even had the same experience working in the exact same computer labs as on-campus jobs.

It was basically a coin toss.

I got the position. But not from luck. From timing and forethought.

The interview took all day and I spoke to a manager, several developers, and the lead developer. Immediately after the interview I started writing my thank you cards.

I wrote one for each person who had interviewed me. I made sure m thanks were specific and referred back to our talks. I’ve forgotten most of the cards, but there are a couple that stick in my head.

I’d asked about management styles when speaking to the software manager and he’d been frank about the company’s culture. Because it was a private contracting company working solely in the military sector, it wasn’t laid back or casual. It also wasn’t a sweat shop. In his card I thanked him for his candor.

The technical lead gave me a tough written exam to test my C knowledge. There were several questions I had no clue about. At least one I didn’t even understand. I was up front about that on my test. Afterwards I googled around and found the answers. I gave one of the ones for the harder questions and thanked him for teaching me new things.

After I got the job I found out it was because my cards had arrived the morning before everyone met to compare candidates.

Be attentive in interviews. Be prompt with replies. Let them know you not only listened but cared what they had to say. It may cost you a few stamps to do it. It may cost you a job if you don’t.

The article is brought to you by Zazzle. Every day there's a different discount code on thank you cards and everything else

More on thank you letters

Bonus: Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Lokwang Moses

    I thought if the interviewers have chosen the candidate based on the being impressed, may not change thier minds a gain to consider you if you failed the interviews.

    1. Jacob Share

      You’re right- if you’re unqualified or made a poor impression in an interview, a thank you card is unlikely to suddenly convince a recruiter to hire you. But if it’s a close race between you and other candidates, this could put you ahead.

  2. Tim Woods

    While yes I believe that thank you notes are important, handwriting them can actually backfire especially if you have sloppy penmanship.

    I personally was ready to hire a candidate for a very important role – he was smart, knew our space really well, etc. but then he sent me some chicken scratch on a piece of paper which I presume was a thank you note. My colleagues saw it and said that if this is how he chose to express himself, that we couldn’t afford to have someone like that on our team.

    Sadly, they are right so we passed on that person. The funny thing is that I continued to check out the person from time to time on LInkedIn. While I realize that LI is not a true indicator of one’s background, he never seemed to change it which makes me think that he never was hired by anyone else either.

    Long story short — don’t handwrite anything if you have really sloppy penmanship. It will backfire and it will make you a weaker candidate overall if not done right.

    1. Jacob Share

      Too true, Tim, coming from someone who can barely understand his own handwriting. The keyboard is now my pen of choice 😀

  3. Brian

    Agree that any sloppy showing can negate other AAA performances.
    Assume that altruism isn’t the objective here; acting out of the box is.
    On the pecking order an impressive penmanship on heavy linen paper beats any chicken scratch. Those who scratch can go for a bought card.
    Remember, however you jump the line, someone now behind you was once ahead.

    1. Jacob Share

      Yes, it’s about out of the box thinking, Brian. And I like your last point.

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