The New Rules of Post-Interview Follow-Up
A Thank-You Note is a Wicked Smart Marketing Tool.
Use it that way.
Whether you’re actively job hunting or “just listening” when recruiters reach out, you know probably know what it takes to be a serious candidate. You need a clear grasp of your own personal “brand:” your career goals, core values, current abilities and professional track record. You need a resume that powerfully, compellingly reflects those things. And you need to ace every interview, not just with the words you choose but with the levels of engagement and enthusiasm you’re able to convey.
That’s a lot of work. And by the time you’ve gone that far, you may be tempted to save yourself some time and brain-strain with your post-interview thank you notes. It’s just a formality anyway, right? If you’re really smart, you can even write the thing in advance and send the same note to every interviewer, “customizing” each one by changing the names at the top.
Before you send that note, ask yourself this: if the hiring manager saw that letter without your signature on it, would they know it was from you?
The Rules Have Changed
Not that long ago, thank you notes were little more than an item on a checklist. Just follow the 4 P’s (Prompt, Polite, Professional, with Perfect grammar) and you’re good. But a well-written Thank You has so much marketing potential. Keep in mind, throughout the interviewing process, you’re competing with other candidates for the brain shelf space and memory of the interviewer. Today’s smart job hunters are crafting letters that create a vivid, positive memory of them. And their letters are leaving your letter in the dust.
How can you unleash the marketing power of a great Thank You?
Follow these 3 Pieces of Advice:
1. Use a 1-2 Punch
Email? Snail Mail? We’re living in a time where both are considered acceptable. So take advantage of both. The trick here is to be sure you’re giving each method a different task, starting with email. Contrary to popular belief, I do not advocate sending anything within minutes of your interview. It looks rushed, poorly thought-out, even a little desperate. But do try to send it at the beginning of business, the following day. You want your name to resurface in the very busy interviewer’s mind just about the time they might be starting to forget – or confuse you with someone else. That same day, drop your more formal, detailed letter in the mailbox.
2. Write Your Email Like A Digital Marketing Wizard
Create a subject line that is short and clearly identifies itself as relevant to the job and your interview. The whole email should be short, succinct and, of course, polite and professional. Keep the salutation fairly formal. “Dear Janice,” “Hello Janice” or “Good morning, Janice!” are all fine. “Hey there!” is not.
Reference a Unique Moment from the Interview
Your task here is to jog the interviewer’s memory, locking in a positive image of you by reminding them of an interpersonal connection you established. Was there a brief but detailed conversation about being fans of the same hockey team? Did the two of you end up talking about how the interviewer is training for a mountain bike race? Whatever those quick, positive, note-worthy moments were, pick one and work it into your short email. “… I hope all goes well with the new bike this weekend. The Chequamegon 40 is an impressive undertaking.”
Restate Your Interest
Make it clear that, because of what you heard during the interview, you are more interested than before. It’s important, even in this short touch-base note, that you show you were listening, engaged and intrigued. “I enjoyed hearing about your exciting new re-branding initiative and am looking forward to learning more…”
Be Upbeat, Appreciative and Brief
You’re sending a slightly more detailed letter after this email so keep this one quick and easy to read. Whenever you use the phrase, thank you, be sure you’re thanking them for something specific – not “thank you for your time” or “for the opportunity.”
3. Then, Send a Letter that Promotes Your Qualifications
This note can be slightly longer – but make it short enough to keep the reader reading. Follow all of the rules for your email, above, except instead of focusing on the brief personal anecdote, put your focus on your one or two greatest strengths that were discussed during the interview. If, after the meeting, you realize you should have mentioned a particular qualification, you can add it here. “I’m very excited about your re-branding initiative. My experience with re-branding three product lines for ABD Companies has given me the skills and insights to help me lead a very successful project for XYZ.”
Of course, perfectly written Thank You notes can’t win you the job if you don’t have the qualifications. But poorly written Thank You’s diminish your chances. Next time, write a follow-up that boosts your personal brand and keeps you top of mind.