A classic thank you note (image: shemckinley)
by: Grayson Leverenz
Young women born in the southern United States are raised writing thank you notes. The custom begins before we’re even born actually with the notes of appreciation sent for gifts delivered to our baby showers. So for me, writing thank you notes comes naturally, but for many others, it seems a strange, awkward tradition. Here are some tips to help alleviate the awkwardness and craft a memorable thank you note.
Decide if you want to go email or traditional mail. Both modes have their merits, and neither has been proven significantly more effective. An email will clearly get to the recipient faster; if time is of the essence, send an email. Use a clear subject line like, “Thank you,” or “Thank you for your time,” and utilize the rest of the points below for the body of the letter. If you are not pressed for time, a hand written thank you note sent by traditional mail can help set you apart from your peers.
I recently worked with a student using yoga as a central theme in her application to Wharton. After her interview, she had some time before her application was up for review, and we decided she should send the interviewer a thank you note on her yoga themed stationery. The hand written note delivered a consistent message and helped her stand out from the crowd. I’m sure the interviewer was not receiving a lot of hand written notes on yoga stationery!
Keep it simple. Unlike cover letters, thank you notes are typically “short and sweet,” as we say in the US. You do not need to reiterate details from your resume, or introduce new points that may be off track from your positioning. Following the outline below will create a nice flow and leave a professional, polished impression.
1. Begin with the thank you. There is no secret formula here; Americans like it when people get straight to the point. Avoid using phrases like, “I just wanted to thank you…” because it makes the letter seem more about you than the Interviewer. Leave off the “I just wanted,” and begin with the thank you itself.
2. Tell them why you enjoyed meeting them. This bit will probably come from the questions you asked at the end of the interview. Hopefully, you connected with the Recruiter on a point that interests you and was unique to your conversation. Highlight that here.
3. Weave in your winning attributes. I don’t recommend highlighting accomplishments in a thank you note; you did that already in your cover letter, resume and interview. Think of a thank you note instead as a perfect opportunity to weave in the positioning you developed from your attributes and skills in the “Setting Yourself Up for Success” post.
4. Remind them that you really want the job (or slot in the MBA class). Like we talked about in the “Closing the Interview” post, telling a Recruiter you want the job or slot in the MBA class can only work in your favor. Go ahead, remind them again!
Here’s an example of it all put together.
Subject: Thank you for your time
Thank you so much for taking the time to conduct interviews at Best School Ever, and share your experiences with Best Company Ever. I loved learning more about your role, especially your work with the Sustainability Committee. It is both fascinating and inspiring that you work on a team helping to implement a hybrid sales fleet, research fair trade ingredient sourcing, and increase profitability!
It is my sincere wish that I spend my summer internship working with an enthusiastic group of people, creating innovative products that will make a difference in this world. I would be honored if that was with Best Company Ever.
MBA Candidate 2010, Best School Ever